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Farm & Ranch

Watch Out for Scrapie

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By Barry Whitworth, DVM

Scrapie is a chronic, progressive disease of the central nervous system that affects sheep and goats. Scrapie is the oldest of the group of neurodegenerative diseases known as transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSE).

Some of the other TSE are Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy known as mad cow disease, Chronic Wasting Disease which is found in deer, and Creutzfeldt Jacob Disease which is found in humans. TSE are protein-misfolding diseases that lead to brain damage and are always fatal.

The cause of Scrapie is not completely understood, but evidence indicates that an infectious protein referred to as a prion is responsible for the disease.
These infectious prions cause damage to the normal prion proteins found in the brain. The mis-folding of the proteins lead to brain damage and the presentation of clinical signs of the disease. Prions are very resistant to destruction, so once in the environment, they are difficult to remove.

To read more, pick up a copy of the January 2024 issue of NTFR magazine. To subscribe by mail, call 940-872-5922.

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Farm & Ranch

Grass Tetany (Hypomagnesemia)

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By Barry Whitworth, DVM

With spring approaching, producers should be aware of a disease associated with rapidly growing forages. Hypomagnesemia is commonly referred to as grass tetany. The disease is a serious and often fatal metabolic disease that occurs in cattle and less commonly in sheep and goats. The disease is characterized by low blood and cerebral spinal fluid levels of magnesium.
Low level of magnesium in animals is associated with tetanic convulsions. The disease is often associated with grazing lush green pastures during cold rainy weather in early spring. Other names for hypomagnesemia are grass staggers, hypomagnesmic tetany, lactation tetany, or wheat pasture poisoning.

Magnesium is an important mineral because it activates many enzymes in chemical reactions in the body. Without this mineral, cells are unable to produce energy, transport genetic information, transport materials across cell membranes, and nerves cease to respond in a normal manner. Magnesium also plays a role in electrolyte balances in the body.

Maintaining magnesium levels requires adequate daily intake to meet the needs of the animal. Factors that increase magnesium requirements are fetal growth during pregnancy, milk production, soft tissue growth, and bone growth. Failure to absorb magnesium may lower blood levels as well.

To read more, pick up a copy of the February 2024 issue of NTFR magazine. To subscribe by mail, call 940-872-5922.

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Farm & Ranch

Ag Elsewhere: Montana

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By Lindsey Monk

Hope someone is whispering sweet nothings in your ear this Valentine’s Day!

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Farm & Ranch

Ag Elsewhere: Wyoming

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By Tressa Lawrence

May you find yourselves bedded down and cozy this February!

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