Increase in Pica disorder evident on Irish Farms

Increase in Pica disorder evident on Irish Farms

Signs of ‘pica’ have been reported on many dairy farms recently 

With the breeding season upon us, Terra NutriTECH has noticed the sharp increase in Pica cases being reported among Irish Farmers. We thought it would be a practical time to inform you about some of the main signs to look out for and how best to treat the disorder.

Pica can be caused by phosphorous deficiency. It is important to note that pica often occurs in herds which are thriving & healthy. Low dietary fibre in the cow’s diet, due to the rapidly growing grass during the breeding season can also cause pica. 

Symptoms of Pica 

  • Eating & licking stones off roadways  
  • Licking clay from banks and ditches. 
  • Chewing water piping, cubicle mats, eating electric fence handles 
  • Lameness, sore limbs, sore joints, & the sound cracking bones in older cows (severe cases) 

Low Fibre in a cow diets will lead to: 

  • Loose dung  
  • Reduced ‘cudding’ and therefore saliva production which can result in ruminal acidosis due to the decreased buffering from saliva within the rumen) 
  • Reduce milk fats due to a change in the balance of fatty acids being produced by a more acidic rumen. 
  • feed intake drops and therefore milk production suffers 

How to prevent and control the problem of Pica on your Farm 

  • Give cows access to a source of long fibre such as straw, hay or stemmy silage in the paddock or near the collecting yard 
  • Feed Additional Phosphorous. 
  • Extra sodium (salt blocks) can aid in reducing the problem of pica. 

Studies have shown that phosphorus content in grazing pastures is far lower of what is required to maintain adequate levels in the dairy cow. 

It is recommended to take blood samples from the herd to diagnose if there is a phosphorous deficiency present. 

Phosphorous can be easily added through the drinking water and will rectify the deficiency in a relatively short time period. 

Terra NutriTECH has Phosphorous available in 20kg drums & 200kg barrels & can be dispensed manually or automatically through our liquid mineral system.  

Advanced customisation of minerals insures that your Herd get the exact amount of minerals and supplements they require to stay healthy. Our mineral production facilities are compliant with Department of Agriculture rules, we have an up to date HACCP system and we are licensed to produce for both the Irish and EU market.

“One less job to do and I have healthier
cows that hold condition after calving.”

Farmer response – IFAC Report

Talk with our Team

Please call Ronan on 087 7086714  to find out about using an automated mineral dosing system. There are many health benefits for your cattle. Continue planning for the year ahead.



  • Reduce symptoms of PICA
  • Stop animals from chewing dirt and stones preventing damage to their mouths­
  • Prevent animals from stocking on hedges increasing the risk of bloat


  • High levels of Phosphorous

Sizes & Dosing Rate

  • Available in 20kg and 200kg
  • Dosing ratio 15mls per cow per day