Penn State
ForagesPeopleTopicsResourcesSelection ToolContact Info


Topics : Pastures : Grazing Alfalfa

Grazing Alfalfa

Additional pasture information via the Forage Information System (FIS)


Managing to Prevent Bloat

Bloat can be a problem when animals are grazed on young, lush alfalfa. Bloat can be prevented through management practices, feeding poloxalene or a combination of both. New grazing-type alfalfa varieties are just as likely to cause bloat as traditional hay-type varieties. Some of the management tips include:

  1. Fill animals with another roughage before turning them onto alfalfa the first time. Don't allow animals to get hungry. Hungry animals may over-eat and bloat when they get fresh pasture.
  2. Gradually (over a 5 or 6 day period) increase the time that animals have access to alfalfa pasture.
  3. Observe animals at least twice a day when they are turned onto alfalfa pasture. Some animals are chronic bloaters and should be watched especially close or removed from the pasture.
  4. Once they are use to alfalfa pasture, leave the animals on the pasture constantly, even at night.
  5. Extra caution should be taken during wet, cloudy period in the early spring when alfalfa is making its most rapid growth. Do not put animals onto alfalfa pasture if a heavy dew is present.
  6. More mature alfalfa is less likely to cause bloat. Minimize potential problems by initially turning them onto alfalfa that has reached the bloom stage.
  7. Begin feeding poloxalene 2 to 5 days before turning animals onto alfalfa pasture. Use higher dosages when animals are first placed on alfalfa pasture, and reduce the rate if no problems occur. Animals on lush alfalfa will require more poloxalene than on more mature alfalfa.