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Minimise deaths from bloat

Farmers have been warned to carefully monitor livestock and take precautions against bloat, as lush spring pastures increase the risk of animal deaths.

Central Tablelands Local Land Services Vets have already received numerous reports of cattle deaths from bloat on improved pastures over winter and the wet spring is creating ideal conditions for legume growth.

Orange based Central Tablelands Local Land Services Vet, Dr Amy Masters, says animals are at risk of bloat when grazing young, rapidly growing pastures, particularly if the clover or lucerne content is greater than 50 percent.

“Ruminant animals produce large volumes of gas during normal digestion. This gas is usually released via belching or passing into the gastrointestinal tract,” Dr Masters said.

“When livestock graze legumes and some rapidly growing grasses, gas can become trapped in a stable foam layer in the rumen, preventing the animal from releasing it through normal flatulence.”

“Without timely treatment the rumen can become severely distended and quickly cause compression of the lungs, obstruction to blood flow, and death.”

Dr Masters urged beef producers to closely monitor cattle grazing high risk pastures for symptoms of bloat.

“Livestock suffering from bloat will usually stop eating, they may be reluctant to move and will have an obvious distension of their left flank,” Dr Masters said.

“They become distressed and may be observed vocalising, breathing rapidly with their mouth open and staggering prior to death.”

Early intervention and treatment of mild cases with commercially available oral anti-bloat drenches will give cattle the best chance of recovery. More severely affected stock may require emergency consultation with a private veterinary practitioner.

Dr Masters encouraged producers to contact their Local Land Services district vet if cattle presumed to be affected by bloat are found to have died suddenly.

“A post mortem examination can confirm bloat and potentially rule out other serious diseases.”

“Minimising losses from bloat requires careful grazing management and the provision of suitable anti-bloat products for vulnerable stock,” Dr Masters said.

“Hungry animals should never be given access to risky pastures. Farmers are advised to avoid introducing them to a new paddock after any period when feed has been withheld, such as post yarding or transportation.”

“Cattle should be fed hay or allowed to graze their old paddock for several hours before being turned on to a new pasture for the first time in the afternoon. These precautions will reduce their appetite and lessen the risk of immediate gorging.”

Commercial bloat preventatives are available in a variety of forms including lick blocks, loose licks and as water additives. Stock producers should consult their district vet for advice on the most suitable products for their flock or herd.

For more information contact Central Tablelands Local Land Services Vet, Dr Amy Masters on: 0428 710 002 or email:

Media enquiries: Kylie Krause | 0439608370