This often occurs with high-protein forages such as alfalfa or certain clovers, but can also be problem when lush cereal forages or brassicas are grazed. “Anything that upsets photosynthesis in the actively growing plant (such as frost) can cause bloat. However, pasture bloat continues to impede the widespread adoption of alfalfa grazing systems, although, numerous technologies are presently being tested for bloat prevention. A.  Alfalfa reacts two ways to a hard freeze. Management practices used to reduce the risk of bloat include feeding hay, particularly orchard grass, before turning cattle on pasture, maintaining grass dominance in the sward, or using strip grazing to restrict intake, with movement of animals to a new strip in the afternoon, not the early morning. Alfalfa hay Alfalfa hay combined with cereal grain is probably the most common mixture of dry feed causing bloat in western Canada. Some individual animals have a propensity to bloat, perhaps because of their physical characteristics. This will reduce the bloat problem in all animals that will eat. ), The National Academies Press: Agriculture, Does frost on alfalfa cause increased risk of bloat in cattle. Ruminants are unique in their ability to readily digest the cell wall components of forages and it is this ability that gives them a competitive advantage ove… Even when sheep have been eating just hay, they can bloat due to … Soluble protein levels may also be higher in the plant early in the day and this may be why many experienced producers recommend that cattle be turned into alfalfa pastures after the morning dew is off the alfalfa. Also, maintain access to dry hay or corn stalks while grazing alfalfa to help reduce bloat. Nitrate levels can increase, but rarely to hazardous levels. Bloat is caused by fermentation gases being trapped under a foamy mat in the rumen, and it is often associated with livestock grazing alfalfa, clover or wheat pastures. If rotational grazing is used, care should be taken to ensure that the initial paddock is not over grazed to the point that animals are hungry when they are introduced into a fresh paddock. Alfalfa (green or fed as hay) is good feed for calves or young cattle, lactating cows and pregnant cows in late gestation. Bloat can even be caused if cattle run out of pasture and are hungry and then gorge themselves when they are let into the next lush pasture. To protect your livestock from bloat, fill them with hay before turning them onto alfalfa. Other strategies of bloat prevention such as wilting of alfalfa also lower soluble protein levels in the alfalfa and reduce bloat risk. For additional information, please see "Bloat in Beef Cattle". Grazing alfalfa can be toxic to cattle, sheep and other ruminant animals, as live alfalfa plants with moisture on the leaves will cause bloat (a build-up of gas) in all ruminant animals. Continuous grazing can present more danger as after two to three weeks of grazing within a pasture alfalfa starts to regrow. Frothy bloat is most common and rarely leads to death. Cattle generally have three to four grazing bouts per day on alfalfa pastures. Feedlot bloat or dry bloat is caused by excessive consumption of grain, hay cubes or hay. Knowledge of the interactions between the animal, plant and environment factors that lead to bloat is the key to profitable grazing alfalfa with minimal death loss. Major bouts tend to occur shortly after sunrise and early in the evening. Although this type of hay for cattle is highly beneficial, it often causes bloat in animals hence should be used with caution. Pasture bloat is primarily a disease of cattle that graze pastures where legumes make up greater than 50% of the total forage. Conditions that may lead to frothy bloat include consumpiton of lush legumes such as clover or alfalfa, either in green feeds or as new hay; recent turnout to legume pastures, and wet grass pastures. If water source is controlled it works well. However, as many a dairy farmer can attest to, cattle can still bloat on alfalfa hay, and long term frozen alfalfa should be considered bloat reduced, not bloat safe. Bloat can be controlled even in vegetative alfalfa if it is swathed and allowed to wilt prior to consumption (Majak et al., 2001). Alfalfa has an initial rate of ruminal digestion that is five to ten times greater than that of most grasses. (Also note that rams-especially ram lambs-can be at risk when eating too much alfalfa; a diet too high in protein can cause “pizzle rot,” and too much calcium can produce kidney stones). Some parts of this site work best with JavaScript enabled. This publication provides information on the causes, control, and treatment of bloat in cattle and is intended for livestock producers, veterinarians, and agrologists. Depending on the diet, a large amount of foam or froth develops in the rumen and inhibits the release of gas, which causes the animal to bloat. Outbreaks of bloat are often associated with particular batches of hay. UNL web framework and quality assurance provided by the, Apply to the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, Give to the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Explore Beef (The People. Feed Rumensin. Ruminants are unique in their ability to readily digest the cell wall components of forages and it is this ability that gives them a competitive advantage over other meat producing animals. Thus, the notion that alfalfa is bloat-safe after a frost is a fallacy. Soluble leaf proteins, saponins, and hemicelluloses are believed to be the primary foaming agents and to for… Cases have been reported from grazing of red clover, but its risk of causing bloat is much lower than that of white clover. As hay growers and goat and cattle producers, we can say with certainty that alfalfa will indeed cause bloat in goats and cows and sheep. Although uncommon, bloat can still occur in cattle grazing alfalfa in the bloom stage especially if they are hungry when turned into the pasture. 2. Stress Causes Sheep Bloat, Too. This will create bigger swings in nutrition and a greater risk for cattle to bloat. Contributing causes of bloat include, an inherited tendency for bloat, certain proteins in forage, the ... only a few of the cattle in the lot. In the first case, the producer backgrounded a couple of hundred five-cwt steers to 900 lbs. Provide grass hay or grain for the first week or two of grazing alfalfa. In cattle, micro-organisms in their rumen, or paunch, produce gas as they digest forages. Known as an ionophore, it is commonly fed to cattle to improve feed efficiency and rate of gain. Bloat can occur after as little as 15 minutes to 1 hour after they are turned out to a bloat-producing pasture. The Animal Note that as alfalfa hay matures, protein levels tend to decline while its fibre content increases making it less palatable to cattle. using a series of old wooden self-feeders. Another tactic is to let the forage become more mature so it is not so lush, and graze it during the frost-free period. Bloat can occur on any lush forage that is low in fiber and highly digestible, but is most common on immature legume (clover and alfalfa) pastures. Forcing bloated animals to walk is also helpful. Only graze when fields are dry and firm. Legumes with the highest likelihood to cause bloat include white clover, alfalfa, annual medics and Persian clover. Feed bloat-preventing compounds. Although this type of hay for cattle is highly beneficial, it often causes bloat in animals hence should be used with caution. Contributing causes of bloat include, an inherited tendency for bloat, certain proteins in forage, the ... only a few of the cattle in the lot. Forcing bloated animals to walk is also helpful. However, as many a dairy farmer can attest to, cattle can still bloat on alfalfa hay, and long term frozen alfalfa should be considered bloat reduced, not bloat safe. It likely stems from the fact that alfalfa can cause bloat in cattle due to the layout of their intestinal tract. The Animal 3. The Animal Cattle address their fiber needs by eating a little hay. Changing to a legume hay suddenly can make an animal sick, or cause a ruminant animal to bloat. It is likely that the risk of bloat in frozen alfalfa decreases with time as proteins complex with carbohydrate in a manner similar to that achieved with wilting or drying. Bloat can occur on any lush forage that is low in fiber and highly digestible, but is most common on immature legume (clover and alfalfa) pastures. Pasture (frothy) bloat can occur in animals grazing wheat pasture or lush legumes (alfalfa, ladino, white clover) or being fed green-chopped legumes. The Land. Perhaps by better understanding bloat, how to prevent it and treat it (should the need arise), livestock producers can overcome a fear of bloat. Feeding schedules Winter wheat can also cause bloat when it is lush in the spring. Be careful during early fall frosts; cell walls are broken by freezing and make alfalfa highly digestible. Feedlot (dry) bloat usually refers to bloat in cattle fed high-grain rations that may or may not contain legume forage. There are, however, some risks producers need to be aware of and precautions that need to be followed when grazing alfalfa and alfalfa/grass hay stands, Sedivec said. Although one might think that the same effect would be achieved after a good fall frost, freezing can rupture plant cell walls and increase the release of soluble protein in the plant. Animals with frothy bloat have a stable gas-liquid mix at the top of the rumen that traps feed and prevents gas release. Don't clip a grass-legume pasture and then immediately turn cattle out onto it. The key is in storing the hay until the enzyme action is done with the curing process. But they don’t need straight alfalfa because they don’t need that much protein, and rich alfalfa with no grass or other forage to dilute it can cause digestive problems, diarrhea and bloat. Bloat always must be a concern, but alfalfa that has been frosted and started to dry down has fewer tendencies to cause bloat than summer alfalfa. Changing to a legume hay suddenly can make an animal sick, or cause a ruminant animal to bloat. 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