Spring Brings Bloat Warning

With many properties in the region already showing signs of a promising start to spring and with plenty of clover about North Coast Local Land Services, district vets are 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.

North Coast Local Land Services District Vet Ian Poe said several options are available to producers to help reduce the risk of pasture bloat. However, it is important to remember that no 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”. Ian said.

Alternatively, limiting the grazing time or using strip grazing to restrict the high-risk pasture available can be used. However, it is important that grazing is not limited to a point where productivity may be affected.

“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.” Said Ian.

Bloat Oil can also be sprayed directly onto pastures and may be an option where strip grazing is used. However, 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 block regularly will be protected.

Monensin, which modifies the microbes in the rumen, can also be used to prevent bloat. It can be fed in loose licks or grain mixes.

Whichever method, or combination of methods, is used, monitoring stock after the introduction is essential. This is because the onset of signs can be rapid after introduction. Cattle with bloat may display the following signs:

  • distention of the abdomen on the left side
  • appear distressed – bellowing
  • lying down and getting up frequently
  • rapid breathing, often with the mouth open

North Coast Local Land Service district vets also recommend 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 your Local Land Services district veterinarian.


Media contact: Emily Findlay, North Coast Local Land Services M:0419 221 136

Photo Caption: Lush rapidly growing legumes such as clover can cause pasture bloat. Supplied.

Clover can cause pasture bloat

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