Why Are My Cows Eating Stones? (PICA)

Pica is a condition where cows & cattle eat or lick items that are of no nutritional value. The most common complaint within our catchment area is the licking of stones in ditches and along roadways, licking clay, stakes, gates & handles & even urine.

In general the cause of PICA is the lack of Phosphorus and/or Sodium in the animal’s diet and/or grazing low fibre pastures for prolonged periods.

  • Fibres: Fresh spring/early summer grass may contain low levels of fibre compared to older stalky grass. Sufficient fibre is essential for rumen health and function and when the total fibre in the diet is low, cows are at risk of acidosis.
  • Low Sodium (Na) high potassium levels in fertiliser/slurry spread on a field can decrease the availability of sodium in the grass, hence the deficiency of sodium in the cow’s diet. This deficiency can lead to the cows seeking sodium from elsewhere which leads to pica.
  • Low phosphorus (P) over 62% of Irish agricultural soils are low in phosphorus. On such soils, most of a cow’s phosphorus requirement will need to come from concentrate feed or alternative supplementation. Although clinical signs are slow to develop, untreated & long term P deficiency can lead to problems such as decreased milk yield, weights, conception, and general herd health.

    THE CURE for the above can be administered by feeding extra Phosphorus to the cow, this can be in the form of Liffey Mills High Phos Breeder Cube which contains high levels of Phosphorus to compliment the existing top spec protected mineral and yeast combo found in our Breeder range.

Contact your local Liffey Mills rep for any further information.

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