What Are the Causes of Goat Bloat?

Two goats on a hobby farm looking at the camera. Did you know goats experience gas bloat just like humans? Goats are "ruminants," which are herbivore mammals who get their nutrients from plants through a unique fermentation process. Essentially, they regurgitate and chew again, resulting in goat bloat because this process produces a lot of gas. What you feed your goat matters, so New Heritage Feed Co. makes a 16% goat ration pellet animal food. This animal food has ingredients that include ground corn, oats, alfalfa, soybeans, and other natural ingredients goats love. It is possible that despite your greatest efforts, your goats experience bloat. This article will discuss the causes and treatment of goat bloat. If you know how it can happen, you will be better able to respond if it occurs.

What Contributes to Goat Bloat

A black and white goat tied up on a hobby farm. When an animal cannot burp, goat bloat happens. First, let's look a bit at the anatomy of a goat's stomach. Goats have a rumen, which is the first part of the stomach where most of the food is collected. From the rumen, food returns to the mouth as "cud." The goat continues chewing cud to absorb more nutrients. The problem is the rumen produces a lot of gas. Now, when there's a blockage that prevents gas release, goat bloat occurs. You may even notice a bulge on the left side of the animal where gas accumulates. Two factors come into play that cause goat bloat.

Obstruction of the Esophagus

Sometimes the goat can swallow something too large, so it causes an obstruction. If this happens, you may be able to feel the blockage in the goat's throat. Veterinarians advise caution with trying to assist the block on your own manually. You can try to gently, manually move the obstruction down towards the stomach. Never push forcefully or use a physical object that may harm the goat. Seek veterinarian help if the goat shows signs of pain or distress.

Eating the Wrong Food

The second cause of goat bloat is the food they are eating. If goats eat too heavy animal food made of carbohydrates or if their diet is changed too quickly, it may impact digestion. Even weeds and other plants they forage can contribute if they have a high starch level. The result of eating this type of animal food is a decrease of good microbes in the gut and an increase of harmful microbes. Eventually, the bad microbes can produce a "foam," which causes a block in the esophagus. Gas cannot escape through the block, so the goat experiences bloat symptoms. It is important to note that goats experience bloat less frequently than other farm animals. However, farmers must take it seriously if the goat is in distress.

What Are The Types of Goat Bloat

Three goats in a field. There are three different types of bloat that occur:
  • Frothy Bloat: Caused from overeating where foam forms in the rumen due to gas bubbles. The goat cannot emit the foam. It can be the most dangerous, leading to respiratory distress.
  • Dry Bloat: Caused from indigestion after eating. Gas forms in pockets and gets trapped in the rumen. As it accumulates, it becomes difficult for the goat to belch.
  • Choke: The result of something blocking the esophagus.

Are There Signs of Goal Bloat?

A farmer checking a goat's teeth for signs of goat bloat or discomfort. There are some symptoms to look out for that indicate the goat is bloated. The goat may be restless, have a loss of appetite, or increased salivation. As mentioned, there may be a bulge on the left side, and it can sound like a drum if tapped. Another symptom is the goat can start grinding its teeth. Teeth grinding is a sign of pain, along with lying down and hiding. The goat can show signs of discomfort, such as increased aggression. The goat may kick or bite at their stomach, indicating pain. If they become too distressed, it can affect their breathing, causing them to collapse and possibly die.

What Can You Do For Prevention

A small goat grazing on a backyard farm. To prevent goat bloat, only allow goats to feed on greens for short periods. Introduce foods slowly so their bodies can adapt. It can help if they are fed hay before they feed on plants. Goats can choke on grains, so spread it out in small amounts if you choose to give a grain animal food. Also, never feed goats finely concentrated animal food. Don't forget to give your goats an adequate water supply as it will also help them with proper digestion.

Can You Treat Goat Bloat

If you think your goat is experiencing bloat, it is smart to contact your veterinarian. Interventions can depend on the type of bloat. Some farmers try a home remedy of mineral oil or baking soda, but this can be dangerous because the block can cause it to re-route to the lungs. Veterinarians can recommend better options that can assist your goat with digestion. If it is a serious blockage, the goat may need a stomach tube to free the gas. When this is not successful or life-threatening, surgery may be necessary. If the bloating is minimal, walking the goat can be helpful. If you are comfortable, you can also try gently massaging the abdomen to release the obstruction.

What Is The Benefit of a Goat Feed

Feeding your goats a safe, natural goat animal food along with the proper amount of forage will help keep their digestive system on track. You can provide our 16% complete goat ration pellets daily by following our recommendations based on weight and milk production. New Heritage Feed Co. develops their animal food based on science. It is created with the safety and health of the goat in mind. If you are looking for more information, we have a wealth of information on our site. We are happy to partner with you to raise healthy and happy animals.