Animal Health

Ruminal Bloat

What is it?

  • High quality leaf proteins fermenting rapidly in the rumen, forming a stable foam that prevents stock from belching gas.

Preventative measures

  • Don’t allow hungry stock sudden unrestricted access to lucerne.
  • Offer hay or straw to reduce appetite and to help break down rumen foam.
  • Introduce stock later in the day when dew or frost is off the lucerne.
  • Slow the grazing rotation, allowing lucerne to become more fibrous.
  • Add bloat oil to stock drinking water or as bloat blocks.
  • Use Rumensin as anti-bloat capsules, or as Rumensin Trough Treatment.
  • Mowing and wilting lucerne in front of cattle.


Red Gut in Sheep

What is it?

  • High quality lucerne leaving the rumen too quickly, passing to the intestines and continuing to ferment, forming gas and causing the intestines to twist.

Preventative measures

  • Offer hay or straw to slow the passage of feed from the rumen and to increase the volume of the rumen (less room for the intestines to twist).
  • Allow access to poorer quality pasture or hay for seven days first.


Thiamine Deficiency

What is it?

  • Changes to the types of rumen microbes that break down thiamine caused by sudden change in diet.

Preventative measures

  • Gradually adapt stock from poor quality forages to lucerne.
  • Provide extra fibre through hay or straw.
  • Slow the grazing rotation, allowing lucerne to become more fibrous.
  • Thiamine injections for stock before they go onto lucerne may help (consult your veterinarian).


Sodium Deficiency

What is it?

  • Low sodium levels for the animal because the lucerne is “natrophobic” and does not accumulate sodium in the green part of the plant.

Preventative measures

  • Supplementation of stock with sodium as salt blocks or salt licks.


 

Enterotoxaemia (Pulpy Kidney)

What is it?

  • High quality lucerne passing to the intestines where it encourages rapid growth of Clostridia that produce toxins.

Preventative measures

  • Vaccination of stock with a Clostridial vaccine, with the second (booster) shot administered 10-14 days before stock start grazing lucerne.


Infertility in Ewes

What is it?

  • A reduction in ovulation rates caused by feeding lucerne before or during joining/mating. Lucerne stressed by insect attack or foliar disease may produce coumestrol, the compound that reduces ovulation.

Preventative measures

  • Healthy, normal lucerne plants should not produce coumestrol. If in doubt, do not graze ewes on lucerne or feed lucerne hay or silage before or during joining/mating.


Metabolic Disease

What is it?

  • High concentrations of potassium and/or calcium in lucerne which increases the risk of hypocalcaemia in dairy cattle before and after calving.

Preventative measures

  • Don’t feed lucerne hay or silage to springing dairy cows before calving.

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