Friday, May 18, 2012

Teaching lambs to prevent bloat

Bloat can be a serious condition in ruminant livestock.  To simulate bloat, a Utah researcher inserted balloons into the rumens of cannulated lambs. When the lambs ate one food, the balloons were inflated to simulate bloat.  When they ate other food, the balloons were deflated to simulate relief.

What the lambs ate was monitored to see if they learned from their experiences. They did. They formed strong aversions to the foods associated with inflation of the balloon and gut distension. They formed a strong preference for the foods associated with deflation of the balloons.

The next step in the research is to determine if the lambs will form the same aversions and preferences under field conditions. For example, if given the choice, will they choose a mixture of birdsfoot trefoil and alfalfa (versus just alfalfa) to prevent bloat.

Source:  Utah State University

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