The University of Arizona

Practical measures for reducing risk of alfalfa bloat in cattle.

W. Majak, J.W. Hall, T.A. McAllister

Abstract


Frothy bloat in cattle is a serious problem and is difficult to manage under field conditions as it progresses rapidly from early signs of distension to acute distress. Scientists at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada centres in Western Canada are committed to the development of bloat-free alfalfa grazing systems, which may require feed additives or supplements. As well, a new cultivar of alfalfa (AC Grazeland), selected for a low initial rate of digestion, will soon be available. In grazing trials the cultivar reduced the incidence of bloat by an average of 56% compared with the control cultivar (Beaver). Commonly accepted mineral mixes for the prevention of bloat were tested and found ineffective but we have confirmed that poloxalene (Bloatguard) is 100% effective if it is given intraruminally at the prescribed dose. However, under practical conditions, poloxalene can only be offered free choice and protection from bloat cannot be guaranteed. We have also shown that the water soluble polymer, Blocare 4511, when used in the water supply is 100% effective in bloat prevention. This product is not yet registered in North America. Other strategies for bloat prevention will be discussed, including the selection of growth stages and grazing schedules, and the reduction of risk by wilting alfalfa or combining it with tannin-containing forages.

DOI:10.2458/azu_jrm_v54i4_majak


Keywords


rumen;bloat;disease control;polymers;dosage;feed additives;risk reduction;alfalfa;developmental stages;cultivars;water;incidence;digestibility;feed supplements;cattle;grazing

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