MARYVALE small beef and sheep producers Adam and Rachael Coath have gone 15 years since encountering a case of livestock bloating.
But, like most producers, this trying drought period has become a nutritional headache for even the most experienced.
Fortunate to receive about 76 millimetres (three inches) of rain in recent weeks on their property, Glenside, a small green pick became available for their stock.
It came at a hefty cost for one Angus cross heifer though who presented with an inflated stomach while Ms Coath was laying out their usual hand feeding ration of the last 12 months.
“I thought yesterday, don’t say we have got them over what hopefully will be the worst with sourcing hay, and then we lose them to bloat,” she said.
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Having previously lost cattle to the nutritional problem, Ms Coath looked for an immediate relief and inserted a stomach tube.
“Within minutes and a lot of dry heaving, we have one comfortable deflated heifer that hopefully will live to see another day,” she said.
Ms Coath was wary of bloating in some cattle they recently put onto a barley crop but thought others, including the heifer, who were on poorer pastures would be the least of their worries.
According to Local Land Services advice, a lush pasture or flush of clover could be a bloat risk for up to three to four weeks and cattle should be fed hay as a source of fibre in the mean time.
When the plant is taller its proteins and carbohydrates become less soluble and contain more fibre. It then takes longer for an animal to digest, creating more saliva production and normal function to the rumen.
Treatment is often impossible as a swollen rumen puts pressure on the lungs, heart and blood vessels.
In the spring of 2015, a Coonamble producer recorded losses of up to $35,000 due to bloat deaths of 27 steers and five breeders.