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The rumen is an amazingly efficient organ for processing nutrients from vegetable sources, but its complexity makes digestion problems all the more dangerous. This means any digestive issues should be taken very seriously and acted on fast. Goat bloat can very quickly develop and become life threatening.
Belching, belly rumbling, and chewing the cud are signs of a healthy goat digestive system. Goats ferment vegetation inside the rumen through the action of various microbes (bacteria and protozoa). The process releases gas which goats expel through belching. While eating, food rapidly passes down from the mouth through the esophagus to the rumen. When the goat is at rest, cud passes back up to the mouth for more thorough chewing, before passing back down to the rumen for fermentation. If this cycle is interrupted, the goat can be in serious trouble. A buildup of gas that the goat cannot release causes bloat (ruminal tympany).
As it takes in feed, the rumen expands the left flank of the goat, filling a hollow in front of the hip called the paralumbar fossa. A round belly does not mean that a goat is fat or bloated—it is a healthy sign of good feed intake.
Goat Bloat Symptoms
Bloat extends the rumen high up in the left paralumbar fossa and gives a tight, drum-like feel and sound when tapped. The goat goes off food and may appear distressed, uncomfortable, or in pain. As the pressure builds, they may bleat, grind their teeth, stamp, salivate, urinate often, and walk awkwardly. If they fail to release the gas, pressure on the lungs makes it hard to breathe. You can help relieve the pressure by standing them with the front legs higher than the back.
Without relief, the goat may be reduced to lying down. Bloat can develop very quickly and cause death within hours.
Signs of Bloat in Goats
- lack of appetite
- abdomen inflation high on the left side
- pain/tense facial muscles
- grinding teeth
- kicking belly
- frequent urination
- stilted walk
- difficulty breathing
- lying down
Goat may show one or more of these symptoms increasingly as the condition progresses.
Choke and Free Gas Bloat
An obstruction in the throat or esophagus may prevent gas from escaping. This can occur when eating chunks of vegetable, like apple or carrot, or when other obstructions become stuck in the gullet. Abscesses, tumors, and inflammation can also obstruct the esophagus causing bloat. In this case, the pressure may eventually open the esophagus enough for some gas to pass through, resulting in a chronic case of periodic inflation and relief.
Eating of sand or inedible objects, such as plastic bags, cloth, and rope, or too much indigestible fiber, can occur where there is a lack of suitable forage. Impaction of these materials can block gas and result in bloat.
Goats that are lying on their side for a long time, possibly due to other sickness, or goats in an unusual position, such as stuck upside-down, will bloat as they are unable to belch gas in these positions. You will also find that all dead ruminants bloat after several hours, as the gut bacteria continue to release gas, but this does not mean that they necessarily died of bloat.
Treating Free Gas Bloat in Goats
If your goat is bloated, distressed, possibly even salivating, she may have a blockage. If you can see or feel a blockage at the back of her throat, you may be able to remove it with care. Similarly, if you see a bulge on the left of the neck, you can try to massage it down gently.
If you already have experience, you can pass a stomach tube down the esophagus. This will quickly relieve free gas bloat, if you can get past the blockage. The blockage may impede the tube, and it is important not to force its passage. If you are unable to relieve the gas this way, contact the veterinarian urgently. They may need to pierce the rumen with a trochar to release the gas. This is a last resort as complications can occur, such as infection and rumen dysfunction, and your goat will need veterinary after-care. Only ever attempt piercing the rumen if the goat cannot breathe and is on the point of death. If they survive, the goat still need veterinary care.
A more common form of bloat is the frothy kind. In this case overactive microbes produce a foamy slime that coats the gas and seals it in the rumen. This occurs when a goat eats a large amount of a rich food that she is unaccustomed to, for example: pasture rich in legumes (alfalfa, clovers), wet spring grass, grass cuttings, vegetable greens, cereals, and concentrates.
Goats’ natural feed is a wide variety of long-fiber vegetation, and they are naturally keen to consume any high-energy tidbits they would only find occasionally in the wild. When we give goats a quantity of rich food, they gobble it up, but the unusual amount disrupts the rumen balance as microbes rapidly ferment the high-carbohydrate source.
Treating Frothy Bloat in Goats
Passing a stomach tube will not free the gas, but it will allow you to introduce a product to break down the foam, enabling gas release. If the tube alone provides relief, the bloat was due to free gas. Otherwise, preferably introduce a specialized goat bloat medicine from your veterinarian, commonly poloxalene. If bloat is due to grain consumption, your veterinarian may provide an alcohol ethoxylate detergent as a more effective agent.
However, you need to act quickly, so if you do not have a veterinary product to hand, vegetable or mineral oil can be effective, although slower acting. Dose 100–200 cc via the tube. Do not use linseed oil as it causes indigestion. You can use oil of turpentine, but it will taint meat and milk for five days. As a last resort, 10 cc dishwashing liquid may help.
If you cannot use a tube, wait for someone who can. Using a drench without a tube risks product being breathed into the lungs and causing pneumonia. If this is your only option, take utmost care to avoid this risk.
Massage the rumen to circulate the dose throughout the rumen and encourage your goat to walk. As the foam breaks down, a stomach tube helps to release the gas.
Indigestion, Acidosis, and Other Complications
When goats rapidly consume large quantities of grain, acidosis occurs. This metabolic disorder has far reaching consequences and can lead to further complications, such as polioencephalomalacia, enterotoxemia, and founder (laminitis). Rapid bacterial fermentation of grain produces frothy bloat, but also changes rumen acidity encouraging other bacteria to multiply. The rumen has no time to adapt and, consequently, lactic acid floods into the entire system. In this case antacids are helpful in the early stages. Suggested amounts are 0.75–3 oz. (20 g to 1 g/kg body weight) baking soda (sodium bicarbonate), 0.35–0.7 oz. (10–20 g) magnesium oxide, or 1.8 oz. (50 g) magnesium hydroxide (milk of magnesia). But as the disorder progresses, urgent veterinary assistance is required to drain or even replace rumen contents. Your goat will need follow-up care to restore B vitamins and prevent infections and inflammation.
Mild cases of acidosis (indigestion) can occur when goats eat a little more grain than they should. They go off feed for a few days and the rumen may be less active. They may have pasty droppings and lactate less. As they stop eating, the rumen generally recovers in a few days. Grass hay and antacids may help.
Should I Supply Free-Choice Baking Soda for Goats?
A little baking soda may be helpful for indigestion, but goats should not have regular access to either soda or antacids. This practice is borrowed from commercial systems where unusually high quantities of grain are fed to improve production. This puts goats in a constant risk of low-level acidosis, which affects health and production. Soda is added regularly to buffer acid production, but balanced by nutritionists with other ingredients so as not to create a mineral imbalance.
Outside such a highly regulated environment, baking soda should be reserved for treating cases and not supplied for self-service. If goats have free-choice soda as well as a salt/mineral mix, they may ingest soda for sodium intake, while neglecting the salt mix that would provide other essential minerals.
Goat Bloat Prevention
Always better than cure is to ensure that your goats have a suitable diet and safe environment to avoid ingesting the wrong things. Goats’ diet should be at least 75% long-fiber forage, such as hay or pasture. Unless they are lactating, backyard goats shouldn’t need concentrates. If grain or concentrates are fed, use very small quantities of whole grains and avoid wheat, soft corn, ground grains, and bread. Similarly, fruit, vegetables, nuts, and other high-carb feeds should be fed in small quantities as treats and cut up small to avoid choke. If you wish to feed larger quantities, introduce the feed over a period of four weeks, gradually increasing the amount, and spread it over three or more portions per day.
Always have hay available to your goats. The best hay for goats contains a mixture of different grasses and forbs. Feed hay before concentrates and before turning out to fresh grass, alfalfa, or browsing crops. Goats unaccustomed to fresh spring pasture should have limited access to begin with. Pastures should include a wide variety of plants. If legumes are present, they must be interspersed with grass and weeds containing tannin. Goats produce their own bicarbonate in their saliva while chewing long-fiber forages, so their natural feed is the best for maintaining rumen health.
- Smith, M. C. and Sherman, D. M. 2009. Goat Medicine, Second Edition. Wiley-Blackwell
- Harwood, D. 2019. Veterinary Guide to Goat Health and Welfare. Crowood.
- Goat eXtension
- Estill, K. 2020. Rumen Disorders in Goats.
Originally published in the Goat Journal 2021 special subscriber issue — Goat Health, from Head to Hoof — and regularly vetted for accuracy.
How do you treat goat bloat fast to save goats? ›
Treating Frothy Bloat in Goats
If bloat is due to grain consumption, your veterinarian may provide an alcohol ethoxylate detergent as a more effective agent. However, you need to act quickly, so if you do not have a veterinary product to hand, vegetable or mineral oil can be effective, although slower acting.
Baking soda can be a useful addition to your goat's diet. It can aid in digestion issues and help to prevent bloat, a sometimes deadly condition caused by overeating or eating the wrong food.Can goats get rid of bloat on their own? ›
Bloat is the symptom that occurs when a ruminant animal cannot burp. The rumen produces a lot of gas from the fermentation of food, and goats (as well as all other ruminants) normally get rid of this gas by belching.Can you give goats Pepto Bismol for bloat? ›
Withhold all grain until the diarrhea subsides and provide supportive care — make sure that the goat stays hydrated with electrolytes (available at Tractor Supply). You can also give a small dose (about 1 ounce) of kaolin pectate (or Pepto Bismol — NO other antidiarrheals!) to help soothe the tummy.How much mineral oil do you give a goat for bloat? ›
For frothy bloat, drenching with poloxalene or mineral oil (100-200 cc) may help. DO NOT drench mineral oil without a stomach tube, or it will end up in the lungs. Walking the goat and massaging the flank may be of value.What are homemade probiotics for goats? ›
A popular recipe for homemade nutri-drench is one cup corn oil, one pint molasses, and one pint Karo (corn) syrup. The probiotics in yogurt and Kefir can help to restore a healthy gut and stimulate appetite.Can you give a goat too much baking soda? ›
I think goats have good instincts for this sort of thing (not so much when it comes to getting stuck in a fence or eating too many apples), and they will only eat as much as they need, but if you notice a goat eating an excessive amount of mineral or baking soda, remove it immediately and consult your vet!What plants cause bloat in goats? ›
Legumes, such as alfalfa, ladino clover, red clover, kura clover and white clover in the vegetative stage of growth have high soluble protein contents and are commonly the cause of frothy bloat in pasture situations.What are three ways in which an animal with bloat can be treated? ›
Treatment may involve antifoaming agents, emergency rumenotomy, or removal of an esophageal obstruction. Bloat can be a major cause of sudden death in feedlot cattle.Do goats need salt blocks? ›
Goats need salt. However, offering salt as the only mineral available to your herd won't meet all their needs. It's not uncommon in some pastures to see goats only receiving a salt block.
Is olive oil good for goat bloat? ›
There are a few products available designed to ease frothy bloat; however, we did not have any of them on hand. We did; however, have olive oil (most any food-grade oil will do). Oil helps to relieve frothy bloat by breaking down the foam trapping the gas which allows the gas to be released.How much Pepto Bismol do I give my goat? ›
SHEEP AND GOATS: 1/2 OZ (15ML) EVERY 4 HOURS. MAXIMUM 6 DOSES EVERY 24 HOURS. REPEAT AS NECESSARY, OR AS DIRECTED BY VETERINARIAN. DOGS: 1 TEASPOON (5ML) EVERY 4 HOURS.Can goats have Tums? ›
Offer a good loose mineral mix with 2:1 calcium:phosphorous at all times. Feed 5-6 Tums to the doe each day, starting two weeks before kidding and continuing after freshening.How do you treat a sick goat at home? ›
If you cannot get veterinary help you can give the animal a home treatment of rehydration fluid. To make rehydration fluid mix six teaspoons of sugar and half a teaspoon of salt with 1 litre of clean, warm water. Give this as a drench (500 ml for sheep or goats) four times a day for 3 days.What is the fastest way to relieve gas? ›
- Move. Walk around. ...
- Massage. Try gently massaging the painful spot.
- Yoga poses. Specific yoga poses can help your body relax to aid the passing of gas. ...
- Liquids. Drink noncarbonated liquids. ...
- Herbs. ...
- Bicarbonate of soda.
- Apple cider vinegar.
- Peppermint tea.
- Chamomile tea.
Peppermint Those peppermint candies at the diner are more than just breath fresheners: They can help relax the muscles in your esophagus, which helps you pass digestive gases. If candy's not your thing, peppermint tea offers the same assist. Anise, fennel, ginger, cloves and chamomile also may offer relief.How much liquid b12 do you give a goat? ›
Recommended dosage is 10-20 cc. Mix with feed or give orally with a dosing syringe.What is the most important mineral for goats? ›
Supplementing with a mineral high in calcium can help prepare goats for increased nutrient and energy needs to support overall health. Providing a quality goat mineral can help, but so can another key ingredient: fat. Fat provides energy and helps optimize body condition to support goat reproduction.Does mineral oil help with bloat? ›
A pint of vegetable oil, mineral oil or ¼ cup of mild detergent given as a drench is often effective. It is preferable to administer these via a stomach tube, but drenching may work. 2.
What does vinegar do to goats? ›
helps strengthen the immune system, improves digestion, and balances internal pH. When added to water, it helps keep the water fresh.What is a home remedy probiotic? ›
Yogurt is one of the best sources of probiotics. Other sources of probiotics include sauerkraut, miso, tempeh, and more. Probiotics are live microorganisms that have health benefits when consumed ( 1 ).Can Apple cider vinegar replace probiotics? ›
That is the “mother,” a colony of yeast and bacteria that have worked hard to bring you the product you have in your hand. But ACV doesn't contain enough live bacteria to really qualify as a probiotic supplement.How much apple cider vinegar for goats? ›
General rule of thumb: 1 oz daily per 250# body weight. Sheep 1/2-1 oz/day, Offer free-choice 50:50 mix with water. Goats 12-1 oz/day. Offer free-choice 50:50 mix with water.What is the fastest way to rehydrate a goat? ›
A 100-pound goat needs a gallon of liquid given in small amounts over 24 hours to maintain hydration. One gallon is 3,840 cc's. The only reasonable delivery method of this much liquid over 24 hours is a stomach tube.What is poisonous to goats? ›
Some examples of poisonous plants include azaleas, China berries, sumac, dog fennel, bracken fern, curly dock, eastern baccharis, honeysuckle, nightshade, pokeweed, red root pigweed, black cherry, Virginia creeper, and crotalaria.What could be done to avoid bloat in goats and sheep? ›
Keep fiber intake up if animals are on pastures with bloat potential. Feed grass hay first thing in the morning so animals are mostly full before going out to pasture. Hay should equal one-third of diet to reduce bloat.
Free-gas bloat can usually be relieved by inserting a 3/4" rubber hose into the rumen via the esophagus. If "hosing" does not give immediate relief, a defoaming agent (poloxalene) should be administered through the hose to break the surface tension of the ingesta. A pint of mineral oil is also a defoamer.How can bloat be controlled? ›
When pasture is considered risky, bloat prevention options include the following: Restrict pasture intake by limiting grazing time or implementing strip-grazing. Fill animals on hay before turning onto pasture. Spray the pasture daily with pasture oil (see Tables 1 and 2).What causes bloat how can it be prevented? ›
Bloating is a common condition caused by a wide range of dietary, lifestyle, and health factors. Maintaining a healthy diet and weight, promoting good bowel habits, and getting regular exercise may help reduce symptoms. If bloating is caused by specific foods in your diet, avoiding or eliminating these foods can help.
What is natural calcium for goats? ›
In browsing or grain-fed goats, the addition of a calcium supplement (dicalcium phosphate, limestone, etc) to the feed or to a salt or trace mineral–salt mixture usually meets calcium requirements. Legumes (eg, clover, alfalfa, kudzu) are also good sources of calcium.Do goats need grain everyday? ›
Grain – (0-10% of their diet) – Goats don't need grain to survive, in fact, they can live happily on pasture or hay, or a combination of both. When they are pregnant or lactating, grains can help provide extra vitamins & minerals, as well as 12-16% extra protein.Is a mineral block better than loose for goats? ›
You Should Only Feed Loose Goat Minerals
But goats' tongues are actually pretty soft, and they can't lick enough of a block to get what they need. What is this? When feeding your goats minerals, they should be in LOOSE form. Loose minerals are easy for your goats to lick up and get exactly the amount they need.
Peppermint oil is a type of medicine called an antispasmodic. It helps relieve stomach cramps, bloating and farting (flatulence), particularly if you have irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). It works by helping the muscle of the bowel wall to relax. Peppermint oil comes as capsules.What essential oils help with bloating? ›
Though there's not much science linking essential oils to de-puffing, Upton says there is some evidence that ginger, peppermint, and chamomile can be good for your digestive tract. She adds that essential oils made of these herbs may be beneficial, too.Does Pepto-Bismol help goats? ›
A variety of oral antidiarrheal medications have been used in sheep and goats. They may be helpful, but no trials have ever been reported. Pepto-Bismol (Bismuth Subsalicylate, Bismusal) is commonly used to treat livestock with diarrhea.How do you treat a goats running stomach? ›
“Offer electrolytes in addition to the goat's normal milk diet.” Offer electrolytes one to three times a day. Continue to feed them for two to three days until scours have stopped and hydration is normal, or as directed by your veterinarian. Remember to offer plenty of clean, fresh water.Can you use too much Pepto-Bismol? ›
What happens if I overdose on Pepto-Bismol (Bismuth Subsalicylate)? Overdose symptoms may include weakness, depression, anxiety, feeling irritable, problems with balance or coordination, confusion, tremors, or jerky muscle movements.What are the signs of calcium deficiency in goats? ›
The main deficiency symptoms are seen in the skeletal system. Bones can become soft and weak and may be deformed, resulting in lameness. This condition is called rickets, or osteomalacia.What electrolytes can I give my goat? ›
- 2 teaspoons baking soda.
- 2 teaspoon salt (we use fine sea salt)
- ½ cup molasses or raw honey.
- 4 quarts of warm water.
Are bananas good for goats? ›
Banana and apple are great fruit options that most goats love, and they provide a good way of administering medication as well!How do you treat a sick goat? ›
A sick goat, or one needing immediate attention, can be fed a bolus of the dried herb or herb powder mixed with molasses or honey, or a strong decoction used as a drench. The intelligent goat breeder is only limited by ability and creativity in getting these herbs into the goats.How long can a goat live with bloat? ›
Without relief, the goat may be reduced to lying down. Bloat can develop very quickly and cause death within hours.What is the best medicine for goat? ›
|Fenbendazole||Panacur 10% Suspension||Goats|
|Fenbendazole||Safe-Guard Type A 20%||Goats|
You can try dripping or rubbing some colostrum, vitamin solution, corn syrup, or even coffee on its tongue and gums to help give it a little energy boost. A weak baby goat may benefit from a thiamine injection.How do you save a poisoned goat? ›
- pull out anything remaining in its mouth;
- call your vet urgently as they will have supportive medications, and may administer fluids;
- move the animal to a warm, dry area (don't leave it in the sun);
- keep it walking quietly around if possible;
Electrolytes in liquid form (ReSorb) should be provided. If ReSorb or similar product is not available, Pedialyte or Gatorade can be substituted until livestock electrolytes can be obtained. Offer loose minerals free-choice, though the goat likely will not eat them right away.Should I put apple cider vinegar in my goats water? ›
Apple cider can be added to the Goat Water daily as it enhances the alkaline levels of the gut, making it unwelcoming for parasites. Adding a tablespoon of organic ACV per gallon of water each day will improve the hair coat state along with several other health advantages.What is a natural antibiotic for goats? ›
Garlic, echinacea, and ginger, given frequently is the best treatment.What is a homemade probiotic for goats? ›
A popular recipe for homemade nutri-drench is one cup corn oil, one pint molasses, and one pint Karo (corn) syrup. The probiotics in yogurt and Kefir can help to restore a healthy gut and stimulate appetite.
What home remedy can I give my sick goat? ›
If you cannot get veterinary help you can give the animal a home treatment of rehydration fluid. To make rehydration fluid mix six teaspoons of sugar and half a teaspoon of salt with 1 litre of clean, warm water. Give this as a drench (500 ml for sheep or goats) four times a day for 3 days.What does garlic do for goats? ›
Garlic for goats has a beneficial effect on the general health of animals. It is also excellent in the natural fight against parasites. Garlic is said to contain more than 25 substances that kill disease germs and therefore contributes to improved immune function, especially desirable in the winter months.How do you take care of a goat in your backyard? ›
Your goat needs access to fresh water at all times. Use a heavy watering container, as goats can turn them over. You should check the water at least twice a day, more during extreme temperatures. During winter, you may need to provide water throughout the day if the temperature drops below freezing.How do I get my goats rumen to work again? ›
Drench goat with something alkaline such as 2-3 ounces of sodium bicarbonate, which will help neutralize acid as there is a tendency for acidic conditions to develop in the rumen. To do this, ask a veterinarian to mix 25g of sodium bicarbonate in a saltwater solution and offer it to the animal.What is the number one killer of goats? ›
Coyotes accounted for 52,830 goat deaths, or 43.1% of total predator losses.What kills goats fast? ›
- Plants That Are Toxic To Goats.
- Other Potential Goat Toxins. Blue-Green Algae. Cantharidiasis (Blister Beetle Poisoning) Copper. Grain Overload (Acidosis, Grain Poisoning) Hardware Disease. Lead Toxicity. Mycotoxins. Pesticides, Herbicides, And Rodenticides. Selenium. Snakebites. Wood Stains And Paints.
Most common symptoms include the gums turning bright red, weakness, staggering when walking, seizures, and difficulty breathing followed by respiratory failure. As browsers, goats do a good job of avoiding toxic plants or if they do eat them, only eating a small amount.