Goat Bloat: Quick Fixes and Prevention

Really sad news: Smiley, our sweetest milk goat, died this morning.

Everything seemed fine when I went out early this morning to open the gate and let the girls graze for a while before I milked. But when I went back outside about 20 minutes later, I found Smiley standing in her pen, something obviously terribly wrong.

She stood still, staring straight ahead and making a fast grunting/panting sound. Her belly was very swollen and felt tight when I pressed on it. And every minute or so she would let out a horrible cry, nothing like her usual bleating.

After watching her for a moment, and looking her over well, it was evident that she was in some major pain. I put down my milking stuff and ran inside to tell Jerry that something was really wrong with Smiley.

I quickly jumped on the phone and called a friend of mine who is a goat expert. Unfortunately, I got her answering machine. I figured she was probably out working the farm already. I left her a desperate message anyways, hoping maybe she’d call me back soon.

Next, I hopped online and looked up Fias Co Farm, searching through symptoms of illnesses. I wondered if maybe she’d eaten something poisonous. What in the world was wrong with her?

The only thing I could think of was bloat. It was usual for Smiley’s belly to look very fat after grazing, but she hadn’t been out that long. I decided I’d just treat her for bloat. It was better than doing nothing.

I grabbed a bottle of vegetable oil and poured 1/3 c. into a container. I planned on using a dropper to squirt it down her throat. Then I hurried out the door, whispering a prayer that this would work.

But it was too late.

When I got to her she was already dead.

Ugh. How horribly sad.

It had only taken about 15 minutes and she was gone. I stood over her lifeless body for a moment, hoping to see her take another breath. But there was none. I crouched down and rubbed her still warm body, and apologized to her for not getting there fast enough.

Later on this evening, my friend returned my call. She was really sorry to hear that my goat didn’t make it. I explained what had happened, and asked her what she thought it could have been.

“Has she had runny poop?” she asked.

“No. We’ve been worming her regularly.”

“Has she been in the feed bag?” she asked next.


“Wait, yes. Yesterday I noticed the lid had been knocked off the trash can with their feed in it. It didn’t look like much was eaten, so I didn’t think anything of it.”

“Was her belly really tight, like a balloon about to pop?”

“Yeah. Really swollen and tight.”

“Uh-huh. That’s what did it. She had bloat.” Ms. Faith replied.

“So, it could take that long to take effect?” I asked. I guess I figured if she overate it would be noticeable right away.

“Oh yeah. I had a goat do that not too long ago. He got into a bag of feed, and the next day he was dead.”

I felt so bad. I hadn’t thought anything of it when I’d replaced the lid on that can. It really didn’t look like anything had been eaten from the bags of feed.

She went on to explain that the next time I suspect they may have overeaten, to go ahead and give them vegetable oil, and to watch their poop. If they don’t poop, give them more oil until they do poop. She said it’s better if you give them too much oil and they have a little diarrhea than die from bloat.

So, now I’m concerned about our little doeling. I saw her in the trash can yesterday too, for a moment. She seems fine, and it doesn’t seem like she ate that much… but I’d thought the same about Smiley.

It’s good to know what to do though, if she does start showing symptoms of bloat. And you can be sure I’m gonna keep an eye on her for the next couple of days.

Ms. Faith also warned that Coccidiosis is something I need to be watching for at this time of year. Then she reassured me that goats are just hard to keep sometimes. They aren’t very hardy animals, and often die from one thing or another very quickly.


Big. Fat. Bummer.

Poor Smiley. May she rest in peace.

28 thoughts on “Goat Bloat: Quick Fixes and Prevention”

  1. My Nubian Female went lame so I continued to feed Her then She started moaning, Believe it or not this one for three days in desperation
    I gave her Activa vanilla and in a few hour she relieved herself, big time
    I’m surprised She didn’t die, she is now on the road to recovery ?

  2. I’m sorry to read about this too. Those of us with animals all try so hard to keep them healthy but there are so many unexpected things that can happen. Another thanks for me for sharing what you learned.

  3. Kendra,
    I happened upon your website this morning while looking for a recipe for canning pimento peppers. What a great site! We are kindred spirits in so many ways … Christians, homeschoolers, homesteaders. Only I have you beat by about 30 years and am looking in the rear view mirror at many of the things you are doing today. Keep the faith!

    I read this entry with interest. I found one of my goats with a bloated stomach last night as I did the bedtime check. She didn’t seem in distress or pain, but I was concerned about the tight L-sided stomach. I hadn’t noticed her chewing cud lately either. I gave her 1/2 cup Canola oil (she’s a miniature) with a little grain. She lapped it up, to my surprise. She’s fine this morning, praise God. She didn’t get into the feed or rich pasture, so I’m not sure what caused it. Because of your entry, I plan to keep a closer eye on her today. I guess I wasn’t as aware of the danger of bloat as I need to be. So Smiley’s tragic story is already helping others take better care of their animals, starting with me.

    I plan to be a regular guest on your blog. Feel free to visit me at Uddermostfarm.blogspot.com

  4. So, so sorry for your loss. I couldn’t imagine losing one of ours. But the information is good to know. As well as some of the information in these comments.

  5. We are sorry to hear about smiley. YHVH gives and He takes away. Blessed be YHVH!
    I try and remind the children it is not a loss if we learn from it and with your case, share and in hopes to help another.
    (We just loss two hens the other day due to the heat. We then gave them a fan.)
    ♥ Kline family

  6. Yes as long as it has wormwood it should be working…just like people as long as you can keep them healthy and well nourished most ailments are fought off by our God given natural immunities…Once you start pouring antibiotics and poisons down their throat and kill that natural defense system it is much harder to keep them healthy. We use wormwood we also use ACV in their water and Diatomaceous earth mixed with the little bit of feed they do get(we don’t give more than a handful just enough to keep them coming back to us) and we feed them pumpkin in the fall which is a natural wormer…we also give milk to the chickens for wormer along with the ACV and pumpkin…(lactic acid helps flush out parasites)

  7. Farming is so stinking hard sometimes!!!! It’s the tough ones that survive though….you are tough…so hang in there.

  8. So sorry girl – I’m sure your heart is just achin’ for your poor little Smiley. I will say a prayer for you 🙂

  9. Sorry to read of your lose. May I suggest again to you that join [email protected] ? Even if you are set up as no mail you can still search the archives and always post a quick message for help. I’ve learned so much from the group about raising goats naturally.

  10. Oh Kendra,
    That is so sad.We have never had a goat die of bloat(at least I do not think we have)but they have had complications after birthing a couple times and it is always so sad to lose a loved goat.So sorry for your loss.Is there a different place you can keep your grain?We always kept ours in a old van or someplace totally separated from our goats.Nikki

  11. Sorry to hear about your goat. I know it doesn’t make it easier but when I was young and my grandpa would lose a cow, he always would say, “better to have a death in the barn than in the house.” Kind of keeps things in perspective.

  12. Awwww I am so sorry. I have enjoyed reading the comments for some wisdom and knowledge. We just bought a 5 month old Kinder and a 5 month old Kinder/Nubian. We hope to milk them in a year or so after we get a buck and they kid.

  13. So sorry to hear about this.

    Losing a goat is so hard…..

    I am glad to have found your blog (I forget how…isn’t that funny) but I really enjoy it. (Especially the goat posts).

  14. So sorry to hear about your goat Kendra. I am sure you must be heart broken :(. My Kinder got bloat once but it wasn’t that bad I guess because she got better and I didn’t give her oil. I did stick my finger in her mouth to try and release some of the bloat and I messaged her belly a lot. It seems to help. Anyway, I hope the baby will be ok.

  15. Sorry that you lost another pet but thankful that you passed on the information to us. I am sure that your thoughtfulness in blogging about this will help someone else. Don’t lose heart, you will get many more joys than sadness from this country life. ~ CJ

  16. So sorry to hear about your goat. In the future always leave a bucket of baking soda with the goats it will help prevent bloat in the future. They will eat it if they need it just make sure it is where they can get to it and it stays dry and high enough up so they don’t poop in it. Goats are not that hard to keep. And all goat have some coccidia you just have to keep an eye on them if they get loaded you need to treat them. Healthy goats do not usually need constant treatment like some older goat keepers think. If you are going to treat chemically keep Albon on hand just in case but if you go the organic/holistic route wormwood is what you need to keep in the medicine chest…

  17. So sorry to hear about your sweet goat. Thanks for posting this info. We are planning to get goats really soon (in the process of putting up fence and building barn), so all this info is really helpful. You think you’re prepared for such as this, but I guess it just comes with the territory…farm animals die sometimes. We had the hardest time losing 2 chickens…I can’t imagine what it would be like with a goat…like you said…big fat bummer. So sorry :((


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