Sunday, May 17, 2015

Sunday Reading - So Apparently Good Pastures Are Not Always a Good Thing

I can't speak to the mess the old Nag pasture has become. Horses have a bad habit of only eating the good stuff and leaving the bad to multiply and I haven't had much time or desire to fix their pasture anyway. However I can attest that the sheep pasture I recently fenced in contains the proper mix of grasses and a bit of clover for what is suppose to be prime pasturage for them.

Apparently though "Prime" has conditions attached to it.

Last year I had the yearlings we kept and the non-bred ewes plus a couple of whethers out there the entire Summer without a problem. Last Fall I frost seeded in a grazing mix just to be certain a had good stuff coming back this Spring and when I walked the area several times since it warmed up I have been pleased by the mix. Mostly it's fescue with a bit of orchard grass and some Dutch Clover volunteers with a very little bit of red clover and some other broad leaf weeds here and there. Sheep love the broad leaf weeds as they are primarily forb grazers anyway.

My estimation of the Clovers were that they didn't make up enough of the mix overall to be a concern. They should add just the right amount of extra protein without being exclusive and causing bloat.

Apparently though bloat becomes more of an issue during periods of heavy rains.

One of the ewes, Milly, was showing a bit of bloat this afternoon. This really puzzled me because as I said it isn't like this is the first time I have had sheep on this pasture. It also isn't like I just turned em out there either, they been going out there each day since Wednesday now. Any dramatic change in diet effects should have been seen Wednesday or Thursday. So we got some vegetable oil, water and baking soda mix down her and she isn't showing any signs of discomfort, in fact she is eating hay in the barn about every time I go and check on her. We called the Vet to see and he told us that people all over our area are having big time bloat problems right now because all the rain is causing the normally good clovers to clump up into bloat conditions.

Until it dries out he recommended we dry lot the sheep and feed hay in the mornings and only let them out into the pasture for a few hours in the afternoon.

Kinda defeats all the good parts about opening up pasturage now doesn't it?

Yes drought sucks but the rainy season isn't without it's issues either besides bringing my projects to a screeching halt it seems.

Oh and also four days of almost constant rain and clouds has pretty much drained the solar fence charger battery too, even though I turn it off at night. So I guess it works out alright anyway since now I need at least a day of sunlight to get it charged back up again.

If it ain't one thing it's another.

Keep Prepping Everyone!!!!!


  1. You're the second person I have heard mention baking soda and water for bloat in sheep. We lost a bottle fed lamb a couple of weeks ago and a lady at my knitting group said they always gave their bloated sheep and lambs baking soda (bicarb soda - yes I'm Australian) to help them when they bloated up. She also mentioned that they used to sprinkle the bicarb soda on their feed as they ate it as they ate their feed and it helped to prevent bloat. Have to ask though what does the vegetable oil do?

    PS been reading your blog for a while just haven't commented. I'm very impressed in what you are achieving. Well done.

    1. Calidore - Thanks for commenting and being a regular reader!!! And thanks for the kind words!!!

      As I understand it from what the Vet told me is that all this moisture causes the clovers to create a layer inside the stomach that ends up blocking the gas process. He told us we should always give the sheep a bit of grain and/or hay before letting them out into lush, wet pasture. The oil helps the infusion to pass through to where the vegetable mat is lodged and then the baking soda helps bring the bubbles up and through so the bloated sheep can then begin burping normally. Apparently a bit of hay before eating the green pasture mix pretty much keeps the mat from forming.

      My guess is the bicarb would work no matter how it was delivered and if fed on the grain before they were turned out on the pasture would act as an extra preventive measure.

      The Vet and our shearer both said it's best to just give it to em when in doubt as it can't hurt em. My only thought was that the oil would cause me some discomfort for a few days even if it helped the gas release.

      The ewe looked much less like she had a balloon in her side this morning though.

    2. PS sorry to hear about the loss of a bottle baby. As the one who has to deal with the grown up version of bottle babies around here I find them somewhat annoying but they are usually also so charming they win my heart over as well. Just don't tell anyone ;)

  2. PP - you know how much i hate admitting this...but i learn stuff from your blog that i didn't ever have a clue about - thanks so much for being such a great teacher!

    now don't let your head get all blowed up and swell to a point where you can't fit through a normal-sized door. i mean it! bahahahahah!

    much love! your friend,

  3. PP,

    Yeah!!! I second what Kymber said :P:P:P

  4. I put baking soda on my goats feed everyday as a preventative for bloat. I don't know how it works, but I know I haven't had bloat. My bottle baby didn't get bloat and all three of my friends bottle babies did. She doesn't feed baking soda. Once I decide how, I am going to free feed the baking soda. I understand that the animals will eat it as they need it.

  5. Thanks everyone for the advice on the baking soda and bloat. I'm so glad I read this blog - I learn so much. :-)))))) With the next crop of orphan lambs (next year thank goodness) I'll try the baking soda and see how I go. If necessary I'll add it to the milk I feed them and see if that helps. We already add some castor oil to the bottle of those lambs who look like they are bound up. Ohh and my mum says to add a pinch of salt to the bottle of any lamb who has the runs. I did it with those who had scours and it stopped it within about 24 hours. Sometimes you may need to add salt to their feed for a day or two until they are pooping like they should again. I hate loosing a lamb especially as DD and I have to fight so hard to save them. Often they are starving when we get them and it feels so good to have a live and very cuddly baby at the end of it. Pioneer Preppy your secret is safe with me regarding the grown up versions of bottle babies. I have one here to and she thinks she is human..sigh.

  6. Grass tetany or grass staggers is a danger to cows on early spring pasture. Low blood magnesium. Our cows would always drop in milk production on new grass then go back up.

    Its Easier to prevent than to treat as they can just drop dead Suddenly.
    as for salt-- all livestock should have free choice access to salt.
    i don't know about other species but preweaned calves bloat when overfed. better to keep them alittle hungry. And never restart feeding if you've stopped. Like at weaning. Better to use an electrolyte mixture if dehydrated or off feed. I found feeding probiotics and early colostrum is a cheaper alternative to treatment or losing an animal.

    Bicarb is a buffer. It keeps rumen pH where it should be. A dairy farmer i occasionally milk for dumps a 50 lb bag in the trough and the cows go at it free choice. --- Shudder--- its so bitter. We add it to corn when grinding feed So it's fed continuously and consistently.


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