There are three of our problems that have something in common and all three problems showed up around the same time. They are
The thing that was common between each of these problems was extensive wet weather in spring and pastures full of new growth. Last fall, we were looking for different things to plant in our pastures. Some of the articles talked about different plants that would help put nitrogen back in the soil and help minimize the amount of fertilizer required. These plants were also high in protein that would help minimize the amount of feed needed for ensuring the spring kids would grow quickly. One of the plants I seeded was Crimson Clover. Now there is nothing wrong with having Crimson Clover in your fields however any animal with a rumen can get bloated if they get too much of this clover. I had not paid attention to that bit of information because we have never had real problems with bloat at our old farm but we really did not have anything for them to browse either. What we did not realize was the names of other plants that we had growing naturally in our pastures in large amounts. Two of them were Burr clover and Kura (arrowhead) clover. Both of them can cause bloat if they represent too high of a percent of the total browse. So now I have planted Crimson Clover that can cause bloat and have two other clovers naturally growing in several of the pastures that also can cause bloat.
Our goats had been grazing these pastures for 6 months before and had been eating the Kura and Burr clovers and having no problems. The problem seems to be related to a specific growth period and being wet when eaten. When these plants are in a new growth stage they can be more apt to cause bloat in an animal and we believe that is what occurred with the animals we had die from bloat.
We have had some people tell us we could try to get rid of the clovers but I believe that they are, nutritionally, too valuable plus they help improve the pastures by putting nitrogen back into the soil. These clovers are similar to alfalfa in protein value, which can also cause bloat. We believe the Burr and Kura clovers are valuable and we don't need or want to be planting other clovers in our pastures. We have found that Boer goats are not the only animals that can be affected by too much clover at the wrong time. It is a common problem with cattle as well as any other rumen type of animal. We believe that we did not understand all we needed to know about using pastures with plentiful varieties of nutrition with times of wet weather.
Our approach to minimizing bloat possibilities in our herd include: