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Rumen acidiosis in ruminants

Livestock By Dr Paul Kang’ethe | September 4th 2020 at 09:13:42 GMT +0300

To animals that show signs of recovery give only good quality hay and no grain at all for 3-4 days.

Rumen acidosis is a fast killing disease in ruminants that is caused by overeating with grains or ground feed.

What causes Rumen Acidosis?

Grain are nutritious and very key component of animal feed. When cattle, goats or sheep accidentally gain access to large amounts of grain or concentrate feed and eat too much of it the rumen contents turn acid, which can rapidly kill the animals.

What are the signs and symptoms?

After eating ground feed first signs appear faster than after ingestion of whole grain.

The signs that appear include: bloat, pain and kicking against the belly, sometimes animals that have eaten a lot of grain start drinking a lot of water, no more feeding or ruminating at all, no rumen contractions, staggering or not moving, lying down and unable to rise and completely dull. Some show shallow rapid breathing, high temperature up to 410 C, diarrhea which is liquid and sour smelling often with undigested grain visible.

Large amount of grain ingested produce more severe acidosis. A cow or goat can die already at early stages of the disease. The time between overeating and death in cattle is 1 to 3 days, in goats it can be as short as 3 hours.

Cattle may improve and then relapse 2-3 days later. Survivors may also go lame or abort. Overeating on grain is especially dangerous in animals that feed on pasture and do not normally receive grains or concentrate feed. In pastured animals 10kg of grain ingested over a short time is enough to kill a cow and 1kg can kill a goat.

What is the treatment for Rumen Acidosis?

Once you notice your animal has rumen acidosis, call a Vet quickly to administer a 5% sodium bicarbonate solution and electrolytes intravenously.

To animals that show signs of recovery give only good quality hay and no grain at all for 3-4 days.

Animals that are severely affected may die any moment and should be slaughtered to salvage the meat.

How to prevent rumen acidosis in your farm?

Always store grains and concentrate feed safely and out of reach for livestock.

When supplementing your animals with grain, start by giving small amounts of grain in the evening after animals return from grazing and gradually increase the amount over two weeks.

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