MALACHY McGrath, from Ann-acloy in County Down, runs a 120 strong suckler beef enterprise. The cows are split into spring and autumn calving groups with all calves brought through to finishing weights.
A priority for the business is to secure as much cow and calf performance from grazed grass.
“We were pretty badly affected by the drought earlier this year,” Malachy confirmed.
“However, the recent rain and continuing mild conditions mean that we have pretty decent grass covers at the present time.
“It should be possible to keep the cattle out for the next few weeks. My big concern at this time of the year, however, is predisposing the stock to grass tetany problems.”
To prevent this from happening Malachy traditionally puts Crystalyx High-Mags blocks out with the cows throughout at this time of the year.
He continued: “They are very palatable and I know they contain a proven source of magnesium.
“The risk of losing cows to magnesium deficiency is one that is just too big to take at this time of the year. We do not feed large amounts of concentrates to the cows. So it is for this reason that we will keep up with the practise of putting the High-Mag blocks out from now until the end of the grazing season.”
David Morgan, from Caltech-Crystalyx, was a recent visitor to the McGrath farm. He was accompanied by Gary Rice from local distributor Joseph Walls Ltd. The business has premises at Downpatrick Road, Clough.
“Too many breeding cows are lost unnecessarily in Northern Ireland at this time of the year as a result of grass staggers,” David explained.
“And the problem can be so easily avoided. It is recommended that the Crystalyx High Mag blocks are placed with both suckler and dairy cows at this time of the year
He added: “Autumn grass can look lush. However, it is traditionally low in a wide range of minerals, including magnesium. Cattle must include magnesium in their diet in order to reduce the risk of staggers.
“Magnesium salts are a way of providing a source of magnesium, but they are bitter and not readily taken by stock at grass.
“Crystalyx High-Mag, however, provides a highly palatable form of magnesium that is readily available with every lick that the cow takes.”
Research at Glasgow University School of Veterinary Medicine has confirmed that the high digestibility and availability of the magnesium in Crystalyx Cattle High-Mag ensures the risk of hypomagnesaemia is significantly reduced.
“But that’s only part of the story,” David Morgan stressed.
“The High-Mag blocks are not just stand alone sources of magnesium: they also constitute valuable feed supplements. The blocks act to boost grass intakes, thereby improving cow performance.”
Gary Rice confirmed that the Crystalyx High-Mag blocks are very popular with both suckler and dairy farmers throughout County Down.
“They provide farmers with confidence when it comes to knowing that their cows are getting the magnesium they require.
“What’s more, they represent a very small cost when it comes to ensuring that cows are protected from staggers, which can strike without warning and is usually fatal,” he said.