Abomasal Bloat, Abomasal Emptying, & Feeding Programs
It would be nice to report that there is one simple fix to promote gut health and avoid abomasal bloat. The authors of "Invited Review: Abomasal emptying n calves and its potential influence on gastrointestinal disease", however, after 12 pages of scientific review offer this summary:
"Ultimately, the exact etiology of abomasal bloat is unknown, but it likely involves both bacteria that produce gas as well as something that slows abomasal emptying." (p29).
So, given that we have only a partial understanding of why abomasal bloat happens, do the authors have any helpful ideas?
They observe that we can follow a few management procedures that avoid slowing down the rate of abomasal emptying.
1. For milk replacer, be cautious when mixing at densities greater than milk. Rates of bloat seem to go up as total solids go well above 15%. Thus, careful and consistent measurement of water and powder can avoid undesireable fluctuations resulting in very high solids levels.
2. For milk, monitoring solids levels seems to be a very sound practice. Especially when adding additional powder to achieve a fixed solids level (e.g., 15%) careful and consistent measurement of powder can avoid undesireable fluctuations resulting in very high solids levels.
3. The authors observe, "Another strategy to limit the effect on abomasal emptying is to feed smaller volumes of milk more frequently. [They mention that automatic feeders now make this a workable option.] ... Maintaining regular feeding schedules and making sure milk or milk replacer is warm also anecdotally appear to help reduce the incidence of abomasal bloat." (ps30).
Given that consistency of feeding management may be significantly related to regularity of abomasal emptying you may want to review the resource, "Consistency: Calf Care Checklist" found HERE or if you need the URL, http://atticacows.com/library/newsletters/ConsistencCalfCareChecklistR1867.pdf
Reference: Burgstaller, J., T Wittek, G. Smith, "Invited Review: Abomasal emptying n calves and its potential influence on gastrointestinal disease" Journal of Dairy Science 100:17-35 March 2018