It was a glorious spring-like weekend…a perfect Mother’s Day! The weeping cherry and serviceberry are beginning to bloom, finally! It’s been a cold, wet/rainy spring ~ so far ~ here, in southeast Michigan. I’m thinking we’ll skip ‘spring’ and fast forward to summer! We cut the grass for the first time this past weekend too and hubby & son worked on installing additional lighting in the barn. Yeah! The north facing stalls have no windows and is incredibly dark…
Aside from ‘MOM’ visits, cooking, baking… I believe we had our first encounter with a case of bloat in one of our goats! Read more about bloat here.
The goat is a member of a class of animals called ruminants. These animals ruminate (chew their cud). Unlike us, they have special four-compartment stomachs especially designed to digest roughage (food high in fiber) such as grass, hay and silage. The goat’s stomach has four chambers: 1) the rumen, 2) the honey-combed reticulum, 3) the omasum, and 4) the abomasum or true stomach.
A goat’s rumen is a big fermentation vat which produces carbon dioxide and methane gas. These gasses are eliminated by the goat burping and pooping. A goat needs to expel their gas, no matter how rude or funny you may think it may be. If they cannot expel the gas, the pressure builds up and the goat ‘bloats’. When this happens, the left side of the goat will become distended which might even cause difficulty in breathing. Bloat, in extreme cases, can result in death! Naturally, I was concerned ~ and wise enough to recognize something was ‘off’?
When you spend as much time as I do with each of my critters, you just know when something is amiss…call it woman’s intuition? Corey, a first freshener, looked like she swallowed a small ‘football’ on her left side (where the rumen is located). Noticeably different from what’s considered normal! She didn’t get into the grain bin, nor do I believe she ate too much green pasture/grass. Rather, I think we were ramping her up her grain – too much too soon – for her to handle since freshening/kidding three weeks ago. And, perhaps another contributing factor to the gas build-up(?) is the fact that Corey doesn’t seem to be eating as much hay/roughage as she should be or has been eating.
Fast forward…while Corey didn’t exhibit any signs of pain, discomfort, abnormal behavior, pawing, etc. none of the ‘usual’ accompanying signs of bloat. I just knew something was simply not ‘normal’. Still concerned (not waiting for her condition to worsen???), a bit of research on the web and goat books, we decided to administer a dose of milk of magnesia, walked her up and down a small hillside, massaged her left side, all hopefully helping her to belch and pass ‘wind’…to relieve the gas build-up. It seemed to be working and provided some relief. She was pooping lots and belching. But, by evening, the bulge seemed to reappear. So, we decided to take another path and administered/drench about 6 oz. of corn oil and withhold all grain! We also gave her some probiotics…and access to good quality hay.
This morning, Corey ‘appears’ better, but I’m still watching her closely. I’m giving her a full body massage (with a palm massage thingy) ~ hoping to move the contents of the rumen along/breaking up gas ~ OR simply adding to the daily routine of lots of TLC, brushing, grooming, udder massage w/peppermint eo… my goats are well-loved! And, Corey l-o-v-e-s the attention!
Any advice/experience with ‘bloat’ is appreciated!
Oh ya, last evening, Reese, first time ‘mom’, gave me twin ewe lambs…just to complete my Mother’s Day excitement! Lambing without incident!! woohoo!
Hours old…they’re so difficult to photograph!!!
Sweet Shetland ewe lambs!
Congrats Reese! Great job!
Look at those beautiful babies! Hope Corey is feeling better!
Corey is much better.thanks! I’m not sure she had ‘bloat’, but I didn’t want to wait until it was too late. I backed her off her grain ration, forcing her to eat more hay, and then gradually increased grain. Silly girl!