Agents report state’s farmers battling forage issues

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Bloat: Several Extension agents around the State are reporting that some producers are continuing to lose cattle to clover bloat. I just wanted to remind you of the factsheet that covers this topic ID-186 Managing Legume Induced Bloat in Cattle.

Jeff Lehmkuhler, UK Extension Beef Specialist, cautions that feed additives, like Poloxalene, used to aid in reducing the risk to bloat must be consumed at the targeted levels every day.

Overcrowding around blocks and mineral feeders will prevent some cattle from obtaining their necessary amount. Last week’s sudden heat wave pushed cattle to seek shade. Heat will also slightly alter grazing patterns resulting in larger meal bouts and increased risk to bloat. Moving the bloat blocks and mineral feeders near shade and water sources will encourage more consumption during this heat and may lower risk.

Producers should use 1 block / 5 head or less to avoid overcrowding and increase opportunities for all cattle to consume the blocks or minerals. Placing some high quality grass hay near the shade areas will also stimulate greater consumption of hay to lower the risk of bloat.

One feed manufacturer, Burkmann Feeds, sells a custom pellet that contains poloxalene (same ingredient in the bloat blocks) formulated to be fed at 1 pound per head per day. The cost is around $600-650/ton which is roughly $0.30 per head per day and not much more than the $0.20 per head day that the blocks are likely costing. I don’t endorse particular feeds or manufacturers, so you may want to call around to local feed suppliers and see if they have a similar product.

You might want to keep a bottle of Therabloat (liquid poloxalene) on hand to drench bloated animals. The rate for Therabloat is 1 to 2 fluid ounces depending on the animal’s weight. Mineral oil can also be used to lower the foaming in the rumen and allow the gas to escape. The recommended dosage for oils and fats is between 80 and 250 milliliters per head.  Always call your local veterinarian as treatment can be a challenge. Severely bloated animals can die within minutes.

For more information, call the Trimble County Extension Office and ask for publication ID-186: Managing Legume Induced Bloat in Cattle.

Baling Forages: As many of you can attest to last week, putting up hay can be an extremely tricky proposition given our spring weather conditions.

One alternative might be to bale the forage, then wrap it in plastic for ensiling. Round bale silage (or balage) is the product of cutting forage crops with conventional hay harvest equipment, allowing the forage to wilt to between 40 and 60 percent drymatter, baling the forage into tight bales, and quickly wrapping the bales in plastic so that oxygen is excluded. This reduces the amount of time the forage needs to wilt before baling. It can be especially beneficial if rain is approaching, which can greatly reduce the quality of your forage. For more information on balage, just ask for publication AGR-173: Baling Forages for silage, available at the Trimble County Extension Office.

Harvest Aides: Don’t forget, we have several hay temperature probes and a hay moisture meter available for free check-out at the Trimble County Extension Office.

Michael Pyles is Trimble County’s Cooperative Extension agent for agriculture.