Simple Indigestion

Simple indigestion, also known as a form of acidosis, is the failure of normal rumen movement. Rumen motility slows but does not stop. It is associated with high intake of concentrated feed. Since the goat stops eating for one or two days, the rumen reaches a neutral pH level and recovery will follow.

Clinical Signs: The goat will go off food, become slightly dull, depressed, hang the head or separate from the herd. Severe overeating is accompanied by systemic and often fatal acidosis. Rumen motility ceases and the contents become firm; mild bloat, or swelling on the left flank, may be present. Constipation may be followed by diarrhea, muscle tremors, groaning, drunken behavior, increased heart and respiratory rates and fever. This is a life-threatening condition.

The animals will grind their teeth as a response to pain or discomfort. Milk production will decrease and diarrhea may develop. They will generally recover within two days. Severe cases may be fatal within 24 hours. Enterotoxemia may have similar symptoms upon onset but progresses more rapidly.

In dairy goats in early lactation, the advanced stages of rumen acidosis may mimic toxic mastitis or milk fever. Animals that are down with milk fever will not be dehydrated or have diarrhea and will respond to the administration of calcium salts.

Treatment: Treatment includes stopping access to food. Remove all concentrate feed. Increase consumption of fiber such as grass hay — not alfalfa — and give moderate amounts of water. Avoid free access to water as it will promote bloating due to the hyperosmolality in rumen. Vitamin B complex may be given for stimulating thiamine-producing bacteria. 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. Alternate treatment for neutralization of acid is magnesium hydroxide or magnesium oxide.

Walk the goat if possible. Medicate with antibiotics to restrict enterotoxemia. Thiamin intervention is recommended as polioencephalomalacia is a potential sequelae.

Control: Control consists of gradual introduction of grain to goats. If goats are being fed a high concentrate diet, distribute grain over three or more meals per day, at 2-3 pounds per day. Feed whole corn instead of finely ground grain and dry grain instead of wet. Feed roughage before grain, first thing in the morning. Supplement with bicarbonate of soda or calcium carbonate and magnesium.

If goat is showing signs of clinical disease, a veterinarian should be called to administer proper treatment.