Stages of bloat?

Help Support CattleToday:


Well-known member
Jul 1, 2004
Reaction score
East of Dallas Texas
One of my 11 mo old Angus steers would not come to the feed trough tonight. I went over and made him get up and noticed his left side seemed a little more full than normal, and his breathing seemed slightly labored. I left the pen gate open for the calves to come out and went up to the house to see what I could find out about bloat. 15 minutes later I went back to the pen and he and the other steers were out and playing but his left side still seemed slightly larger. I hope I am just being a nervous nelly about this but what are the stages, time frames and treatments at a given stage.

Him and the other steers have been on corn chops and free choice hay for months. The only change to their diet recently was a new roll of hay they started last weekend. The new roll is coastal hay. Previously thay had been eating hay of a lesser quality. Could this have prompted a bloat episode?

This calf is 3 weeks away from becoming freezer beef so I was thinking that if he were to go down tomorrow (Sunday) I might be better off just ending it, cleaning him and putting him in the freezer. The problem is I've never actually cleaned a calf before. I've cleaned deer though. Is it similar?

I've read that placing a tube down their throat into the rumen to release gas or administer about 8 ounces of mineral oil are treatments. Another treatment is inserting a large needle throught the flank to release gas. However, I don't have a squeeze chute to hold him. Are these treatments supposed to be used when he is to weak to put up a fight?

As far as the vet option goes, without a sqeeze chute to hold the calf it doesn't seem like the vet could do anything here, or if he would even come out or to the office on Sunday. It wasn't clear from my reading how much time elapses in this age calf between bloat onset and last rights. If he is bloating will he last untill monday? How often does a bloated calf work through it on his own?
Doug, I don't know what all you've checked out for info, but Merck represents one of the best resources available, in my opinion. If you haven't looked at the Merck, here's a link to their section on ruminant bloat:

Merck on Ruminant Bloat

What you've described doesn't sound very bad to me, but then I haven't seen it either. Let him get some exercise, even if it requires you walking him around the pen for a while, and see what it looks like then. Possible that he ate a little bit too much of the better quality hay. Let us know what he looks like after moving around some this morning.

Sorry it took so long for you to get a response. Hopefully, it will not be a serious case of bloat and you are just being overly cautious. Let us know.
Thanks for the great link Texan.

The last sentance of the 1st paragraph on the link you sent me states that bloat "...can occur when high quality hay is fed".

Dadburnit. I guess I better move that coastal roll away from their pen and get a lesser quality roll for the steers.

This morning his side still seemed extended a bit but he seemed to be moving around okay. I left him and the others out for exercize today and didn't feed them any grain. This eveing the left side seems to have gone back to what looks normal, and his breathing appears normal again. He seems to be moving around a little slow though and laying down more than the others, but he gets right up when I walk up to him.

The Merick stuff and other reading I've done seem to indicate rather short periods of time between onset and death so hopefully, the calf has worked thru it. I plan to call the vet in the moring anyway.

Thanks again

Latest posts