HC Deb 21 June 1955 vol 542 cc1132-3
9. Captain Duncan

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what research is being carried out by his Department on grass staggers in cattle in Scotland; how many deaths of cattle have taken place this spring from this disease; and whether he is now able to give official advice to farmers as to how to prevent it.

Mr. N. Macpherson

I am advised that this disease is associated with a deficiency of magnesium in the blood stream. Research into the problem is continuing at the Moredun Institute, Edinburgh, and at some centres in England. Losses can be heavy but, as the disease is not notifiable, the exact number of deaths is not known. Farmers are recommended to consult their veterinary surgeons or the advisory officers of the agricultural colleges with a view to adopting any possible means of increasing the intake of magnesium by cattle.

Captain Duncan

Is my hon. Friend not aware that we know the cure for this disease if we can get at the cow before it dies, because it dies very quickly when it gets the disease? What we want to know is how to prevent the disease. Is my hon. Friend not in a position to give advice to farmers officially as to how to prevent the disease occuring at all?

Mr. Macpherson

If my hon. Friend would advise farmers to get in touch with their veterinary surgeons or the advisory officers, they would get information on this subject. I would draw my hon. Friend's attention to an article that appeared in the issue of the magazine "Scottish Agriculture" of autumn, 1954, on hypomagnesemia and tetany of cattle and sheep.