22 November 1996

Ground-fed potatoes will lessen choke risk

POTATOES should be fed to cattle on the ground to minimise the risk of choke. Choke, caused by potatoes obstructing the gullet can lead to death if the obstruction is not promptly removed warns Scottish Agricultural College vet Mark Crawshaw.

Feeding cattle on the ground, and in the morning, can help says Signet consultant Geoff Fish. "Its best to ensure there are none available overnight. Then at least you can see if there are any cattle who are suffering from choke. Some producers have bought potato crushers or chippers, which helps to lessen risks."

Mr Crawshaw says producers should watch for cattle with saliva running from the mouth and suffering from bloat. "Coughing to clear saliva from the opening of the windpipe is common. The animal will often look distressed and make frequent chewing and swallowing movements. Treating choke will need a vet," he says.