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Cow Magnets: The Unsung Heroes Protecting Your Herd from Hardware Disease


Cow Magnets

The idea of feeding really strong magnets to livestock might sound unusual, but it's a well-established and effective practice in the agricultural industry. Since the 19th century, farmers have been using these veterinarian-approved devices to safeguard their cattle.


But what exactly are cow magnets, and why are they so essential?


A cow magnet, also known as a rumen, veterinary, or cattle magnet, is a specially designed magnetic device. It typically consists of a cylindrical or elongated magnet encased in a smooth, rounded plastic or stainless steel shell. This patented design ensures safe passage into the cow's stomach and prevents any internal damage. 

The Purpose of Cow Magnets: Combatting Hardware Disease

Cow magnets are primarily used to prevent hardware disease, a potentially fatal condition caused by the ingestion of sharp metal objects. Cows are indiscriminate eaters and often consume metal debris along with their feed. This debris can include nails, wire pieces, screws, and other sharp objects found in their environment.


If left unchecked, these metal fragments can puncture the cow's stomach lining and other vital organs, leading to pain, infection, and even death. Cow magnets attract and trap these metal pieces in the reticulum, the second stomach compartment, preventing them from migrating further into the digestive tract and causing harm. 

Hardware Disease: A Serious Threat to Cattle Health 

Hardware disease, also known as traumatic reticuloperitonitis, was once a widespread problem in the cattle industry. In the 1950s, it affected up to 80% of dairy cows. Thanks to the widespread use of cow magnets, this number has dramatically decreased to around 2-12% today.


The symptoms of hardware disease can be subtle at first, including reduced appetite, decreased milk production, and general discomfort. If left untreated, the condition can quickly worsen, leading to severe pain, fever, infection, and even death. Cow magnets offer a simple and effective preventative measure against this devastating disease. 

How Are Cow Magnets Administered?

A veterinarian typically administers cow magnets to young calves, usually between 6 and 18 months of age. The magnet is gently inserted into the cow's mouth using a special tool called a bolus gun. The magnet then travels down the esophagus and into the reticulum, where it remains for the rest of the cow's life.


Once in place, the cow magnet attracts any metal fragments the cow ingests, forming a clump of metal that is safely contained within the reticulum. This clump, known as a "magnet ball," is periodically checked by the veterinarian to ensure its effectiveness. 

Types of Cow Magnets

There are several types of cow magnets available, each with its own advantages: 

1. Alnico Cow Magnets

Alnico Cow Magnets

The alnico magnet is the oldest in use today. It’s shaped like a rod and is often still the go-to option for veteran farmers; however, it’s also considered the least effective compared to other magnets because of advancements made in the field. 

2. Sintered Ferrite Magnets

Sintered ferrite magnets utilize a special magnetic circuit design to enhance the power and surface area of the magnet. Most farmers use these on their cows due to their strong performance and affordability. 

3. Sintered NdFeB (Neodymium) Magnets

Sintered NdFeB magnets are among the strongest magnets available to farmers. They are the same size as the alnico magnet but have a suction rating far surpassing alnico and ferrite magnets. 

4. Magnets With Plastic Frameworks

Technically, this isn’t a distinct magnet type, but it’s a popular add-on to improve the comfort of cow magnets. Over a cow’s average lifespan, they can pick up a massive amount of metal in their stomachs. Including a plastic framework over the magnet prevents damage to the cow’s stomach in these scenarios. 

Protect Your Herd with Cow Magnets

Cow magnets are an indispensable tool for maintaining the health and well-being of your cattle. By preventing hardware disease, these unassuming devices play a crucial role in safeguarding your livestock investment.


Cow Magnet

At Master Magnetics, we offer a range of high-quality cow magnets to suit your agriculture operation’s needs. Our magnets are designed for maximum effectiveness and durability, ensuring the long-term protection of your herd. Start shopping today!

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