Agriculture Commissioner Richie Farmer has asked Gov. Steve Beshear to request a disaster declaration from the U.S. Department of Agriculture due to numerous cattle deaths from a weather-related condition commonly known as frothy bloat. The culprit is white clover which is growing faster than grass in many wet fields.
Kentucky cattle have consumed greater quantities of clover this year, which has led to many cases of the deadly bloat. Clover is high in soluble protein that, combined with rapid fermentation, produces a foam in the cow’s rumen that blocks the normal escape of the gas through belching. The first chamber of the stomach becomes enlarged, blowing up like a balloon, which limits breathing.
Agriculture Commissioner Farmer has been in contact with U.S. Rep. Ben Chandler and John W. McCauley, state executive director of the USDA’s Farm Service Agency, to ask about the release of relief funds through the Livestock Indemnity Program for Kentucky cattlemen whose herds have been affected by bloat.
Dave Maples, executive vice president of the Kentucky Cattlemen’s Association, said one Fayette County cattleman lost around 30 head, and just about everyone he’s talked with has lost at least one animal from bloat. Dr. Jeff Lehmkuhler, extension beef specialist at the University of Kentucky, said producers are suffering losses both from culling affected cattle and buying products to prevent bloat. One Kentucky producer lost nine cows from his his herd of 200.
Official numbers are not yet available on the number of Kentucky cattle killed by bloat, but we will be following this story.