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Author Topic: Worrying about bloat  (Read 2233 times)


  • Joined Aug 2018
Worrying about bloat
« on: May 02, 2023, 09:40:17 pm »
I have three lambs on the bottle. Youngest is 6 weeks and oldest is 8 weeks. Iím currently giving the youngest 400ml x3. The oldest is on 150ml x3. The middle one is on 250ml x3. The youngest and middle were on 375ml but I upped the younger as she sucks like a maniac and presumed hungry and I have given the middle one less as she always looks quite round. They are all out on grass 24/7 and have access to creep most of the time.

I appreciate the oldest one prob doesnít need anything now but I was keeping him on a small amount as I was planning to stop them all at the same time.

Iím worried about bloat as Iíve never experienced it and donít want to. The two younger ones have lots of breaks when they have their feed else they end up in a noisy crackly mess and have to cough up to get rid of it. The middle one also salivates foam quite a bit. I thought it was down to my OHís feeding technique but she did it with me earlier and afterwards was panting a little bit too. Sheís also quite round in the tummy, as is the older one. The little one never looks round hence another reason why I thought she was hungry.

I know it says on the bag to wean abruptly but someone I know says they reduce the amount in a feed before stopping completely. This makes sense to me as itís what would happen were they with their Mums. I want to drop down to two feeds a day now the youngest is 6 weeks but worry sheíll be hungry. She was quite small to begin with. Just not sure what to do with them or if the middle one seeming to get in a chesty foamy mess is a bad signÖ

None of them are lethargic or seem in discomfort so assume Iím not over feeding? Just worry Iím going to do them more harm than good.


  • Joined Apr 2012
Re: Worrying about bloat
« Reply #1 on: May 03, 2023, 07:34:07 am »
The bloat comes from too much milk mixing with large amounts of creep and grass (I still believe thereís a link with grass and bloat, hence why my pet lambs stay in for the first 12 weeks). To be honest you could just cut milk out completely if youíre worried about bloat as long as theyíre picking at creep and straw, and have fresh water they should be fine. They will be hungry but the creep will fill that void. I know others will disagree with me but weaning early and abruptly and keeping them on creep/straw works for me, Iíve not had a case of bloat for many many years. Iíd rather they take a growth check at weaning than drop dead from bloat.
« Last Edit: May 03, 2023, 07:37:04 am by twizzel »


  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
    • Trelay Cohousing Community
Re: Worrying about bloat
« Reply #2 on: May 03, 2023, 07:42:45 pm »
100% they can all be on two feeds a day now.  They will eat more creep if they are getting less milk, which is a good thing.  ;).   Even the youngest can make some real use of the creep now, and the older ones have fully functioning rumens so will make good use of the creep.

The thing about older lambs aspirating milk is if they didn't get presented with the bottle correctly in the first few days, the oesophageal reflex (which makes a closed tube to deliver milk only into the abomasum) may not have developed correctly.  Milk therefore sloshes about in the throat and can end up in the wrong places - windpipe hence spluttering and foaming, and potentially also rumen which can cause bloat.

You can't make the oesophageal reflex happen now, so your best choice is to feed less milk rather than more, and wean that lamb as soon as you are sure it is eating creep well.  Ideally at least half a pound a day, but it's hard to know how much individuals are taking when they're together with ad lib cake, so you can only guesstimate.

If they were mine, anything 8 weeks and older that's eating creep, I would wean now.  Anything 7 weeks and older that foams or coughs when bottle fed, also wean now if it's definitely eating creep, otherwise go down to 1 bottle a day (and not too big a one), and keep an eye on it to make sure it eats creep to make up for the milk it's not getting.  Then stop the milk when it's definitely eating creep. 

The 6 weeker, I would go to 2 bottles a day now, for another week, then stop as above, ie., sooner rather than later if it's coughing when fed, but make sure it's eating creep if you can. 

I wouldn't be blasť about the possibility of bloat, but also I wouldn't let it terrify you.  Bloat doesn't kill them in 20 minutes, and it usually responds well to prompt treatment - and should not require the vet if you spot it and treat it promptly. 

Don't listen to the money men - they know the price of everything and the value of nothing

Live in a cohousing community with small farm for our own use.  Dairy cows (rearing their own calves for beef), pigs, sheep for meat and fleece, ducks and hens for eggs, veg and fruit growing


  • Joined Aug 2018
Re: Worrying about bloat
« Reply #3 on: May 05, 2023, 09:33:52 pm »
Theyíre all down to two feeds now. Token amount for the older ones really and a little extra for the youngest.
The oldest isnít too bothered about getting anything, the middle one wants more, and the youngest one is very noisy!!
Definitely all eating creep but like you say itís hard to say how much.


  • Joined May 2023
Re: Worrying about bloat
« Reply #4 on: May 06, 2023, 09:17:39 pm »
Iíve lost a lamb this morning to bloat and as a result Iíve weaned all of mine as of today.

Think I got a bit cross eyed with feeds, amounts, sterilising, worried I wasnít feeding them enough and wasnít focusing on the end goal which is to ultimately wean them.

That said, Iím now wondering what amounts of hay/straw they should have access to and if that contributed to the bloat?


  • Joined Apr 2012
Re: Worrying about bloat
« Reply #5 on: May 06, 2023, 10:22:27 pm »
Hay and straw shouldnít cause bloat. More likely grass especially wet grass, and creep, which is why you should wean when intakes start increasing.


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