Abdominal Bloating in Livestock!


Published in: August 2018 Issue

Goats, cows, and other livestock chew their feed partially and then swallow it into their stomachs, where it is further digested through rumination. If the protein in the feed fails to digest properly with the bacteria present in the stomach, it leads to the production of gas, causing the stomach to swell. This condition is known as abdominal bloating. The accumulation of gas can cause breathing difficulties and, in severe cases, can lead to the death of the livestock.

Therefore, abdominal bloating is a very dangerous condition. Blockages in the esophagus can sometimes cause bloating. These blockages can be due to foreign objects or excessively grown fat tissues, which impair the stomach’s movement. Excessive acid secretion can also lead to bloating. If the vagus nerve, which controls stomach functions, stops working, the ability to expel gas decreases, resulting in bloating.

Livestock that consume high-protein green fodder are more prone to bloating. Feeding livestock onions, cabbage, carrot leaves, or similar items can cause bloating and breathing difficulties. Allergies can also lead to bloating.

Symptoms of Bloating in Livestock

The stomach will expand abnormally. When the stomach is tapped, it will sound like a drum. The animals will stop eating and cease ruminating. In dairy cows, milk production will decrease. There will be abdominal pain, and the animals may kick their bellies with their hind legs due to the discomfort. Finally, severe breathing difficulties may occur, leading to death.


Remove the feed that caused the bloating. Open the animal’s mouth and pull the tongue out frequently as if trying to induce rumination. Allow the livestock to walk around. Mix 20 ml of camphor oil with 400 ml of groundnut oil and administer it. Alternatively, 15 grams of asafoetida can be powdered and mixed with half a liter of warm water and given to the animal. Another option is to mix 200 grams of sodium bicarbonate in a liter of water or give 500 ml of groundnut oil alone. These are only first aid measures. Therefore, it is crucial to immediately consult a veterinarian for proper treatment.


During festivals like Pongal or special occasions, feeding leftover food in excess can cause acid-related bloating. This is because livestock cannot digest foods like rice, rice porridge, wheat, and flour-based items easily. Livestock adapt to their regular feed and may suffer from abdominal bloating if there is a sudden change in their diet. In severe cases, specialized treatment by a veterinarian is required.

To prevent bloating, provide adequate nutritious feed before letting goats and cattle out to graze. Avoid giving very fine concentrated feed or spoiled materials to the cattle.

Dr. V. Rajendran, Former Deputy Director, Natham, Dindigul – 624 401.


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