It’s the most wonderful time of the year on the farm...grazing season is here! As of this past week, ALL of our animals are out to pasture and are living their best life.
Grazing season is different every spring, this year because of the slow, cool start, the grasses and legumes are a bit behind. The pasture isn't as tall but with the heat these past few days, the grasses and legumes have really jumped up.
The transition from hay (dried grasses and legumes) to lush green grass is a tricky one for cattle and we keep a close eye on them to make sure they don't bloat.
It’s caused by a change of feed plus their voracious appetite for fresh lush grass. I don't know about you, but I've certainly felt this way after overindulging at Thanksgiving.
We check on them regularly and slowly increase their grass consumption. We look for the herd to graze, then rest and digest (chew their cud).
Thankfully this year we haven't had any bloat in our cattle. Last year we did and that was because of all the rain we had last spring.
Here’s a picture of Goose last year looking mighty full. See how round her left side is? That’s one of the first signs of bloat; the protrusion of their rumen.
The rumen is right in front of their hip bone and only on their left side...it is usually soft and somewhat concave and an upside down triangle in shape.
If they are bloated, it is protruding like a beach ball and is rock hard. Often you can tell the animal is uncomfortable by their behaviour. The cows do not have any way of releasing that gas once it’s there.
We try to burp them by pushing on the rumen and we also give them an anti gas (it’s a minty chalky substance) orally that relieves the gas. In severe cases vets have to surgically cut open the rumen to expel the gas, and sometimes put a vent in to let that build up of gas out.
Once an animal bloats you have a very limited time to treat. If we see any signs of bloat, no matter how mild, we give them a little anti gas to be sure it doesn’t progress.
We're out of the bloat alert now which is a relief and we can just enjoy watching them move across the pasture. There's nothing quite like a field full of grazing cows...very pastoral. It's my favourite time of year and I'm pretty sure it's while I it's the cows' too.