Cookie use on MRCVSonline
We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you continue without changing your settings, we will assume that you are happy to receive all cookies.
If you would like to forward this story on to a friend, simply fill in the form below and click send.

Your friend's email:
Your email:
Your name:
Send Cancel

Increase magnesium before calving, cattle farmers advised
Farmers are being advised to increase magnesium in suckler cow pre-calving minerals.
Study suggests cows absorb less magnesium than previously thought

SAC Consulting, part of Scotland’s Rural College, is advising farmers to increase the level of magnesium in minerals given to suckler cows before calving.

The advice comes after a study by the National Research Council (NRC) in the United States found that magnesium from rock sources has about half the absorption levels than previously thought.

Karen Stewart from SAC Consulting said: “The current guideline is 10 per cent magnesium in a pre-calving mineral for normal silage rations and I think the revised absorption coefficients would justify an increase to 15 per cent magnesium to take account of the reduced absorption.”

Low levels of magnesium can lead to staggers - a condition that causes cows to lose their balance. It is also critical for cows to mobilise their calcium reserves and to minimise the risk of slow calving.

The NRC and Bill Weiss, a professor of dairy cattle nutrition at Ohio State University, have given some indications of changes they are making to availability for magnesium. They suggest that cows absorb less magnesium than previously thought.

In the UK, magnesium oxide is the most common form used in mineral supplements. SAC Consulting says that given the recent information, and depending on diet, it would be advisable to increase magnesium levels in suckler cow pre-calving minerals.

Ms Stewart added: “Magnesium plays a vital role in helping cows mobilise their own reserves of calcium to help with muscle contractions. Low magnesium is associated with slow calvings. If staggers is considered a particular risk or the silage has particularly high potassium levels as a result of slurry applications, further supplementation may be considered.

She continued “This spring the risk of slow calvings will be higher as a result of cows being high body condition score.Getting a full silage analysis including minerals, and planning pre-calving rations with nutritional advice, will be particularly important ahead of spring calving 2020.”

Become a member or log in to add this story to your CPD history

BEVA gives vets access to free membership for three months

News Story 1
 BEVA has announced that it is cutting membership renewal charges for the next three months in order to support all veterinary professionals during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Memberships for all existing BEVA members will be extended until 30 June 2020. Veterinary professionals who are not members of BEVA will also be able to sign up for a free membership until 30 June 2020.

BEVA president Tim Mair said: "In this extraordinary time of global crisis our profession, as with many industries, is under immense pressure. By offering free membership we are giving equine vets easy access to a wealth of supportive resources and online CPD."

To sign up please visit the BEVA website.

Image (c) BEVA. 

Click here for more...
News Shorts
LOVE Gorgie Farm seeking veterinary volunteers

LOVE Gorgie Farm in Edinburgh is looking for people with veterinary and animal care experience, who would be interested in volunteering to help care for its animals during these difficult times.

The community-owned charity farm opened to the public only last month, but decided to close temporarily amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Its three-person team is working to care for the animals behind the scenes and the farm is now operating as a food bank for the public, delivering free breakfasts to local school children.

In an effort to build a contingency plan to secure the welfare of its animals, LOVE Gorgie Farm is looking for volunteers who would be able to step in if any team members fell sick or needed to self-isolate.

Those interested in volunteering are asked to contact