Has the bloat risk period increased?

Bloat cases rise as the risk period lengthens

Beef
Bloat is the accumulation of excess gas in the rumen that causes distention of the rumen (left side of cattle). When animals cannot eliminate the gas, pressure builds up which can cause asphyxiation and death.

Bloat is the accumulation of excess gas in the rumen that causes distention of the rumen (left side of cattle). When animals cannot eliminate the gas, pressure builds up which can cause asphyxiation and death.

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Bloat cases in cattle are on the rise following an early autumn break and increased clover growth.

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THE number of bloat cases seen in cattle across many regions of the state has been on the rise lately, but it doesn't stop there with the bloat risk period also lengthening over the past five to six years, according to Professor Bruce Allworth of Charles Sturt University.

Presenting a managing bloat in cattle webinar on Tuesday, Prof Allworth said it used to be a four to six week window from late July to early August, now it is a four to five month window from the beginning of May to the beginning of October.

Despite bloat having an annual cost estimate of $76.8 million and being the second most important disease in southern beef herds according to the GHD 2015 report, there has been no research associated with bloat conducted in the last 11 years.

"It is frustrating the lack of current research. There is around 250 people logged in on this webinar - that suggests it is a problem and people are interested in understanding and finding solutions," he said.

With an early autumn break and subsequent increased clover growth with colder weather, the number of bloat cases are on the rise. Photos: Hannah Powe

With an early autumn break and subsequent increased clover growth with colder weather, the number of bloat cases are on the rise. Photos: Hannah Powe

Producers chasing good growth rates on high quality, usually lucerne, pastures are generally at risk with bloat, but with an early autumn break and subsequent increased clover growth with colder weather the prevalence of bloat is up.

It can be treated with 100 to 200 millilitres of vegetable or paraffin oil down the throat, or with stabbing at the highest point but prevention is better where possible.

Immediate bloat prevention can be supplied via blocks, loose licks or liquids.

"An antifoaming agent, alcohol ethoxylate or Teric oil (found in blocks or licks), if consumed will prevent frothy bloat. They need 10 to 30 grams per day, and they need that everyday," he said.

Momensin is an ionophor antibiotic that prevents production of foaming gas by changing microbial population in the rumen so gas isn't produced.

"It takes 10 to 14 days for it to be effective, so animals need to be on it for two weeks prior," Prof Allworth said.

"Stock need a minimum of 200mg/hd/day to prevent bloat. Once they stop consuming it the rumen reverts back within days and stock can again be susceptible to bloat."

Hay in conjunction at around 10 to 20pc of the diet can be fed, but recent cases show animals still bloating with hay in their rumens.

The effectiveness of these treatments all rely on animals consuming the necessary rate for prevention.

"Previously capsules guaranteed animals were getting the supplement and they worked in clover situations but not with lucerne - that is why it was taken off the market, Prof Allworth said.

Producers looking for long-term prevention should look at changing their pasture mix or possible capsule availability post 2021.

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