Cattle ranchers battle deadly clover colic in local pastures

Source: WAFB
Source: WAFB
Source: WAFB
Source: WAFB
Source: WAFB
Source: WAFB
Source: WAFB
Source: WAFB

ST. GABRIEL, LA (WAFB) - Clovers are starting to pop up in the grass. While they might be harmless to humans, they can be deadly to cattle.

Deep in a 300-acre pasture off River Rd., you'll find cattleman, Carol Gueho, almost any day of the week. He said it has been his life for some 50 years.

"Ever since I was a kid, anytime someone wanted help with their cattle, I'd run to go help. For some reason, I thought I had to be a cowboy," Gueho said.

The cattle rancher now tends to over 250 heads of cattle on six pastures. He has come to learn a lot about raising cattle. Gueho said some lessons were tougher than others.

"I found six cows dead one morning. They got into another pasture and the clover was wet and they ate too much clover that night and the next morning they were dead," Gueho said.

Gueho said he learned the cows died from something called clover colic. He said it happens when cows eat so much clover they get bloated and can't expel the gas. If it is not treated immediately, the cattle can suffocate and die. Louisiana Commissioner of Agriculture and Forestry Mike Strain said bloat is one of the oldest diseases in veterinary medicine. Some cows can handle the proteins and chemicals produced by the plant, but most of them cannot.

"If you turn these cattle out and you don't observe them and they are on lush pasture, you can have ten or 20 percent loss of your cattle herd within a few days," Strain said.

Strain said management is key. While some cattle ranchers use supplements and minerals to keep the cows healthy, the commissioner said seasoned cattlemen plant wisely. Gueho said, simply scattering ryegrass in the pasture limits the amount of clover they eat.

"I've been using ryegrass for 50 years now actually and I found out it really helps," Gueho said.

Gueho keeps a close watch over his herd and listens carefully for any signs of distress. While clover colic is still very common in cows, you could say he has got a good handle on his brand.

Even though clover colic can be a tremendous financial loss for cattlemen, the disease does not impact humans.

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