Sweet clover disease is a poising you achieve from a type of hay or silage that is ingested. Sweet clover contains mold that produces metabolites, which will cause fetal hemorrhagic episodes in livestock. Not all moldy sweet clover is toxic and may not affect your livestock. However, also just because there is no mold visible doesn’t mean that dicoumarol isn’t present. Sweet clover poisoning happens less commonly in silage than in hay. An issue with sweet clover is that it contains a high level naturally occurring chemical known as coumarin which is not hurtful until spoilage. This chemical compound has a sweet fragrant however a bitter taste that keeps insects way, which is beneficial for farmer and there hay. Coumarin is a harmless compound until over heating which causes spoilages, therefore coumarin will break down into dicoumarol. Dicoumarol is an anticoagulants that has the function of depleting vitamin K.
Unfortunately, harvesting in an appropriate fashion can be challenging and demanding. When a farmer delays the cutting until full bloom, the now larger, high-moisture stems will take an extended time to dry. The quality of the leaves decreases because of leaf shattering. If baled prematurely with increased humidity spoilage can and will occur. Any technique of hay storage that allows molding of sweet clover promotes the likelihood of formation of dicumarol in the hay. Frequently the highest concentrations of dicourmarol are the outer portions of weathered, large round bales. This can become an issue because sweet clover is an cheaper and easily assessable form of livestock feed. It grows in many pastures and can become rich in years following good rainfall in the fall. All species of livestock is susceptible but cattle are the main and more frequent to be affected.
Clinical signs varies and are determined by the dicumarol content of the particular sweet clover variety being fed, age of the animals, and amount of feed consumed. If the dicumarol content of the ration is low, animals can eat it for months before signs of disease appear. Animals with sweet clovers disease sometimes don’t show symptoms until it because severe after eating the toxic hay for a while. However when symptoms start to arise stiffness, lameness are some of the first signs. These problems are due to hemorrhages in the joints and muscles. Most of the signs are internal like blood in the milk, anemia, increased heart rate and internal hemorrhaging. Usually if the infected animal get injured or has a surgical procedure done it dies from bleeding to death. There are few treatments for sweet clovers disease but administering injectable vitamin K1 is affective. Also in very severe cases administering a whole blood transfusion can resolve hemorrhaging and anemia that the animal might expression.
In conclusion you have a few way to protect your live stock from sweet clover disease. The first is removing sweet clover from the diet and replacing it with high quality forages. Also if you blend it with high quality forages it should help avoid the effect of dicoumarol. Some other methods are planting sweet clover with low coumarin, testing / curing sweet clover before bailing and feeding to your livestock.