NFU Mutual Smallholding Insurance

Author Topic: What causes bloat?  (Read 28142 times)

Fleecewife

  • Joined May 2010
  • South Lanarkshire
    • Wester Gladstone Hebridean Sheep
What causes bloat?
« on: April 13, 2016, 01:29:59 pm »

There are currently quite a few questions on TAS about bloat in lambs.  It's not something I have ever seen in my flock, I'm delighted to say, but I am interested in why it happens.

Is it just in bottle fed lambs, in lambs born inside, in new lambs, or can it affect older animals too? 
Is it just ovines, or can caprines and bovines get it too?
How can it be prevented?
What are the symptoms and what is the definitive treatment?

 :sheep: :sheep: :sheep: :sheep: :sheep:
www.scothebs.co.uk

Do something today that your future self will thank you for - plant a tree

Draco dormiens nunquam titillandus - let sleeping dragons lie
Voss Electric Fence

ladyK

  • Joined Dec 2012
  • Conwy Valley
Re: What causes bloat?
« Reply #1 on: April 13, 2016, 02:30:21 pm »
Good question, I was wondering that too!  :thumbsup:

I had a strange case of acute bloat last year with my oldest 11year old Soay ewe, so it's not just lambs that can get affected.
Old Dill is always very greedy so when I found her off food one morning I had the vet out straight away because it got me worried, knowing her. Vet checked her over, found that everything was totally normal including rumen noises, and nothing they could find to treat. Only 4 hours later (!) I found her standing alone and hunched up at the very bottom of the field, with a badly blown up belly and seemingly ready to die. We hauled her up the field in a blanket (in driving rain) and back to the vets where she spend the night, having to have her belly pierced twice to relieve the gas, as it kept building up. She stabilised by the morning and I took her back home nursing her for a few days with hedge cuttings and doses of that oil/bicarb/yoghurt mix, just in case the bloat was going to come back.
She recovered and been fine ever since. The vet could not explain what it was or what might have caused it.
So I have no idea!  ::)
"If one way is better than another, it is the way of nature." (Aristotle)

fsmnutter

  • Joined Oct 2012
  • Fettercairn, Aberdeenshire
Re: What causes bloat?
« Reply #2 on: April 13, 2016, 02:56:13 pm »
True "bloat" is a condition of ruminant animals, common in barley fed fattening cattle, or those fed tubers such as potatoes and turnips. It is also possible in sheep and goats, again usually those on high concentrates, fattening lambs or kidding/lactating goats, or anyone that breaks into a feed store!
Either the rumen conditions change, allowing a foam to build and trap rumen gases (as in acidosis from too much grain or concentrates) or a physical blockage such as a potato stops belching and release of rumen gases.
Symptoms are being off food, sometimes dull and a very large tummy behind the ribs, more so on the left, which is taut and gas filled.
It can be fatal rapidly when the pressure of the rumen stops blood returning to the heart, post mortem can sometimes show this is the case.
Treatment requires getting the gas out, either by passing a stomach tube or putting a cannula in the animal's side. If mild, repeated treatment with bicarbonate of soda to dilute the excess acid, and vegetable oil to help break up the foam, can be successful. This is more likely to be helpful in small ruminants as cattle can produce such vast volumes of gas it is more likely to be fatal if not treated rapidly as above.

In young lambs (and other ruminant species) the rumen is not yet developed and so the gases produced are usually due to milk getting into the undeveloped rumen instead of the abomasum or true stomach. The true stomach is acidic, so the correct bacteria and conditions exist to digest milk. The rumen is not acidic, and at this age, does not have many digestion bacteria, so Lactobacilli feed on the milk and grow rapidly, as can other species like E. coli. These bacteria can produce gases, allow the milk to ferment and become like curds, blocking up the flow of intestinal content and onwards to faeces.
This will result in full, bloated tummies, but often with sloshing sounds if the animal is gently rattled, as in the name "watery belly" where the gas and liquids in the stomachs mix.
It is also commonly known as "bloat" in bottle lambs, or I believe "floppy kid syndrome" is similar, and is often due to kids or lambs guzzling excess bottle milk and overfilling the true stomach causing the situation above.
Treatment for this is antibiotics to kill E. coli in particular, rehydration fluids instead of milk for at least 24 hours, little and often as the stomachs is already full.
The best chance of recovery is if attention is paid to the gut transit element - warm water and washing up liquid can be given as an enema. The water will be absorbed to an extent, aiding with hydration, and the liquid and soap will help break down the sticky faeces, fermented milk and general sticky obstruction in the intestines.

Womble

  • Joined Mar 2009
  • Stirlingshire, Central Scotland
Re: What causes bloat?
« Reply #3 on: April 13, 2016, 03:05:29 pm »
A fantastic reply - thankyou so much for taking the time fsmnutter!  :thumbsup:
Experience is what you get just after you needed it.

twizzel

  • Joined Apr 2012
Re: What causes bloat?
« Reply #4 on: April 13, 2016, 03:25:22 pm »
Another cause is high sugar content in grass- had a lamb bloat last year at about 4 months old, been out at grass for 8 weeks, no creep fed for 4 weeks. One morning came in bloated- vet attributed it to high sugar content in grass and had treated a couple of other lambs that week with the same issue. She was fine thankfully.

suziequeue

  • Joined Feb 2010
  • Llanidloes; Powys
Re: What causes bloat?
« Reply #5 on: April 13, 2016, 03:29:05 pm »
Thanks fsmnutter. Very informative. I am interested to know:

       A. How does the rumen mature
       B. Does milk bypass the immature rumen and go straight to the abomasum? and - if that is the case - how does this happen?

I understand that it is important to give drenches in a particular way so as to ? bypass the rumen. What technique needs to be adopted to ensure this happens?

Also - what predisposes to a change in rumen conditions apart from a sudden change in feed?

« Last Edit: April 13, 2016, 03:30:43 pm by suziequeue »
We do the best we can with the information we have

When we know better we do better

fsmnutter

  • Joined Oct 2012
  • Fettercairn, Aberdeenshire
Re: What causes bloat?
« Reply #6 on: April 13, 2016, 03:57:39 pm »
A. By feeding hay/straw/grass from a young age, nibbling little bits stimulates the rumen to develop.
B. Yes, there is a miraculous little thing called the rumeno-reticular groove which creates a little tube for the liquid to pour past the rumen. If you watch a natural suckling lamb/kid/calf, you will see the angle of the head and neck that creates the best position for this groove to function correctly, and salivation and the mental anticipation of feeding helps. If bottle feeding, trying to mimick this low neck high mouth position will help the milk go down "the right way". They will usually instinctively try to adopt this position on automatic or bucket feeders as they would on mum.

Drenches are normally given with the head up, so this is the same position, but my understanding is that the groove only functions as long as necessary until the rumen has developed so I'm not so sure you will be bypassing the rumen, but I'd be grateful if anyone else had information on this. I believe this position is mostly to make sure the drench gun is less likely to hit the back of the throat causing injury, and encourage swallowing of the drench by getting at the back of the tongue.

Illness causing lack of feeding, changes of the rumen conditions within the animal could predispose to bloat, or climatic conditions as described can affect sugars and palatability of grass, which can cause more foam build up or ingestion of long grasses can physically block gas escaping.

Jukes Mum

  • Joined Apr 2014
  • North Yorkshire
Re: What causes bloat?
« Reply #7 on: April 13, 2016, 04:12:53 pm »
Fab info  :thumbsup:
Quote
[/This will result in full, bloated tummies, but often with sloshing sounds if the animal is gently rattled, as in the name "watery belly" where the gas and liquids in the stomachs mix.quote]
So is "watery belly" just another name for bloat in lambs?
Don’t Monkey With Another Monkey’s Monkey

fsmnutter

  • Joined Oct 2012
  • Fettercairn, Aberdeenshire
Re: What causes bloat?
« Reply #8 on: April 13, 2016, 04:16:13 pm »
I believe "watery belly" to be a specific illness, characterised by some bacterial infection, some bloating, constipation/sticky faeces and lethargy and inappetance.
I personally would not call it bloat, although bloating is a recognisable symptom.

Jukes Mum

  • Joined Apr 2014
  • North Yorkshire
Re: What causes bloat?
« Reply #9 on: April 13, 2016, 04:16:40 pm »
I see!
Don’t Monkey With Another Monkey’s Monkey

Marches Farmer

  • Joined Dec 2012
  • Herefordshire
Re: What causes bloat?
« Reply #10 on: April 13, 2016, 04:18:04 pm »
We once had a very old ewe on very wet pasture die overnight from bloat and I wonder if a lot of water dilutes the "soup" in the rumen that helps digest grass. 

SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
Re: What causes bloat?
« Reply #11 on: April 13, 2016, 04:45:15 pm »
True "bloat" is a condition of ruminant animals, common in barley fed fattening cattle, or those fed tubers such as potatoes and turnips. It is also possible in sheep and goats, again usually those on high concentrates, fattening lambs or kidding/lactating goats, or anyone that breaks into a feed store!
Either the rumen conditions change, allowing a foam to build and trap rumen gases (as in acidosis from too much grain or concentrates) or a physical blockage such as a potato stops belching and release of rumen gases.
Symptoms are being off food, sometimes dull and a very large tummy behind the ribs, more so on the left, which is taut and gas filled.
It can be fatal rapidly when the pressure of the rumen stops blood returning to the heart, post mortem can sometimes show this is the case.
Treatment requires getting the gas out, either by passing a stomach tube or putting a cannula in the animal's side. If mild, repeated treatment with bicarbonate of soda to dilute the excess acid, and vegetable oil to help break up the foam, can be successful. This is more likely to be helpful in small ruminants as cattle can produce such vast volumes of gas it is more likely to be fatal if not treated rapidly as above.

In young lambs (and other ruminant species) the rumen is not yet developed and so the gases produced are usually due to milk getting into the undeveloped rumen instead of the abomasum or true stomach. The true stomach is acidic, so the correct bacteria and conditions exist to digest milk. The rumen is not acidic, and at this age, does not have many digestion bacteria, so Lactobacilli feed on the milk and grow rapidly, as can other species like E. coli. These bacteria can produce gases, allow the milk to ferment and become like curds, blocking up the flow of intestinal content and onwards to faeces.
This will result in full, bloated tummies, but often with sloshing sounds if the animal is gently rattled, as in the name "watery belly" where the gas and liquids in the stomachs mix.
It is also commonly known as "bloat" in bottle lambs, or I believe "floppy kid syndrome" is similar, and is often due to kids or lambs guzzling excess bottle milk and overfilling the true stomach causing the situation above.
Treatment for this is antibiotics to kill E. coli in particular, rehydration fluids instead of milk for at least 24 hours, little and often as the stomachs is already full.
The best chance of recovery is if attention is paid to the gut transit element - warm water and washing up liquid can be given as an enema. The water will be absorbed to an extent, aiding with hydration, and the liquid and soap will help break down the sticky faeces, fermented milk and general sticky obstruction in the intestines.

:bookmark:

Thanks fsmnutter  :thumbsup:
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 cow, beef cattle, pigs, sheep for meat and fleece, ducks and hens for eggs, veg and fruit growing

Fleecewife

  • Joined May 2010
  • South Lanarkshire
    • Wester Gladstone Hebridean Sheep
Re: What causes bloat?
« Reply #12 on: April 13, 2016, 05:23:42 pm »
Thank you SO much fsmnutter - that is a brilliant reply, which took time and thought to write  :bouquet:

I think it will help a lot of people to have this reply in the permanent pink bit at the top of the sheep section (as there is in coffee lounge).   Is this what 'bookmark' is Sally? .  Otherwise, how is it done please @Dan

I'm so pleased I asked the question and that I got such an in-depth reply.
« Last Edit: April 13, 2016, 06:46:39 pm by Fleecewife »
www.scothebs.co.uk

Do something today that your future self will thank you for - plant a tree

Draco dormiens nunquam titillandus - let sleeping dragons lie

henchard

  • Joined Dec 2010
  • Carmarthenshire
    • Two Retirees Start a New Life in Wales
    • Facebook
Re: What causes bloat?
« Reply #13 on: April 13, 2016, 05:30:43 pm »
One of the biggest causes of bloat particularly in cattle is a lot of clover in the field, particularly when they are turned out onto fresh pasture.

One of the most successfu methods of dealing with it (particularly in cattle) is to to get them straight inside and feed them hay rather than leave them on the grass. Used to have hundreds of cattle as a youngster and this always worked if you catch them early enough. It's usually much less of a problem with sheep. Can I ask those affected if there pastures have a lot of clover in them?

More info and pdf link here

https://www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/animals-and-livestock/sheep/health/other/bloat
« Last Edit: January 16, 2018, 12:53:16 pm by Dan »

SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
Re: What causes bloat?
« Reply #14 on: April 13, 2016, 06:17:51 pm »
Is this what 'bookmark' is Sally?

In the absence of any kind of 'favourite' functionality, I use :bookmark: to give me searchable posts.

Others can search on my bookmarks of course, by searching for the word and 'by SallyIntNorth', and/or of course create their own.

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 cow, beef cattle, pigs, sheep for meat and fleece, ducks and hens for eggs, veg and fruit growing

 

Help! Possible bloat?

Started by MudJunkie

Replies: 4
Views: 2326
Last post May 30, 2012, 08:59:15 pm
by jaykay
Bloat? Help!

Started by Jukes Mum

Replies: 9
Views: 2262
Last post May 19, 2014, 02:54:54 pm
by sarahdean_66
ewe with bloat

Started by kanisha

Replies: 2
Views: 1211
Last post April 21, 2015, 07:07:18 am
by kanisha
Tried everything for bloat please help!

Started by Emrys

Replies: 0
Views: 522
Last post March 21, 2017, 06:37:01 pm
by Emrys
Is this bloat?

Started by mmuagain

Replies: 0
Views: 401
Last post March 21, 2017, 09:48:28 am
by mmuagain

Forum sponsors

FibreHut Assist Animal Care Services Thomson & Morgan Time for Paws Scottish Smallholder & Grower Festival Little Peckers

© The Accidental Smallholder Ltd 2003-2019. All rights reserved.

Design by Furness Internet

Site developed by Champion IS