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This article was first written by Cathy Hardy and presented on GoatWorks on the Internet. It concerns a problem which we all may face at one time or another - Grain Overload. Sooner or later we all may have a goat get out and into the grain bin. When it does, the following information may be quite helpful.

Grain overload is a very serious and potentially fatal condition. The main problem is not the bloating, but the acidosis. The grain ferments in the stomach, producing lactic acid. Too much acid kills the bacteria that digest the goats food. The acid also plays havoc with the rest of the goats system. There are certain things you can do to prevent the deadly acidosis, or at least lessen the severity of it. However, once symptoms appear, it is much more difficult to save the animals.

Symptoms of grain overload do not generally appear until about 12 hours or so after the intake of excess grain. Symptoms of grain overload include dehydration, depression, profuse diarrhea, bloating, and cessation of eating and rumination. Once symptoms apprear, veterinary intervention is essential. Treatment includes administration of fluids, both orally and IV, antiacids, etc. It is time-consuming, difficult, expensive, and a favorable outcome is by no means assured.

If you catch the goat in the act of gorging itself on grain, the first thing to do is to withhold water for at least 12 hours. Without the water, the fermentation cannot occur. The second thing to do is to offer the culprit all the dry hay you can get it to eat - preferably not alfalfa, but if its all you've got, use it. The object is to dilute the grain with as much fibrous material as possible. This, too, helps to prevent, or at least reduce the severity of, the acidosis. Give the animal penicillin for at least 5 days. This is important in preventing sudden death caused by infections the acidity sets the animal up for. Give a dose of entero antitoxin, and then try to reach your vet. Do the other things first tho - particularly the water and the hay.

Your vet may advise you to take additional actions. Often these include the administration of antiacids such as Rumilax and toxin absorbers such as Toxiban, which contains activated charcoal. These products are often given by the quart. The use of a turkey baster, particularly if you have several animals to treat, is not practical. You could use an esophageal feeder made for baby calves if you have one, but you can also fashion a good makeshift stomach tube from a funnel and some plastic tubing. I did. I got a funnel from the grocery store. It holds about a pint. Then I went to the auto supply and got a length of clear plastic tubing. Mine is 31" long. You want the tubing to just fit over the end of the funnel. You want it tight so it won't slip off. I chose some that would almost, but not quite, slip over the end of the funnel.When I got home, I heated the end of the tubing with hot water until it softened enough to go over the end of the funnel.

To use the tube, lubricate it. Insert enough tube so that you about at the first rib. Straddle the goat and hold the jaw with your left hand. Insert the tube with the right. It usually helps to have someone else to help pour. Before you pour, listen at the end of the tube. If you hear a gurgling sound, you are at the right place. If you hear a rushing of air, pull it out and start over. You might like to have your vet show you how to do this the first time.

Hopefully, you will never have to use these directions. Remember that the best thing is prevention. I keep all my feed in metal barrels in a locked feed room. And I check to make certain, before leaving the barn, that the door to the feed area is closed and latched. Its a lot easier to take these simple precautions than to go thru the trauma of treating (or perhaps losing) the goats.


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