Goat Bloat

Goat Bloat in Pygmy and Nigerian goats

Let me say, Pygmy goats should look “fat”.   A goat’s rumen (stomach area) is a big fermentation vat.  The bigger it is the healthier they process their food.  Look at their belly.  Look straight down your goat from the front head.  Is their width side to side really big and evenly big on both sides?   That “fat” is good rumen development and a sign of a healthy goat.  Now with Bloat the side (usually the left) of the goat will be wider than the right.  Bloat can cause difficulty breathing.

What causes Goat Bloat?

Overeating, a sudden change in a goat’s diet; eating certain weeds such as Milkweed; giving a goat grass hay or hay that is still wet or moldy; obstruction of the esophagus; Tetanus or face paralysis; and in kids it may occur when given milk replacers instead of goat’s milk.

Signs of Goat Bloat:

The goat’s stomach protrudes out more than normal, mostly the left side (rumen area) will look bigger; your Pygmy goat or Nigerian will show signs of discomfort such as kicking, ‘mawing’, or grinding their teeth (not to be confused with normal “cud chew”; your goat may have a lack of interest in normal activities or seem depressed; and in severe cases difficulty breathing.

Prevention of Goat Bloat:

  1. Provide Pygmies and Nigerians with fresh, good quality hay and restrict grazing time on rapid growing pastures.
  2. Provide baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) free choice.  Baking soda aids in balancing the pH level in the rumen and helps to keep the digestive processes in tune.
  3.  Always make changes in diet gradually.

Goat Bloat Treatment:

  • Stop the goat from eating.
  • Give your Pygmies or Nigerians 1/4 – 1/3 cup of vegetable/peanut oil orally (NOT mineral oil). The oil breaks the bubbles in the stomach so they can poop and expel the excess gas.
  • Massage goat’s sides, especially the left side (rumen) until the goat begins to burp and fart.

If the bloat is really bad or your goat has trouble breathing, call a vet immediately!  The pressure in the stomach can stop the lungs or heart from working. The veterinarian can release the gas by lying the goat down on its right side and making a small incision behind the bottom of the ribs on the left side of the goat.