Because of the potential for increased gains many producers are grazing legume forages like alfalfa & clover however the downside of potential death loss keeps many producers from taking advantage of the significant gains that can be realized. There are several things that can be part of an effective management plan to mitigate the bloat risk.
Some recent studies through Alberta Agriculture using at least 15% Sainfoin as part of the legume mixture has been shown to control bloat. There are commercial bloat prevention products that have varied claims and efficacy. Silent Herder is a mineral product that is used but has no claim for bloat. A liquid product called Alfasure with the active ingredient Poloxalene has a registered claim for bloat. The downside is that it is administered through the drinking water and if other non- treated water sources are available, control will be limited. A mineral with poloxalene that is consumed in the pasture is another method that is effective. The ionophore Bovatec has a claim for bloat in the USA, however is not approved in Canada. Your veterinarian could prescribe a trace mineralized salt with Bovatec if he felt that would be appropriate. Oxytetracycline Hydrochloride also has a claim for reducing the incidence of bloat in young cattle on pasture that your veterinarian could prescribe.
Some management measures that should be utilized when using bloat prevention products will help ensure successful legume grazing. Feed bloat prevention products at least 2-3 days before exposure to bloat producing pastures and ensure animals are well fed before entering pastures. The placement of dry roughage (hay or straw) in pastures and ensuring recommended consumption of bloat prevention products will also help mitigate the risks. With the use of bloat prevention products, good management practices, and good luck, grazing legume pastures can be successful.
*For more information, please contact Craig at (403)-894-3147