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Wet conditions increase risk of bloat and pulpy kidney

Graziers in Western NSW are advised to be on alert for pulpy kidney and bloat in livestock following on from unusually wet conditions experienced in recent months.

Although these conditions are favourable for turning stock off quickly, Dr Sophie Hemley, District Veterinary Officer with Local Land Services Western Region, has warned livestock producers to be alert to the increased risk of diseases such as pulpy kidney and bloat.

“Livestock grazing lush rapidly growing pastures and cereal crops are most at risk of pulpy kidney (enterotoxaemia)," Dr Hemley said.

"Sheep, cattle, and goats can all be affected. If the pasture causes a sudden change in gut bacteria, the epsilon toxin can get into the blood.

"Typically, sudden death is the only symptom that will be observed.

“When given correctly, vaccination against clostridial disease, with 5-in-1, 6-in-1, 7-in-1 or 8-in1 vaccines will stop the toxin affecting animals. Also, if possible, increase dietary fibre content by providing free access to hay bales.”

Dr Hemley also warned about the risk of bloat and the need for quick action to treat stock.

“Western NSW has seen an exponential growth of legume content in pastures over recent months. Legumes contain natural foaming agents which produce stable foam within the rumen.

"Bloat occurs when gasses in the rumen are trapped in the foam, inhibiting the animal’s ability to release that gas through normal belching.

“Medics, clovers and lucernes in particular have high foam producing content. Temporarily increased levels of foaming agents can also be seen in rapidly growing grasses.

“Cattle are more severely affected by bloat than sheep. Bloat commonly affects sheep at the same time as pulpy kidney.

“Treatment of bloat can be difficult and it is advised to contact your local District Veterinarian if you believe livestock may be affected.”

Unfortunately, anti-bloat rumen capsules are still unavailable nationwide at this point in time but practical preventative measures for bloat include:

  • restricting pasture intake – strip grazing or limiting the time on pastures with a high legume content
  • increasing dietary fibre content by providing hay
  • providing anti-bloat blocks and/or dry loose licks – available at farm produce outlets
  • hand feeding rumen modifiers such as monensin to reduce methane production – available through veterinarians.

Livestock producers are encouraged to contact their nearest Local Land Services District Vet to discuss concerns about ill livestock or inquire about animal health in Western NSW:


Media contact: Meg Strang, 0429 340 600.