Will constantly keeping hay in front of cattle make them bloat?

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Taylor30

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We had a 7-year-old cow bloat and die and two days later a 900-pound calf (born around August) did the same. Both their rear ends were protruding out when we found them. We're trying to figure out why they're bloating. The hay the cow was on was clean hay, not full of weeds. Some of the other cows are also starting to look bigger.

The calf was in a separate area and got fed corn twice a day, approx. 6 pounds total. The hay he got wasn't always as good but wasn't terrible. They both had hay in front of them and could eat as much as they want whenever. Thinking maybe we should stop keeping hay in front of them all the time and let their stomachs shrink a bit?
 

TCRanch

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Doubtful it's because they always had access to hay. My entire herd in all pastures always has bales available. Depending on the time of year: brome, alfalfa or prairie. Supplemented with 20% protein cubes (primarily in the winter), a 30% protein tub and free choice minerals.

Were their rear ends protruding because they were dead, therefore bloated, or are you talking about anal prolapses?
 
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Taylor30

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What type of hay?
Normally hay won't cause that issue.
Necropsy MIGHT tell u what's going on.
Doubtful it's because they always had access to hay. My entire herd in all pastures always has bales available. Depending on the time of year: brome, alfalfa or prairie. Supplemented with 20% protein cubes (primarily in the winter), a 30% protein tub and free choice minerals.

Were their rear ends protruding because they were dead, therefore bloated, or are you talking about anal prolapses?
No they weren't prolapsed, nothing was hanging out of them
 

Hereford2

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If they're on grain and they aren't eating enough hay to balance out their Grain intake that can cause them to bloat and die
 

Hereford2

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I had a bale in with a bull I was fattening last year for slaughter, he started acting weird and went off his feed, and I realized that he hadn't hardly touched the bale of hay so I put a better bale in, he went to eating it and straightened out and was fine.
 

WFfarm

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We feed big round bales in hay feeder rings and will give them enough bales on a Sunday to last until about Thursday or Friday. So for most of the winter they have free access to hay. Ours in mostly timothy/orchard grass with mix of alfalfa and clover. Have never had a cow bloat from eating straight hay.
 

Ky hills

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I don't think having free choice hay would be the issue. If its the hay, I would think the only real issue could be possibly a lot of mold in it. Our hay is largely lesser quality, so we supplemental feed in the winter, to ensure that they get adequate nutrition.
 

Dsth

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I start feeding free choice alfalfa hay in the fall when pastures get short and start calving in December. cows and calves have free choice hay until spring when pastures are growing good. only time I had a bloat problem was after calves pulled down a piece of Styrofoam insulation and ate some of it. Had 3 calves bloat and 2 apparently passed it out but one did not and died. My vet and I determined that is why but did not open dead calf to verify. I have talked to vet about bloating on freshly baled hay that may have been baled wet and fed right from the baler. He claims it is pretty unlikely cows/calves will bloat on hay unless it has a really high % leaves and freshly baled. Agree with previous post that bloat was probably from death not the cause.
 

Lucky_P

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Not seeing the cow/calf or the hay, we're all just guessing.
I'll throw out one more... 'cause I've seen it more times than I can shake a stick at...I'm not saying this is the problem, but it's a scenario that happens... almost every year.

You've got free-choice hay out for the cows. Access 24/7. Nothing else to eat. But... it's really poor quality hay with Crude Protein level down around 3 or 4. Not enough protein/nitrogen in it to allow the rumen microflora to digest it... so it just kind of 'sits there'... takes longer to process and pass through... so the cows' consumption decreases - there's not enough room for them to eat more... and since it's not providing adequate nutrition, they start catabolizing body fat stores and, eventually, muscle.
Body condition is decreasing rapidly, but the stockman either doesn't notice because they're not really LOOKING AT the cows - just putting out more has as needed... or just can't believe that the cows are starving to death, because "They have all the hay that they can eat!" Cows start dying, but have big distended abdomens...not really bloated, per se... but full of poorly-digestible hay.

Again, I'm not saying that's what's going on with Taylor30's cattle - especially since the calf was also getting supplemental corn feeding - but it may be time to have another set of eyes - like your local food animal veterinarian - take a look.
 

RobinSm89

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as far as I know, it is not always necessary to take food from the cow, they will be able to control themselves, I think that they simply may have some kind of infection, which is why they died
 

Johnnybar

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Sort through your hay to see if any toxic plants were baled. I've had cows lay down and die and found perilla mint afterward. There are many plants to consider and many hay producers have no idea what they are rolling up in the fields.
 

herofan

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We feed big round bales in hay feeder rings and will give them enough bales on a Sunday to last until about Thursday or Friday. So for most of the winter they have free access to hay. Ours in mostly timothy/orchard grass with mix of alfalfa and clover. Have never had a cow bloat from eating straight hay.
I do that as well. I know several people that feed round bales in rings, and they put hay out every day; that’s just their routine. I never understood why not put enough out to last a few days.
 

Richnm

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Nope. I leave unlimited hay in front of my cows. Even good quality DRY alfalfa. I have 100 feet of fence line feeder panels and leave 15 large square bales in front of the cows at all times.
 

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