Posted by Jennifer Sartell, Professional Homesteader & Blogger, Fri, May 11, 2018
Baking soda can be a useful addition to your goat’s diet. It can aid in digestion issues and help to prevent bloat, a sometimes deadly condition caused by overeating or eating the wrong food.
Goats are notorious escape artists and can be extremely cunning. They will commonly hop over fences or mow down barriers to gorge themselves on grain. In the spring, sometimes returning to thick, green, lush pasture can cause stomach upset.
“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
While I can’t find any hard scientific evidence that baking soda is beneficial to goats’ health, I can say that we’ve always offered it to our goats and we’ve never had a problem with bloat. Our livestock vet has also recommended it as a preventative.
The Domestic Goat Diet and Baking Soda
You might be asking yourself, “Why would a goat need baking soda?” I tend to question suggestions that veer away from how an animal is raised in nature. While a form of sodium bicarbonate does occur naturally in the wild, it surely isn’t available to goats in the quantity that would be offered in a domestic setting. To understand how baking soda helps, it’s good to have a refresher on the goat’s digestive system.
Goats are ruminants, which means they have a multi-chambered stomach that works like a fermentation vat. Bacteria in the stomach break down the goat’s food, making nutrients available to the animal. Acids in the true stomach chamber then digest these smaller fermented food particles so the goat can absorb nutrients.
The goat is also a grazer by nature, meaning that as the herd moves over the countryside/mountains it nibbles here and there, eating small amounts of food throughout the day. Contrary to popular belief, goats are in fact not pasture animals. They can be successfully raised on pasture, but a true goat diet consists of shrubs, leaves, weeds and brambles, not grass.
For the modern goat keeper, this bramble-type setting can be difficult to provide to a herd while still keeping your animals in fenced areas. Once a goat has cleared a pasture of its brambles, it’s difficult to add more. So, when put on pasture a goat will resort to eating grass; however, if too much is consumed at once it can overwhelm the bacteria in the rumen. Rich foods such as grain or alfalfa can have the same effect: the fermentation gases will build up, and in severe cases can cause bloat.
What is Bloat?
Goats usually pass gas as they digest their food, releasing the fermentation gases. Bloat happens when the gases form in tiny bubbles and the goat is unable to pass them.
Symptoms of Bloat
- When you look at a healthy goat head-on, you should see their abdomen bowed out evenly on each side. If the left side (the rumen side) is extended (i.e., sticking out considerably farther than the right), your goat may have bloat
- When you tap the abdomen, it might feel like a tight, hollow drum
- When bloated, your goat may show signs of pain such as teeth grinding, pawing, moaning, resting their head against a fence, etc.
How Does Baking Soda Help?
Offering your goat baking soda on a daily basis can help balance the pH levels in the rumen (similar to how heartburn relief works in humans).
How Should Baking Soda be Fed?
Baking soda should be placed in its own designated food dish and offered to goats on a free-choice basis. Goats are clever in that they will consume it when they need it and leave it be if they don’t Do not mix baking soda into their feed or minerals. Also be sure to replace it if it gets soiled Be sure to always offer fresh clean water whenever you are giving salts, minerals or baking soda to goats Baking soda is an easy, inexpensive way to ensure that your goats are healthy and happy.
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How can I feed the babkins soda since outside it is too wet and inside the goats and hens will kick over any bowl. What ideas do you have for this?
In reply to How can I feed the babkins… by Toby Cantine
My goat seemed “not hungry” so l smashed up a 1/2 of a baked yam with peanuts, raisins, prunes and baking soda bounded together with some agave nectar (molasses works too) and the tolled these sticky treats in powdered sugar coating. He ate them but turned up he’s nose at small pieces of apples (which he usually loves). After two days of these “treats” he was up again and came out of his shelter go enjoy tge sunshine. He hates rain, so maybe he was hiding and resting from over-eating all weekend.
There are covered mineral feeders for use out in the weather. Inside, look for or make (it may take some ingenuity) a low, heavy vessel that can’t easily be tipped over.
Another option is to top dress their grain
My cost can't stand,nor eat and has grinding teeth what could it be and what to use for treatment thanks
In reply to My cost can't stand,nor eat… by Ayoo
We're having the same problem. Last time this happened our goat passed away.
In reply to My cost can't stand,nor eat… by Ayoo
It sounds like poisoning. Use liquid charcoal as soon as they start acting like that. It’s called Toxiban. Pure black thick charcoal pour it down their throat at least several ounces every hour at first for 3 x & it usually saves their lives if it is any type of poison! If you apply it soon enough! I’ve saved goats a calf & cow that got out & gorged in mountain laurel! Hope it’s not too late & you can save them!
Do you guys deliver to Canada TSC stores. Positive Pellet Goat Dewormer
Do you have any updated information for baking soda use for goats? Getting conflicting info about it being good for your goats and it being bad for them? Does it help prevent bloat? Does it interfere in the rumens process?
my goat is acting off not wanting to move around as usual showing his teeth not eating much what can I do or try
In reply to my goat is acting off not… by Nancy
Could Be bottle jaw and needing cydectin.
i think my goats are having bloating problems, can i give baking powder or what can I do to save the situation..They are too quiet to be normal.
Do I just give the pure baking soda or in some type of liquid?
In reply to Do I just give the pure… by Rosalía
Put the baking soda (no water added) into a separate feeding dish and offer it free choice. Clean/change out baking soda as necessary.
I had my first baby die of bloat today. I'm concerned for everyone right now and I'm going to try the baking soda. It say free choice but can they eat too much of it?
In reply to I had my first baby die of… by TIFFANY DAVIS
I have 2 baby goats about 2 weeks old and 1 3 days old that have the bloat. They were fine at 7:00am feeding and 10:30 am feeding. They live indoors with me in a room just for the 5 babies. I've forgotten how much and when to give the baking soda to them. Year before last I had 10 bottle babies and lost 2 to bloat please help
Love both goats and sheep
Hi there I notice a goat that's neglected is dmsuffering. He's, skinny stopped eating much and laying still.. I've put a, coat on him and have offered an apple which he's eaten.. He's grinding his teeth a bit.. Swollen lower belly towards rear.. Not top region.. Normal faeces although he was scouring last week.. Any ideas what to do?.. Rang vet but lockdown so they saud, probably euthanase
How should i know the right dooze for each goat.
Thanks for the work done.
Thank you very much for the information about feeding my goats with baking soda. Since using it to the goats i do'nt have a problem with bloating.
Well thanks very much about the information, I'm impressed about baking soda as we chat my Ram is suffering from bloating
My goat give birth 3days ago and it look like she still bleeding its coming out like pie. She look really small
Hi there recently my goat has gotten diarrhea and not yelling as much as he used to we gave him another visit and noticed he had part of his cheek swollen we had a goat die from this same symptoms not I sling what he needed to heal please help
Thank you so much for the information about feeding goats baking soda to prevent bloating. Now that we prevent bloating, what's the appropriate time to feed baking soda? Is it in the morning before they go to the fields or after, when their stomachs are full?
My Pigmy goat is about 13yr old, she is fenced in a fairly large area, we live on marsh area that she has access to feed off of, our female goat which she grew up with died with cancer 3yrs ago, hated not to add another but with our health we tried to not have to, & she has done well until this year, had the vet out many times, she is swelling even all around her belly, also she’s had female problems, staying in heat, & passing sticky glue like mucus from her female parts, & now belly on under side is so hard, & top just feels like fluid, doesn’t hurt to mash it but so heavy & big she’s having hard time moving, can’t climb & walk to get her food, I try to bring leaves or bushes she will eat. Vet says not blot, & think rules out hay belly, which it does look like, not worms either. Would like to see my baby able to climb to her favorite spot & play. Her home is in our back yard area, so she knows all that goes on all around her & also we can see her. Sure do love my baby, just can’t afford to have high price test done at hospitals. I do have free choice of baking soda for her,
clean water, clean bedding area. If any one has an idea would appreciate hearing it . Thank you , Susie T.
How much baking soda should I give a 1 month old bottle baby goat?
She seems fine, but she doesn't want her milk. I've tried twice, night and day. She's just not interested in the milk at all. Her tummy looks like she just got fed.
In reply to How much baking soda should… by Lulu
Hey there, have you been able to help your bottle baby goat that had bloat?
Thank you so much for the information I teyed to give him baking soda he sniff it and liked his lips and that was it. I don't want to lose him. So if you have any more things I can do please send my way.