Sunday, August 21, 2011


While we were gone camping, a calf bloated.

Calves sometimes bloat. That is, their stomachs puff up really, really big. If you don't deflate them, they can die. The distended rumen presses up against the diaphragm and suffocates them.

There are tons of reasons why a calf might bloat. Basically, the rate of gas production exceeds the calf's ability to expel it. Some possible reasons are: illness, weather change, diet change, excess stomach acid, or irregular feed intake. (Interested? There's much more about bloating here.) After reading that, you wonder why they don't bloat every day! Luckily, it's pretty rare - it happens only a few times a year.

Kris explained to me what he does - and what my dad did yesterday. First, you get the calf to where you can hold her, like in a headlock. Second, you take an IV needle and stick it into her side. Then you have to squeeze the calf and work out all of the gas, as it escapes from the exit you've made with the needle.

I'm sorry I don't have pictures of it, too. If you google bloated calf, you can see some images what it looks like, alongside a lot of people stretching their calf muscles, as well as people holding their very full stomachs. Just like they just got back from vacation, too.

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