|Lily, Surprise, and Ziggy|
The other day I let the girls into the new pasture for the first time. It was for about 10 or 15 minutes, just enough time to give them a taste without upsetting their tummies. Ruminants can have problems with fresh pasture when first introduced to it, specifically bloat. This has to do with their digestive microbes. Changes in diet must be slow to allow for changes in the microbes too.
I'd already introduced the fresh forage as "green feed," where I cut big basketsful of the pasture grasses and dumped it into their hay feeder. Later I increased it to twice a day. Before I actually let them into it, I made sure they'd just had a hay feeder full of a new armload of hay. I also made sure their baking soda feeder was fresh and that they got probiotics with their evening grain ration. All of that may have been overly cautious on my part, but I definitely do not want any problems.
The next day I increased their visit by another ten minutes. So far so good. I'll gradually increase it to full time because this must be their home pasture this summer.
For more information and several good articles about bloat, including how to treat it, the following are helpful resources:
- "Bloat" - University of Wisconsin Extension
- "Bloat" - Fias Co Farm
- "Bloat - How To Deal With This Emergency Situation by Sue Reith" - Dairy Goat Info.
- "Causes and Common Sense Prevention of Bloat" - GoatWorld
Hello Pasture © March 2013