You've reached the Virginia Cooperative Extension Newsletter Archive. These files cover more than ten years of newsletters posted on our old website (through April/May 2009), and are provided for historical purposes only. As such, they may contain out-of-date references and broken links.

To see our latest newsletters and current information, visit our website at

Newsletter Archive index:

Virginia Cooperative Extension -
 Knowledge for the CommonWealth

Beef Management Tips

Livestock Update, October 2003

John B. Hall, Extension Animal Scientist, Beef, Virginia Tech

October Beef Management Calendar

Spring Calving Herds

Fall Calving Herds

Fall-Calving Herds at Risk for Grass Tetany
Plentiful rainfall and cool growing conditions made excellent pasture this fall. However, the same conditions that create this lush pasture also reduce magnesium levels in pastures. In addition, well fertilized pasture can exacerbate the problem. Producers with fall-calving herds should feed a high magnesium mineral free choice this fall. Cows in early lactation are most susceptible to grass tetany.

High magnesium mineral supplements should contain 12 to 14% magnesium. The most common form of magnesium is magnesium oxide (MgO). While MgO is an acceptable form of magnesium for supplementation, it is bitter and causes cattle to decrease mineral intake. Producers should monitor mineral intake by cattle to ensure they are eating the recommended level indicated on the feed tag.

Acorn Poisoning Could Cause Problems This Fall
Cattle will often head for woods and wooded lots around the farm in search of grazing or browse. However, that could be dangerous. Green acorns are plentiful this year. Hungry cattle love acorns that can quickly poison them. Green and ripe acorns contain gallotannins, which cause kidney damage and death. There does not seem to be as great a problem after a few hard freezes. The reduced palatability of acorns after weathering may be part of the answer.

To prevent acorn poisoning, cattle should be allowed access to abundant pasture and fenced out of areas with large amounts of oak trees until this winter. There are few other options as only a few pounds of acorns can cause enough damage to kill cattle. Outward signs of acorn poisoning are few but include weight loss and diarrhea, but often these are not noticed until other cattle in the herd have died.

Visit Virginia Cooperative Extension