Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Bloated Cow Syndrome

Saw a headline online that said: "Lush Kentucky pastures causing bloat problem". Needless to say, I had to click on that. And I learned something today.

Evidently "frothy bloat" is a major problem in the bovine industry, and recent grazing conditions in Kentucky have been ideal for the condition. The article says frothy bloat is distinctly different from gaseous bloat, which happens more often when cattle are consuming grain.

Once the bloat sets in, death can occur within 1 to 4 hours. Why? How? The article explains:

“Usually frothy bloat happens when cattle are grazing forages that are high in soluble protein combined with rapid fermentation,” said Jeff Lehmkuhler, Extension beef specialist for the UK College of Agriculture. “It produces a stable foam in the rumen that blocks the normal escape of the gas from fermentation through eructation or belching.”

When the gas cannot escape, the cow’s rumen becomes distended similar to blowing up a balloon, and that can impact the animal’s ability to breathe normally because of pressure against the diaphragm, added Michelle Bilderback, UK College of Agriculture Extension veterinarian.

I was around cattle all the time on the old family farm back in Waco, and I never heard of such a thing. But a quick Google search was performed and sure enough, serious cattle farmers discussing cow bloat can be found all over the net. One heartwarming anecdote is told here with the headline "I Stabbed My Cow":

"i stabbed her hard..the whole knife blade went in..i quickly pulled it about three seconds she started quieting down..the gas coming out was keeping the hole could see her stomach going down..jess put a halter on her and slowly led her around..the gas kept coming out..she kept getting smaller and quieter..cathy went in and called the vet.she told him i had already stabbed her..he was amazed 30 years he had never done it nor seen it done..he said all the bloated cows were dead by the time he got there."

1 comment:

Molly said...

This explains something I have wondered for years. About 16 years ago a friend of mine and I were driving back roads in rural KY and I saw what we thought were several dead cows on this farm, puffed up like balloons...

The farmer had a pitch fork and I assumed he was trying to toss them up on a truck, but maybe he was pokin' them with the fork, trying to save them.

Or maybe it was just a really bad dream ;)