Missouri Ruralist logo

5 Tips to prevent pasture bloat in livestock

Legume bloat is killing cattle in Missouri. 5 Tips that could prevent it.

Mindy Ward, Editor, Missouri Ruralist

May 9, 2016

2 Min Read

There has been an unusually high number of pasture bloat problems among cattle in southwest Missouri, according to Eldon Cole, livestock specialist with University of Missouri Extension. And several cattle deaths have occurred.

"Some of those cattle deaths were posted by veterinarians, and frothy bloat was found to be the cause," said Cole.

Clover is very evident in most pastures this year. This follows a tremendous amount of common white or ladino clover in 2015.

"Some farmers report the clover is so dense it is crowding out their fescue, ryegrass, and orchardgrass," said Cole.


Legumes such as ladino are great to blend in cool season grass pastures especially those based on toxic Kentucky 31 fescue. Clover helps dilute the toxin intake and provides valuable nitrogen for the grass when it is about 25% to 30% of the stand.

Some farmers and extension specialists estimate this year the percent of ladino and white clover approaches 50%, even up to 75% or more.

"Normally with the legume in the 30% range bloat is seldom a concern. However, this spring the super abundance of clover may be too much of a good thing," said Cole.

Cow-calf and stocker operators have not all been affected by the bloat concern according to Cole.

"Anytime death loss occurs producers become uneasy and fear their herd may be the next one to have a loss," said Cole.

There are precautions to follow that reduce the likelihood of bloating, according to Cole. Here are 5 Tips to prevent pasture bloat:

1. Provide hay before pasture turnout. Fill cattle up with dry, grass hay before turning them into a damp, lush pasture with lots of legumes in it.

2. Increase availability of hay. Keep dry hay out where cattle pass by it daily.

3. Watch cattle carefully. Observe cattle regularly and note those that may show bloat symptoms. Some cattle are more susceptible to bloat due to genetics.

4. Provide antifoaming agent. Offer poloxalene containing blocks or feed ahead of turning in to a high-risk pasture and follow instructions closely.

5. Cut hay early. Consider cutting the field for hay if that is an option.

"In spite of these options, there may still be risks, but as warm weather arrives and the clovers become more mature, the risk should subside," said Cole.

About the Author(s)

Mindy Ward

Editor, Missouri Ruralist

Mindy resides on a small farm just outside of Holstein, Mo, about 80 miles southwest of St. Louis.

After graduating from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a bachelor’s degree in agricultural journalism, she worked briefly at a public relations firm in Kansas City. Her husband’s career led the couple north to Minnesota.

There, she reported on large-scale production of corn, soybeans, sugar beets, and dairy, as well as, biofuels for The Land. After 10 years, the couple returned to Missouri and she began covering agriculture in the Show-Me State.

“In all my 15 years of writing about agriculture, I have found some of the most progressive thinkers are farmers,” she says. “They are constantly searching for ways to do more with less, improve their land and leave their legacy to the next generation.”

Mindy and her husband, Stacy, together with their daughters, Elisa and Cassidy, operate Showtime Farms in southern Warren County. The family spends a great deal of time caring for and showing Dorset, Oxford and crossbred sheep.

Subscribe to receive top agriculture news
Be informed daily with these free e-newsletters

You May Also Like