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The Moo News

Newsletter of Penn Dutch Cow Care                                                        June 2001

Hi Folks,

            As usual, I’d like to talk about things which may be seen currently with cows. So I’d like to talk about bloating due to pasture. We’ve had some herds experiencing this in the last few weeks. Pasture bloat results from cattle (and sometimes sheep and goats) grazing lush growing alfalfa and/or clover over the course of a few days. It takes a few days for the amount of legume taken in to build up to critical levels. The bloat itself is not a big gas pocket trapped in the rumen; rather it is millions of tiny bubbles that keep generating themselves to the point where the animal gets so tight internally that it chokes off and dies. Once an animal is down, death comes quickly. This condition is preventable. Feeding a flake or two of hay half an hour before putting cows onto pasture is the well-known traditional management tool. Also, not keeping the herd on a lush section of pure alfalfa/clover for more than 1-2 days is wise, especially if fast growing from rain after a dry spell (which we’ve had). Pasture bloat happens more often in spring and fall, or when climatic conditions are similar. Treatment consists of immediate drenching with poloxalene (Thera-bloat), mineral oil, vegetable oil, or Tide liquid laundry detergent. Poloxalene is the most effective, and dramatic results can be seen within minutes. Trocarizing or stabbing a cow with pasture bloat is unrewarding and usually leads to an infection. If you do stab her, do it in the left side where the rumen is. The cow’s “left” is your “left” when you are standing behind her. Cows munching on a mixed grass and clover pasture are not likely to get pasture bloat. Typical areas for allowing cows to simply go out and get their daily exercise are usually a safe mix of pasture species.  

            Speaking of pastures, there will be a “pasture walk” on Thurs. June 7th, 10:30-2:30, at Aaron King’s along Paradise Lane. This is a time where interested farmers can gather together and talk about the successes and challenges of utilizing pasture for their cows. Speakers include: Tim Fritz, Penn State Farm Management Extension Agent for Chester and Lancaster Counties; and Craig Legget, Barenbrug Seeds rep. Lunch will be provided. For more information, call Aaron King at 717-687-6224.  

            Speaking of successes, I have seen many more successes than failures when utilizing acupuncture on various conditions (cystic ovaries, down cows, slow rumens) over the last year. I have therefore enrolled in a course to study this method of therapy more in depth. This is to better help treat your animals. It will be four 4-day sessions, the first from Thurs. June 21-Sun. June 24. I will send postcards to remind you. The next 3 sessions will be in August, October and December.

For Bovinity Health, information on functional alternatives to antibiotics see:

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