Bloating is a common problem in cattle farming. It is often experienced during periods of high pasture growth. It can simply be described as the build-up of gas in the rumen. Fermented feeds lead to increase in the gas pressure within the rumen; the gas cannot be belched up normally hence the occurrence of bloating. Normally, the gas produced during the digestion process is eradicated by belching (eructation). Any obstructions in the process of eliminating these gases can lead to bloating. This condition is often precipitated by rapid overconsumption of lush legume pasture species.

Types of Cattle Bloating

The most common type of bloating is referred to as frothy bloat which occurs as a consequence of a stable foam developing on top of the rumen liquid blocking the release of gas. It can also occur as gassy bloat, which is less common. Gassy bloat is experienced when foreign objects obstruct the gullet or simply when the cow cannot burb due to various conditions like milk fever or tetanus. Bloating is in fact said to be one of the leading causes of death in cattle. It leads to severe distention of the abdomen, compression of the heart and lungs causing organ failure, and eventually death. Farmers can adopt home remedies for bloating cattle so as to prevent bloating. This article therefore explores various home remedies for bloating cattle that are effective and recommended by the agricultural community. Note that these remedies may vary according to the type of bloating, hence the need to properly distinguish between the two if treatment is to be effective. Home remedies for bloating cattle should be administered when these symptoms appear:

  • cows are no longer grazing;
  • reluctant to move;
  • distended left abdomen;
  • appear distressed – vocalise, eyes bulging;
  • strain to urinate and defecate;
  • rapid breathing – mouth may be open with the tongue protruding.

Liquid Treatment

This is among the most common home remedies for bloating cattle. The treatment is used when cattle are experiencing gas bloat. Note that the liquid treatment is only applicable to animals that can still stand. A box or sachet of bicarbonate soda is mixed with water in a ration of approximately ½ the sachet/box to 1litre. An alternative is to use vegetable cooking oil and fill about 500ml long-necked bottle with water. Glass bottles are not recommended as cows can clench their teeth possibly breaking the bottle resulting in injury. When administering this treatment, take care to do it slowly so as to avoid aspiration to the lungs. After treatment, the cow is mostly likely to burp in order to release the gas. Massage the rumen area with firm long strokes from the abdomen towards the spine. Oil and baking soda home remedies for bloating cattle work by dissolving the foam that fills up the rumen. These are part of a limited number of home remedies that are recommended for frothy bloat.

Needle Treatment

Home remedies for bloating cattle also include the needle treatment. This treatment requires a 1½ inch needle and a large bore, 14 to 16 gauge. This is attached to the syringe. A larger syringe is preferable as it allows for an effective grip. When administering the treatment, identify the sublumbar fossa which is the soft triangle between the ribs and the pelvic hooks. Firmly insert the needle a few inches in front of the sublumbar fossa, under the last big rib. The gas will begin to exit the rumen. Most farmers struggle to get this correct the first time, therefore it is important to make sure that the cow is down to its normal size. If the hissing sound of the exiting gas stops while the cow is still bloated, readjust the needle. This operation takes about 15minutes and is considered as one the faster and easier home remedies for bloating cattle. It is often applied when cattle are experiencing gas bloat.

Tubing Treatment

This method makes use of a tube to release gas trapped in the rumen. The tube should be about 1 to 1.5m long. File the round off the edges on both ends. Seek for aid to keep the mouth open when inserting the tube in the throat. Note that it is a difficult task to access the windpipe because it is ribbed and stiffer than the oesophagus. If liquid is released by mistake, there is risk of pneumonia that can cause death. As such, use the curve of the tube as a guide over the tongue. Once at the top area of the rumen, there will be a stench indicating that the tube is correctly inserted. The cows should be under watch 24hours after the treatment; this is because cows can become chronic bloaters. This treatment constitutes various home remedies for bloating cattle and is usually used for gas bloat. The tubing treatment is only recommended for experienced personnel as it should be done correctly, errors may result in death of animals.

Piercing Treatment

The piercing treatment basically involves piercing the rumen with a knife. The knife should be sharp and about 1 to 2cm wide and 8 to 10cm long. A bamboo tube of approximatly 30cm long and as wide as a man’s thumb is also required. Tools must be washed thoroughly and disinfected prior to administering treatment. Insert the knife on the left side of the cow stabbing the highest point of the swollen part. Quickly insert the bamboo tube soon after removing the knife. Gas will begin to exit the rumen; the treatment takes about 30minutes. Then, pour a mixture of 300 ml vegetable oil and 30 ml of turpentine oil into the bamboo tube. The mixture of oil breaks up the bubbles in the rumen that causes bloat and prevents recurrence. The wound heals on its own as animal skin is tight. It may however be necessary to apply powdered charcoal, fresh from the stove and cooled in order to avoid possible infection.

Frothy Bloat Treatment

Frothy bloat considered as the most serious form of cow bloat. None the less, various home remedies for bloating cattle are still applicable. If foam appears after inserting the needle or the tube, it is an indication of froth bloat. As such, dry bloat treatments (gas bloat remedies) can be administered provided the foam is minor and drains easily. However, if it is thick and fails to dissolve, this is a sign of stable form that can clog up in the tubing blocking any form of treatment. For this reason, a veterinary medical professional should be consulted quickly. Note that frothy bloat is highly life threatening therefore any delays in treatment result in death within hours.

Post Treatment

It is advisable to practise post treatment measures after administering a range of home remedies for bloating cattle. These help to determine the effectiveness of the administered remedy. Cows should be kept standing, or allowed to walk soon after treatment. Also, make sure that they are chewing cud and burping. The treatment is regarded as effective if cows are able to release gas soon after.