Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Bloat In Lambs

The main cause of bloat thought to be a bacteria sarcina ventriculi. Warm milk entering the stomach creates perfect substrate for fermentation.
From the fermentation of the bacteria excess gas is produced causing the expanding of the stomach.
This aggressive bacteria lives on lactose. This bug is everywhere and is easily picked up by the lambs.
The bloated stomach of the lamb can rupture killing the lamb. The other organs can also be crushed.
Abdominal  bloat in young lambs is clinically diagnosed by a dissension abdomen especially the right side.
Bloat can also be caused due to a lack of colostrum and over feeding.
You should really try to prevent this terrible loss by good farm management.
Most farmers seem to loose their bummer lambs to bloat when they are 4 weeks old.
Don't feed the lamb too quickly every 10 seconds you should stop and resume feed.
The hole in the teat should not be too big. The strong sucking of the teat encourages the closing of the valve in the stomach which is needed. If a lamb was tube fed at any stage this valve could be damaged extra strong  sucking is needed in this case also.
Never make the bottle with hot water and allow it too cool this will cause digestive problems.
Do not feed warm milk replacer after the first few days of lambs life.
Feed the lamb cold milk replacer. The bacteria multiply at a quicker rate with the warm milk.
Don't feed meal immediately before or after feed.
Add yogurt to the lamb milk repalcer. Best to start this when the lamb is 5 days old.
Yogurt contains probiotics that prevent pathogens from growing by providing competition for bad bacteria. Yogurt also contains probiotics which stimulate the growth of good bacteria.
Add the yogurt with the milk replacer leave for 24 hours and serve cold
You can use powder probiotic to give the lamb the necessary enzymes to digest the milk.
Teaspoon of vegetable oil mixed with the feed to stop the milk foaming in the stomach.


Early intervention is critical in the treatment of bloat. Early signs are a swollen belly and a miserable looking lamb.

Do not allow the lamb to have access to any feed.

Put a tube in the lambs belly via the nose or mouth. Make sure you don't put it into the lungs. To have the correct length of tubing measure from the head to just in front of the rear legs where they meet the belly. In less severe bloat this will release the gas. Rub the lambs belly while you have the tube in.

Then via a syringe  in mouth give 1 disprin, 1 table spoon of vegetable oil, and half a cc of penicillin to restart the rumen. Get the lamb to walk around and massage the belly.


Half a cup of baking soda three quarters cup of water and 2 table spoons of vegetable oil. You do not need to give all the mixture. Feed via syringe in mouth.Then half a cc of penicillin. Walk lamb around and massage the belly.


Using syringe squire 3-4 cc of castor oil down the throat. Feed half cc of neomycin sulfrate to restart the rumen. Walk lamb and massage the belly.


Put the tube in the belly to try to release the gas, then syringe 40ml of vegetable or mineral oil and half cc of penicillin. Walk and massage lamb.


Half a teaspoon of ground ginger with 2 tablespoons of water via the syringe in mouth. Half cc of penicillin. Walk and massage lamb.


Relieving the bloat with a needle inserted into abomasum to vent the gas



  1. Should orphan lambs have a heat lamp?

    1. Hello, a fit and healthy lamb should not not need a heat lamp. The healthy lamb just needs a draft free place with clean bedding. If the lamb is weak and sick it may need to be warmed up so this could be done using the heat lamp or if you want bring the weak lamb inside to the warmth of your home beside the range etc. You could rap a heat pad or a hot water bottle in towel and place it under a blanket to help heat up a sick lamb. Be careful when using the heat lamp.

  2. Should I put oil in every feed or just once a day?

  3. Hi, you can put the oil in every feed for extra precaution.The main thing is to feed them cold milk replacer slowly and regularly. Hope you enjoy the blog posts. Bye

  4. Hi, if I make up the days feed the night before, how much yoghurt should I add and how do I store it the next day? Thanks

    1. Hello, one tablespoon of plain natural yoghurt per 100ml of lamb milk replacer. The milk can be stored in the refridgerator for 24 hours. If you freeze the milk it can be stored for up to 2 weeks. The lamb milk replacer should not be refrozen after defrosting. Goodluck and thanks for the blog view.

  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

  6. Hello,

    I'm writing here today with a very heavy heart.

    This year my 4-H ewe gave birth to a healthy little ewe of her own. We allowed her to nurse off her mother for the first three and a half days to ensure she got the colostrum she needed before taking her away. We always bottle feed our lambs since it makes them tamer and so that eventually when we sell them to other people or petting zoos they won't cause trouble for them.

    Everything was fine. She never seemed to bloat on the bottle and we only kept very small amounts of hay available for her to nipple on if she wanted.

    It was only after she was weaned that things got bad. At first we just thought it was fat from being fed such a rich formula but when it didn't start dissipating after the first day we started looking for remedies for bloat safe for a baby doll lamb. We tried most of the ideas above but didn't get much of a result. We called our vet who suggested giving 1/3 cc of Mylanta or Pepto to her a few times a day to release the gas but that didn't help either.

    We were supposed to have a another vet come out today and puncture the rumen to release the gas, but when we went out to check on her she was already dead.

    If anyone has any ideas please let me know. I don't like loosing my lamb and I'm really not sure what to do. Could it be the milk replacer I used? Or the hay is too rich? Annie was a pretty strong willed little girl so I don't think she just gave up.

    Anyway, thanks for reading this whole thing,


    1. Jessica, i don't bottle feed my lambs if not necessary, but i do start handfeeding them with unmedicated lamb starter when they're old enough. i also train them to walk with a halter using the lamb starter as a treat (clicker training, in a way). my lambs are really tame, so it seems that they don't need to be bottle babies. they just need good handling and some training. the time and expense of bottle feeding could be used for training and treats. the result in tameness is the same (and yes, i have also had bottle lambs to compare with). it's better for both lamb and mother to let them nurse. the colostrum isn't the only time they get antibodies from their mothers. new research (in mice) shows that the babies continue to get protective antibodies in the milk of their mothers until they are weaned.

  7. Hi we have lots two lambs to bloat and we have another that is quite bloated. Any tips to help this pet lamb before it gets too ill? Thankyou so much

    1. Sorry I meant we have lost 2 lambs to bloat

  8. I took our lamb to the vet and she said he had frothy bloat and said to give him 3 drops of rennet into his milk replacer just before each feed. This has worked a treat. Milk has to feed quickly as he will go solid the longer the rennet is in there. You can buy rennet from the powdered yoghurt section in your supermarket. Hope this helps.

  9. We have 2 week old lambs and I believe this to be the issue it is late here and I dont have any of the remedies help! My children will be devastated if they die