Is Clover Bad For Cows (2024)

To what extent does clover affect cattle? You might be curious if your cow can eat clover. You can hear two sides to the story, a few reasons why can’t cows eat clover and as many reasons why cows can eat this opportunistic plant in the pasture without issue.

So, when raising cows, how much clover you can feed them, or how much grazing forage can they consume without problems? Clover is a short-lived herb, and the inexpensive crop is excellent for immature pastures as it improves the health of the soil.

There are several positives and cons to feeding cows clover. However, the consensus is that moderate amounts of clover are safe for cows to eat. Professionals suggest feeding beef cattle or dairy cows clover in doses rather than a substantial feeding session in clover-filled cattle pastures.

The best strategy is switching feed every few weeks, as cows need time to get accustomed to a new type of feed. Common clover, such as red clover and white clover, can deliver your cattle high-quality protein at an affordable price.

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In our guide, you can learn more about what can clover kill cattle and in what circ*mstances it could do this. By the end, you’ll see how cows eating this member of the legume family could have ill effects in certain conditions. (Read When Do Easter Eggers Start Laying)

Is Red Clover Healthy For Beef Cattle?

You can hear (genus Trifolium, pink Alsike Clover, and Buffalo clover) cattle don’t mix. Red clovers, however, can an excellent feed to replace synthetic bactericides used in cattle feed.

Can cows eat clover, they can doing so lessens the amount of hyper-ammonia-producing bacteria, which impacts food protein cattle may absorb. Isoflavones, which are present in clover, enhance the quality and quantity of protein supplied to cows.

When cattle consume isoflavones, these substances offer protection from threats like fescue toxicosis. In cattle and other livestock animals, fescue toxicosis results in constricted blood vessels, weight loss, decreased milk production, and reduced numbers of pregnant cows or issues with reproduction.

What Does Clover Do to Cattle?

However, a cow-eating clover has some drawbacks. Hay containing wet clover may cause mold, which prevents the synthesis of vitamin K. All mammals, including humans, can develop fatal internal bleeding from this vitamin deficiency. In addition to posing a risk to cows, moldy sweet clover hay can cause bloat and mold.

Farmers should avoid feeding hay bales with added clover. The reason here is if the clover isn’t dry, it can cause mold, and spoiled hay can be harmful.

You often find this in tight dense bales that can’t breathe properly.

To ensure the well-being of their animals, cattle must periodically be rotated through clover fields. Additionally, clover can cause cattle with sweet clover sickness and poison them with sweet clover. When hay is not adequately cured, this is a problem. (Learn How Many Cows Am I Worth)

This may cause cows to bleed to death. Blood clots, stiffness, or lameness, among other symptoms, are present.

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What is Pasture Bloat?

Cattle grazing on pastures containing more than 50% may develop pasture bloat, a digestive disorder. Bloating from pasture occurs when the cow’s rumen becomes gassy.

When you feed hay with a high clover content, it creates lots of foam, making it possible for cattle to release gas, where they can develop metabolic disorders.

Is Clover Bad for Cows?

The effects of clovers on cattle vary according to the type of clover.

Red and Crimson Clover

Red and Crimson clover has been found to have a low likelihood to promote bloat, but white clover has been found to have a moderately high probability of doing so.

  • Isoflavones, phytoestrogens with anti-estrogen properties and in red clover, impact cattle’s ability to reproduce.
  • Because it contains a significant amount of indigestible fiber, crimson clover is linked to bloating.


Here are some of the most effective treatments.

  1. Legumes should not be grazed on when there is a higher risk.
  2. Feeding your animal a high-risk diet can be prevented by changing its diet.
  3. When the cattle are hungry, don’t let them graze in hay fields full of immature legumes.
  4. You can attempt a trocar or cannula if the stomach tube is ineffective.

Yellow & Sweet Clover

Sweet clover disease comes from sedges, grasses, legumes, and rangeland or pasture. Despite this, the unfavorable chemical Coumarin is present in the common forage legume clover.

It is not dangerous in and of itself unless the plant is sick or hurt. Dicoumarol is created when there are several molds present in coumarin. When cattle eat moldy sweet clover hay, the dicoumarol inhibits the synthesis of vitamin K.

Sweet clover has a significant amount of a chemical that can be converted into an anticoagulant. Hay can be treated appropriately to prevent sweet clover poisoning and disease. The symptoms include stiffness, irritability, edema, and pale gums that are visible beneath the skin and around the hips, neck, and brisket. Blood dripping from the nose or visible in the pee and feces are further symptoms. (Read Can Cows Eat Bananas)

White Clover

Persian and white clover is one of the legumes with the highest likelihood of bloat. Farmers report significant numbers of cattle deaths as a result of pasture bloat. When left untreated, the symptoms pasture bloat show a dangerous stomach condition cause cattle to pass away three to four hours after they first appear.

Feeding Clover Management

It’s crucial to control the dangers of bloat caused by sweet clover. Dicoumarol is present and causes concern during wetter hay seasons; it does not disappear over time.

However, the economic benefits of feeding clover in pastures cannot be overlooked. Though feeding cows sweet clover has a long risk of bloat, doing so can ultimately save farmers money.

Keep in mind that sweet clover includes coumarin, which turns into dicoumarol in the presence of mold. Dicoumarol interferes with vitamin K, which is necessary for blood coagulation if it is consumed by cows. Therefore, K inhibition can cause your animal’s death.

While some farmers are concerned about animal bloat, it is uncommon when clovers make up less than 50% of the dry feed. A flexible plant, sweet clover gains from a good environment for growth. So, if managed and treated, it might be a sufficient supply of nourishment and safe forage.

Another effective technique is rotating the feed. As an illustration, you could feed your animals hay and sweet clover for 15 days, followed by 15 days of safe foraging. Re-rotate this after that to lower the risk.

Feeding Clover to Cows

It is crucial to take into account what clover does to cattle. You must be aware of the drawbacks and dangers that could keep while cattle graze on pastures with clover, regardless of whether you are growing beef cattle or cows for milk production, etc.

It becomes riskier the more legumes there are. A tainted clover in cattle hay can be deadly to animals. Its impacts include photosensitization, pasture bloat, and decreased vitamin K production.

Finally, feeding clover to cattle can have a variety of advantages. It offers nutrition and can help farmers save money on feed and a healthy diet.

If you carefully feed cows, clover can be a fantastic source of nutrition. Consider protein tubs for cattle if you are growing beef cattle since they can aid in replacing nutrients when the quality of the forage deteriorates.

Sweet Clover Poisoning

Here you can find out what does clover do to cattle. The consumption of sweet clover hay or ensilage containing dicoumarol results in mouldy sweet clover poisoning in cattle. Severe blood loss following injury and widespread hemorrhages into body tissues are characteristics of poisoning.

A typical mold in sweet clover transforms coumarol, a naturally occurring component of many sweet clover cultivars, into dicoumarol. Not all sweet clover contains Dicoumarol, and the level of rotting does not necessarily correspond to the level of toxicity in feed. The amount of coumarol and possible toxicity of different sweet clover varieties varies.

Cattle of all ages are vulnerable. Compared to mature cows, yearlings and calves are more susceptible. Clinical symptoms are caused by bleeding. Preliminary symptoms include stiffness, lameness, dullness, and swellings under the skin (hematomas or blood clotting), mainly over the hips, brisket, and neck.

Due to internal bleeding, newborn calves frequently grow feeble during their first few days. To avoid severe poisoning, it is possible to alternate roughage like alfalfa or grass-legume hay or Berseem clover combinations with sweet clover hay thought to contain dicoumarol.

Even though bleeding durations are still protracted, most poisoning cases can be avoided by first consuming sweet clover hay for seven to ten days, then switching to a different hay blend for an equal amount of time. (Read Can Cows Eat Grapes)

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Can Cows Eat Clover Forage – FAQs

In comparison to conventional turfgrass, it has many benefits. What about cows, though, who graze on clover? We put together a list of similar questions because our homesteading friends frequently have them. We hope they’ll be helpful to you.

Can Cows Eat Clover?

Cows may get all the nutrients they need from clover, including protein, fiber, and minerals like calcium and phosphorus. However, it is essential that you don’t let your cows graze on clover for an extended period of time or give them moldy or ruined clover hay, as these can contain toxins.

Strip grazing in the pasture can be a great solution to limiting what they eat.

Which Clover Is Best for Cattle?

Because it contains a lot of proteins and minerals, red clover is a preferred choice for cattle. Another choice is white clover. White clover is renowned for its tolerance of shade and intense grazing.

Is Clover Poisonous to Cattle?

A type of legume called clover is frequently fed to cattle. Although clover is generally considered safe, there have been isolated reports of sick cattle. This is typically caused by bloat from overeating clover or by eating damaged or moldy hay.

What Kind of Clover Will Kill Cattle?

Grazing cattle should not be allowed access to sweet clover since it can poison the animals or make them bloat. Consuming damp hay made from sweet clover puts cows in serious peril.

How Much Clover Is Safe for Cows to Eat?

Forage for cows that are regarded as suitable is clover. However, there is such a thing as having too much sound. Cows may experience bloat if they consume an excessive amount of clover fodder.

Because of the fermentation of clover in the cow’s stomach, this condition occurs. Additionally, it may cause critical health issues. When it’s severe, bloat can be fatal.

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Is Clover Bad For Cows (5)

Tim Graham

With over 20 years of hands-on gardening and landscape design experience, Tim Graham, the founder of, is dedicated to sharing expert advice and fostering a vibrant community for garden enthusiasts. His award-winning designs and sustainable practices reflect a deep-rooted passion and expertise in horticulture. Connect and cultivate your green thumb with Tim!

As an expert in agriculture and livestock management, I bring a wealth of knowledge and practical experience to the discussion on the impact of clover on cattle. With over two decades of hands-on experience in gardening, landscape design, and a focus on sustainable practices, I've gained valuable insights into the nuanced relationship between clover and cattle.

The article explores the multifaceted aspects of feeding clover to cattle, addressing both the positive and negative effects of this opportunistic plant. Let's delve into the key concepts discussed in the article:

1. Benefits of Feeding Clover to Cattle:

  • Protein Quality: Red clover, in particular, is highlighted for providing high-quality protein through isoflavones, which enhance the quantity and quality of protein supplied to cattle.
  • Replacement for Synthetic Bactericides: Red clovers can be an excellent feed replacement for synthetic bactericides in cattle feed, reducing the amount of hyper-ammonia-producing bacteria.

2. Drawbacks and Dangers:

  • Mold and Vitamin K Deficiency: Wet clover in hay can lead to mold, preventing the synthesis of vitamin K. Vitamin K deficiency can cause fatal internal bleeding in cattle and other mammals.
  • Bloat and Mold Risk: Clover, if not adequately cured, can cause bloat and mold in cattle. Moldy sweet clover hay poses a risk to both the health and life of the animals.

3. Types of Clover and Their Effects:

  • Red and Crimson Clover: Considered to have a low likelihood of promoting bloat. Isoflavones in red clover can protect cattle from threats like fescue toxicosis.
  • White Clover: Has a moderately high probability of causing bloat, making it one of the legumes with the highest likelihood of this digestive disorder.

4. Clover-Related Conditions:

  • Pasture Bloat: Cattle grazing on pastures with over 50% clover content may develop pasture bloat, a digestive disorder caused by excessive gas production in the rumen.

5. Sweet Clover Poisoning:

  • Dicoumarol and Vitamin K Inhibition: Moldy sweet clover hay containing dicoumarol can inhibit vitamin K synthesis, leading to severe blood loss and widespread hemorrhages in cattle.

6. Management and Prevention:

  • Rotation and Treatment: Rotating cattle through clover fields, changing their diet, and using treatments like trocar or cannula are recommended strategies to manage and prevent adverse effects.

7. FAQs about Clover and Cattle:

  • Clover Safety: Cattle can eat clover, but precautions must be taken to avoid overconsumption, mold, and toxic conditions.
  • Preferred Clover Types: Red clover is favored for its protein and mineral content, while white clover is known for shade tolerance and intense grazing.

8. Expert Advice on Feeding Clover:

  • Balancing Risks and Benefits: Despite the risks, the economic benefits of feeding clover in pastures are acknowledged, and careful management can make it a valuable source of nutrition for cattle.

In conclusion, understanding the dynamics of feeding clover to cattle involves a nuanced approach, balancing the nutritional benefits with the potential risks and implementing effective management strategies to ensure the well-being of the livestock.

Is Clover Bad For Cows (2024)


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