New app helps prevent cattle bloat


By Eve Hall
District Veterinarian

M: 0439 078 989 | E:

As we enter the high-risk early spring period for bloat in cattle,Hand holding phone with 'Bloat Alert' app on the screen, cattle in the background producers are reminded to be wary and consider preventative strategies when it comes to grazing cattle on high-risk pastures.

Pasture bloat is the rapid and dangerous accumulation of stable foam or froth in the rumen that occurs as a result of grazing high-risk pastures such as those that are lucerne- or clover-dominant. With the animal unable to expel this froth from its rumen, pressure builds rapidly, making breathing difficult and causing death due to cardiorespiratory failure.

Often, due to the rapid nature of bloat, affected stock will die suddenly. An autopsy examination by your vet can be used to help confirm the condition, which can sometimes present very similarly to pulpy kidney. Note: young growing stock on lush pastures or concentrate diets should be given pulpy kidney booster vaccinations as often as every six weeks.

Preventing bloat can be a real challenge, and we continue to see significant losses due to bloat across good seasons. Bloat capsules, one of the more effective preventative options, have not been available in Australia since 2013. Careful grazing management, the use of hay and roughage and various anti-bloat preparations such as licks are the mainstays of current bloat prevention. Unfortunately, these strategies all have their limitations, and losses can and do still occur. You can contact your local vet or district vet to discuss the pros and cons of the various bloat prevention strategies on your farm.

Awareness is key - new ‘Bloat Alert’ iPhone app

A new tool to help beef producers to manage bloat has been developed as part of Charles Sturt University's research into bloat in southern beef production systems. The ‘Bloat Alert’ app is free for iPhone users and has been developed as an early warning system for cases in the area. Producers can use the app to report bloat cases and be alerted in real time of other local cases.

Upcoming bloat capsule trials

While bloat capsules have not been on the market since 2013, Elanco Animal Health (manufacturer of the previously available Rumensin Bloat Capsule) is currently looking to carry out field trials on revised bloat capsules this spring. It is anticipated that these trials will help see a return of bloat capsules to the Australian market in the near future.  If you are a producer who intends to graze cattle destined for slaughter on high-risk pastures and may be interested in participating in a bloat capsule trial, you can contact Elanco to further discuss this opportunity.

Craig Stevenson
Technical Services: Ruminants
Elanco Australasia Pty Ltd
0448 169 642

For more information on bloat in cattle, feel free to contact your nearest Murray Local Land Services district veterinarian - 1300 795 299.

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