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Cattle producers warned of pasture bloat

CloverWith many properties in the region already showing signs of a promising start to spring with a good show of clover, the North Coast Local Land Services District Veterinarian team is encouraging local producers to take steps to address the risk of pasture bloat this spring.

Pasture bloat is caused by the formation of a stable foam in the rumen often associated with grazing lush rapidly growing legumes such as clover and can also be seen on some rapidly growing young grasses. The foam formed prevents animals from belching gas and the rumen can quickly become distended.

Ian Poe, District Veterinarian said, “There are a number of options available to producers to help reduce the risk of pasture bloat, though it is important to remember that no one single method is 100% effective.

“The most important step is to ensure that cattle are not hungry when first introduced to high risk pastures.

“This can be achieved by feeding hay, silage or grazing alternative lower risk paddocks.

“Alternatively, limiting the grazing time or using strip grazing to restrict the amount of high risk pasture available can be used provided grazing is not limited to a point where productivity may be affected.” Ian said.

Anti-bloat products may be added to water troughs, though water intake by cattle is frequently low on high risk pastures, given the high water content of the pastures, and the treated troughs must be the only water source available to the stock.

Oil can also be sprayed directly onto pastures and may be an option where strip grazing is used. Respraying may be required after heavy rain.

Bloat blocks can be a convenient option, though intake of blocks can be quite variable, so only those animals that lick a sufficient quantity of the blocks on a regular basis will be protected.

Monensin, which is an antibiotic which modifies the bacteria and protozoa in the rumen, can also be used as an aid to prevent bloat. It can be fed in loose licks or grain mixes.

Whichever method, or combination of methods, is employed, monitoring stock after introduction is important. The onset of signs can be quite rapid after introduction and as well as the obvious distention of the abdomen on the left side include bellowing, lying down and getting up frequently and rapid breathing, often with the mouth open.

North Coast Local Land Services District Veterinarians are also recommending that producers ensure their stock are up to date with 5 in 1 or 7 in 1 vaccination, as pulpy kidney may also be seen in stock grazing early spring pastures.

For more information on bloat control contact the North Coast Local Land Services District Veterinarian team.

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Media contact:

Ian Poe, District Veterinarian, 0429 987 255

Photo captions:

Clover and lush rapidly growing legumes and grasses can cause problems with pasture bloat