Bloat in Angora Goats
By Dr Mackie Hobson BSc(Agric),BVSc

Wednesday, 25th October 2017

Bloat in Angora goats can occur particularly when Lucerne lands are grazed but also when certain toxic plants have been eaten.

There are basically 2 types of bloat, both of which can be fatal.

  • Free gas bloat may be caused by certain plant poisons which cause rumen stasis such as in cases of tulp, krimpsiekte (cardiac glycosides) and prussic acid poisoning.

Any obstruction of the oesophagus may also prevent the gas from escaping resulting in bloat

  • Frothy bloat occurs when the gas gets trapped in the foam and can’t be released. Frothy bloat is seen especially in green, wilted or frost damaged grazing pastures such as lucerne and clover.

A normal goat will on average produce about 50 litres of gas a day. The rumen will contract to expel this gas but when paralysis of the rumen muscles occurs (as in cases of ‘Krimpsiekte’) or when the gas is trapped in the form of foam the goat is unable to expel the gas leading to bloat.

Clinical signs

Goats may just be found dead with a distended rumen (blown up like a drum). Usually they are more distended on the left hand side.

Effected goats will be uncomfortable, have difficulty breathing and the tongue may protrude. The goat may die within a matter of hours.


  1. When a goat is so bad that it may die at any time insert a trochar or even a needle into the LHS at a point equidistant from the hip and last rib and point of spine. If there is time clean and disinfect the skin before inserting the trochar. Using a trochar or stomach tube will not help in cases of frothy bloat (caused by poisonous plants such in cases of ‘Krimpsiekte’ or ‘Tulp’) as the gas is trapped in the foam.
  2. Vegetable oil dosed or tubed (20-100ml).


  1. Bloat Guard breaks up the froth releasing the gas and increases the surface tension of the rumen fluid.

Off licence dose about 10ml (Cattle the dose is 30 ml of Bloat Guard® that weigh 200 kg)
If the bloat is not subsiding (within half an hour) after the use of bloatgaurd then insert a trocar


Lifting the goat’s front legs may help release the gas after bloatgaurd treatment


Predisposing factors

High energy and protein supplementary feeding may increase the chance of bloat when goats are on lucerne.

Bloat can also occur when goats are fed high levels of concentrate without roughage.


  • When introducing goats onto lucerne first use the older grazed lands to allow adaption. The risk of bloat is also reduced once the Lucerne has been ‘topped’.
  • Don’t send hungry goats onto fresh lucerne lands. Feed dry Lucerne hay before sending onto the lands. This stimulates saliva production which helps prevent bloat.
  • When introducing goats onto lands for the first time put some dry lucerne bales out on the edges of the land.
  • Place a member of staff to ‘watch’ the goats when first introduced onto the lands or if condition indicate that the chance of bloat is greater. Some farmers will have dose guns prepared with vegetable oil to dose any goats showing any signs of bloating.
  • Watch out for fresh growth following rains.
  • Avoid grazing lucerne when wilted after hot, windy dry days.
  • The most dangerous times developing bloat is early in the morning ( 5 - 10 am)  and late afternoon ( 4 – 6 pm). So avoid chasing the goats onto the lands while ‘the dew is on the grass’.


The development of bloat in kids, especially in ‘hansies,’ is not the same as in adult goats.

Bloat develops from an abnormal digestive processes particularly in the abomasum of kids following a reduction in the pH (acidosis).

The resulting bacterial overgrowth is blamed but the underlying problem is the feeding of the milk replacer (especially if calf milk replacer is used ).

The bloat may also occur after the introduction of creep feed.


The condition often leads to rapid death.

On post mortem the abomasum may even have ruptured.

How can I treat these kids with bloat?

Due to the rapid bloat and death treatment is often not possible.

  1. Administration of an antibiotic. ( An oral antibiotic is better than an injectable).
  2. Dose or tube:
  • a mixture of vegetable oil and activated charcoal.
  • Calcium carbonate (Bicarb), about 5mg per kid


What can I do to prevent bloat in ‘hansie’ kids?

See the article under Nutririon on Feeding ‘hansies’.

  • Protrexin (1g a day with milk replacer) OR Biorem (1g a day with milk replace)


  • The inclusion of 1 % formalin [that is 1 ml formalien (37 % formaldehyde) per liter milk replacer can prevent the problem.

 Predominate bacteria isolated from abomasal contents from lambs which bloated when fed milk replacer were gram-positive rods. In vitro gas production by these bacteria when incubated with the milk replacer was reduced by 79 and 96%, respectively, by the 0.05 and 96%  formalin vs. no formalin.

Dr Mackie Hobson


Prof. Gareth Bath, Fakulteit Veeartsenykunde, Universiteit van Pretoria.

 Kellerman, T.S.,Coetzer, J.A.W., Naude, T.W. and Botha, C.J. 2005. Plant Poisonings and Mycotoxicoses of Livestock in Southern Africa. Oxford University Press.

 Faffa Malan, Veeartskonsultant

Mönnig, H.O., en Veldman, F.J. Handboek oor Veesiektes, 1975.

Radostits, O.M., Gay, C.C., Hinchcliff, K.W. and Constable, P.D. 2007. Veterinary Medicine.

Effects of Formaldehyde added to milk replacers on in vitro gas production, and on growth, digestion and incidence of abomasal bloat in lambs. A.D.L Gorrill, R.E. McQueen, T.M. MacIntyre, and J.W.G. Nicholson, Agricultural Canada, Research Station, Fredericton, N.B. and Experimental Farm, Nappan, Frothy bloat develops due to the fact that the cell walls of lucerne s are thin and break down quicker during cellulose digestion releasing the content quicker and providing the conditions for the development of stable foam. Young fresh plants have a higher content of soluble protiens and carbohydrate which increase the chance of developing bloat.

The contents of fresh lucern may also lead to the reduction of the surface tension of the rumen fluid and so result in the development of frothy bloat.N.S.

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