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Call to avoid clover pastures.

Welsh farmers experiencing higher than average losses of cattle to bloat this month are being urged to avoid grazing pastures with high clover content at peak risk times.

National Animal Disease Information Service vet Mike Howe says bloat is one of the most common causes of death in adult cattle at grass. And the problem has been particularly apparent this spring.

Mr Howe, who is based in Pembrokeshire, says it was much more effective to prevent bloat than to treat affected animals.

'Management and planning can significantly reduce the number of cases,' Mr Howe says.

Pastures with a history of bloat problems or with a high clover content should not be used for cows soon after turnout.

And Mr Howe also advises farmers to stagger turnout with buffer feeding to allow the rumen to adapt to a new diet.

'In particular they should try to keep up fibre intakes at risk periods,' he says.

A report by Richard Laven, manager of the Scottish Agricultural College's surveillance centre, advises farmers to introduce cattle to high risk pastures slowly.

'In some cases restricting access to as little as 10 minutes a day at the start may be necessary to prevent bloat,' says Mr Laven.

Grazing high risk pastures when they are wet should also be avoided.

If bloat is a severe problem, anti-foaming agents can be administered daily.

'If this is the case and strip grazing is possible, spraying anti-foaming oils emulsified with water onto the grass can significantly reduce labour costs,' says Mr Laven.
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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:May 18, 2004
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