Goat Bloat

Bloat is less common in goats than cattle and sheep. Another name for this condition is ruminal tympany. If not treated, it can be life threatening. The two types of bloat are frothy bloat and free gas bloat. All goats with a mature functional rumen are at risk. Conditions that may lead to frothy bloat include consumpiton of lush legumes such as clover or alfalfa, either in green feeds or as new hay; recent turnout to legume pastures, and wet grass pastures. Sudden access to grain can also lead to frothy bloat. Free gas bloat occurs when there is blockage in the esophagus, often due to grain, apples or carrots.

Signs: Signs of bloat include restlessness, abdominal discomfort, loss of appetite, and increased salivation. The stomach becomes progressively distended on the left side. The goat may bite and or kick at the abdominal region, followed by increased discomfort, respiratory distress, collapse and death.

Treatment: Treatment includes careful passage of a stomach tube; this should be curative in the case of free gas bloat. If the obstruction cannot be corrected with a stomach tube and free gas bloat continues to develop and threaten the goat’s life, a veterinarian may need to trocharize the rumen. 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. Determine the cause of the frothy bloat and address it.

Prevention: Control measures include introducing goats to lush pasture gradually and for short periods. Feed hay prior to pasture or concentrates. Avoid feeding finely-ground concentrates. If aggressive goats bolt grain, spread it out over a large area to reduce the risk of grain choke.

Reference: Mary C. Smith & David M. Sherman : Goat Medicine