'Staggers' (Hypomagnesaemia– Grass tetany) A Helpful Guide to Prevention and Treatment

What is 'staggers'?

A disease affecting cows caused by an imbalance in blood magnesium levels. If untreated the condition is fatal.

When is 'staggers' likely to occur?

  • Staggers often occurs in spring and autumn
  • During peak lactation (4-8 weeks after calving)

What are the clinical signs?

  1. Sudden death (disturbed soil around feet and heat from seizure)
  2. Seizures – Paddling limbs, sudden eye movements, rapid pounding heart
  3. High head, twitching muscles, lack of coordination, grinding teeth
  4. Startled expression, exaggerated blink reflex
  5. Cow separated from group

How to treat staggers?

If you suspect any of these clinical signs contact your VET IMMEDIATELY!

Factors increasing the risk of staggers

  • Low magnesium levels in soil and grass
  • Application of fertilisers (K&N)
  • Lush monoculture pastures with low dry matter
  • Changeable weather, storms and autumn frosts

Prevention is better than cure – what is your grass telling you?

  • Graze diverse multispecies swards during high risk periods
  • Graze sheltered fields if possible, during stormy weather
  • Feed cows on deferred grazing with higher dry matter levels
  • Offer straw in ring feeders to slow feed passage through rumen
  • Contact your nutritionist to advise on supplementing cattle
  • Supplement with high mag rolls or magnesium minerals
For more information, contact


Quality Meat Scotland, Rural Centre, West Mains, Ingliston, Newbridge, EH28 8NZ

T: 0131 510 7920 E: info@qmscotland.co.uk

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