Bloat is a sudden and potentially lethal medical condition in sheep that is caused by an excess of trapped gas in the rumen of the animal. Bloat often occurs when sheep have sudden access to lush pastures heavy in legumes. The legumes ferment rapidly and produce gases too quickly for the sheep to digest. Bloat treatments for sheep include procedures that stop the formation of additional gas and assist in the removal of the gases present in the rumen. The best treatment for bloat is to avoid the condition through proper pasture management. Maintaining a predictable grazing system that encourages even, regular consumption of forage with limited legumes will reduce the occurrence of bloat in the herd.
Prepare the bloat remedy mixture by combining 1/2 cup water, 1/2 cup mineral or vegetable oil and 2 tbsp baking soda. Mix well and store it in a clean, empty plastic container or bottle. An empty soda bottle works well as a container. Mineral and vegetable oil are anti-foaming agents and help release gas in the rumen. Ground ginger can also be added to the mixture to improve the taste.
Restrain or secure the sheep while keeping it calm. Make sure that you do not put pressure on the stomach area of the sheep while restraining as this could exasperate the bloat.
Fill a syringe with your bloat remedy mixture. Give it to the sheep by inserting the syringe into its mouth and shooting the mixture directly down its throat.
Watch the throat of the sheep to make sure that the animal swallows the mixture.
Continue to administer the mixture in this manner until you have given the sheep a full cup.
Walk the sheep if possible and massage its stomach gently to aid in the release of the trapped gas bubbles. Lift the animal from below the stomach to help expel the gas.
Administer a stomach tube to release excess gas from the rumen if the mixture remedy does not alleviate the bloat. Pass a small diameter rubber stomach tube, between .5 and 1cm, down the sheep's throat and into the stomach. Excess gas will be released through the tube. Once the tube successfully reaches the stomach, gas will be emitted that smells like stomach contents. The stomach tube works immediately upon reaching the stomach.
Monitor your sheep to ensure that the bloat does not return. If your sheep experiences reoccurring problems with bloat you should consult your veterinarian and possibly change your grazing habits.
- If the oil and a stomach tube do not reduce the bloat, a rumenotomy may be performed in life-threatening situations. A rumenotomy involves puncturing the rumen, which is located on the upper left side of the lumbar region, and releasing a significant amount of the rumen contents. This procedure should be performed by a veterinarian. The area should be cleaned thoroughly and stitched after the procedure is performed.
- Bloated sheep should be treated with great care. Stressing the animal will complicate the problem. The build-up of pressure from the gas can cause the lungs to collapse. Bloat can also cause blood to be forced out of the body cavity to the extremities, which can cause acidosis.
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