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Doc Fleming
E-mail: Goodnewsdoc@aol.com
Web Site: Boer Wild Farm
Jay, Florida, USA
"Specializing in African Boer Goat Pets and Goat Rescues"

Bloat
by
Doc Fleming

There are generally two types of bloat
Dry bloat is the accumulation of excess free gas in the rumen often caused by overeating of grain.
Frothy (or foamy) bloat is where the contents of the rumen emulsify, becoming foamy with the consistency of whipped egg whites. Gas is trapped in the foam. This form of bloat can be caused by over-consumption of lush pasture or rich legume hay.

The "signs" of bloat are:
  1. Rumen extended and tight (the rumen -- the first stomach which is involved in the cud regurgitation and storage processes -- is located on the left side of the goat's abdomen)
  2. Off feed
  3. Standing around
  4. Head down
  5. Depressed looking
  6. Not belching -- if you'll listen, goats belch quite a bit
  7. Not chewing cud
  8. Normal rumen sounds absent (gurgling gastric sounds)
  9. Grinding teeth
Late stages of bloat signs:
  1. Goat in extreme distress
  2. Loud crying
  3. Gasping for Air
  4. Darkened (blue) tongue
  5. Goat is down
Why does bloat kill and kill quickly?

The rumen expands to the point that it compresses the abdominal blood vessels, heart, and lungs. The rumen is like a fermentation vat -- it naturally produces gas -- too much gas produced too quickly can compress the esophagus preventing normal belching. Death typically occurs from respiratory failure.

What treatments are appropriate for bloat?

In the early stages, massaging, walking, drenching with mineral oil (1 to 2 cups), and removal of grain feeds may avert disaster.

In the late stages, the use of a stomach tube, proloxalene, and massaging to help reduce gas.

In the desperate stages, puncturing the rumen through the skin in the center of the usually hollowed out area 3 to 5 inches behind the last rib (depending on the goat). The instrument used is called a trocar which accomplishes the puncture and allows for gas to escape. This is a last hope medical procedure when all else has failed. I've never done this one, but my vet did it on one of my kids last year. Unfortunately, she died a few moments after the puncture. In the absence of a trocar, a sharp instrument can be used and a tube inserted -- puncturing the hide and rumen is harder than you'd think.

In some of the material I've read, goats who've had their rumens punctured have a high risk of infection and may never fully recover to what we'd consider a "thrifty and productive" status in the herd.

(It would seem logical that) an animal who's had a very high fever (and/or is treated with antibiotics) is more susceptible to bloat due to the loss of healthy bacteria in their rumen. That's why we always use something like Probios following fevers or the administration of strong antibiotics. Probios is a healthy paste of "good" bacteria and other ingredients that help stabilize the digestive process.

Disclaimer: Having written this, I want to make sure that the readers know that I am a minister, not a vet. When in doubt, call your vet. While experience is a great teacher, I am certainly no expert.

Doc

 

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