• Practical measures for reducing risk of alfalfa bloat in cattle

      Majak, W.; Hall, J. W.; McAllister, T. A. (Society for Range Management, 2001-07-01)
      Frothy bloat in cattle is a serious problem and is difficult to manage under field conditions as it progresses rapidly from early signs of distension to acute distress. Scientists at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada centres in Western Canada are committed to the development of bloat-free alfalfa grazing systems, which may require feed additives or supplements. As well, a new cultivar of alfalfa (AC Grazeland), selected for a low initial rate of digestion, will soon be available. In grazing trials the cultivar reduced the incidence of bloat by an average of 56% compared with the control cultivar (Beaver). Commonly accepted mineral mixes for the prevention of bloat were tested and found ineffective but we have confirmed that poloxalene (Bloatguard®) is 100% effective if it is given intraruminally at the prescribed dose. However, under practical conditions, poloxalene can only be offered free choice and protection from bloat cannot be guaranteed. We have also shown that the water soluble polymer, Blocare® 4511, when used in the water supply is 100% effective in bloat prevention. This product is not yet registered in North America. Other strategies for bloat prevention will be discussed, including the selection of growth stages and grazing schedules, and the reduction of risk by wilting alfalfa or combining it with tannin-containing forages.
    • Review of toxic glycosides in rangeland and pasture forages

      Majak, W. (Society for Range Management, 2001-07-01)
      Ruminants are a diverse group of mammals, both domestic and wild species, that exhibit microbial fermentation prior to gastrointestinal activity. During the digestive process, glycosides and other natural products are exposed to ruminal microorganisms and metabolised as substrates. Most compounds are converted into nutrients but some become toxic metabolites. At least 10 types of toxic glycosides occur in forage species. Glycosides are characterized by the presence of one or more sugars linked to the alcohol or thiol functions of the non-sugar portion of the molecule, which is called the aglycone. The biological activity of the glycoside is usually determined by the chemical nature of the aglycone. The aglycones are released by microbial enzymes and may undergo further enzymatic or non-enzymatic transformations to yield toxic metabolites that can be absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract. Microbial detoxification of the aglycone is also possible. Further biotransformation of the aglycone can occur in the liver. A review is presented on glycosides that are toxic to ruminants. The discussion covers aliphatic nitrocompounds, cyanogenic glycosides, cardiac glycosides, saponins, glucosinolates, diterpenoid glycosides, bracken glycosides, calcinogens, phenolic glycosides and ranunculin. Clinical signs of poisoning and treatment of livestock as well as management strategies for the prevention of poisoning are considered.