Digestive Disorders in Ruminants – Bloat, Constipation & Impaction

Hariom and Sonu, LUVAS, Hisar
Hariom and Sonu, LUVAS, Hisar

A regular cleaning of bowels of the cattles or any animal helps in maintenance of good health. In fact expulsion of excreta (waste material) from the system on a daily basis is an integral part of normal physiological function. Quite often, there is an “irregular bowel movement” due to various reasons, which results in Digestive disturbances such as Bloat, Constipation and Impaction.

When such conditions remain unattended, then it over a period of time it becomes acute and chronic which hampers entire digestive system that gives rise to many diseases, animal is then rendered sick and completely unhealthy. Sometimes it may cause death of the animal aslo. Therefore treatment of Blot, Constipation and Impaction is essential.

Bloat occurs when too much gas is produced in the rumen. The left flank becomes distended and breathing becomes difficult. This may happen suddenly, especially when the animal is grazing on wet pasture in the morning. It may cause sudden death.

Patho-physiology -The stomach of ruminant animals produces a lot of gas. The animals continually belch, once each minute, to get rid of the gas. Occasionally belching stops and gas builds up in the rumen to cause Bloat.

Factors Responsible for Bloat

  • Grazing on lush young pasture, particularly when the pasture is wet.

  • Some plants, such as Clover, Lucerne and Alfalfa are especially dangerous in causing Bloat.

  • Ruminants kept by the household are given only feed such as dry bread

  • tympany occurs because large pieces of feed block the oesophagus.

Signs & Symptoms

  • The left flank balloons out as the gas builds up.

  • The pain due to gases causes the animal to kick its belly or stand with its back legs wide apart.

  • Difficulty in breathing.

  • The animal may be in distress for several hours.

  • In bad cases of Bloat the animal will be found lying on its side and death can occur in a few hours.

Constipation is a condition where there is “irregular bowl movement” due ingestion of various indigestible feed resulting in infrequent or difficulty in defecation of accumulated and hardened stools. A chronic Constipation leads to Impaction.

Factors Responsible:

  • Excess feeding of roughage (Fibre, Cellulose and Bran) which is low in Protein and Energy.

  • Consumption of excessive quantity of Concentrate ration

  • Consumption of indigestible feed

  • Inadequate water intake

  • Ingestion of Plastic Bags, Dust, Sand and Reptiles

  • Licking of hair and wool

  • Abrupt change in Diet

Signs & Symptoms 

  • Lack of appetite

  • Lethargy

  • Distension of stomach

  • Hard and foul smelling Faecal matter with a reduced quantity


Impaction is bowel obstruction that can occur in various kinds of animals when they consume something that they cannot digest. For example, in livestock, rough fodder such as straw can risk impaction. Once the substance is ingested it will block the digestive tract and, if untreated, cause death.

Factors Responsible

  • Decreased water intake during winter

  • Fed poor-quality of roughage.

  • Cattle are fed a variety of mixed rations containing chopped or ground roughage (straw, hay) and cereal grains.

  • Dairy cows are on similar feeds in the late-pregnancy.

  • Cattle are fed hay or silage on sandy soils, or root crops that are sandy or dirty.

Signs & Symptoms

  • Complete anorexia due to Impaction

  • Cessation of defecation,

  • Sub acute abdominal pain with

  • Disinclination to move or lie down.

  • An empty rectum.

  • Reduction in the milk yield.

  • Increased heart rate in some cases

  • Mild dehydration is common.

  • leukocytosis with neutrophilia and lymphocytopenia.

Approach Required

  • Correcting the suspected dietary factors

  • Providing Rumenotonic Drugs

  • Correction of Ruminal pH


  • To provide safe and effective Laxatives that can eliminate gases, soften the hardened stool, increase intestinal motility and offer lubrication.

  • To provide the necessary hydration.



Department of Veterinary Gynaecology and Obstetrics,

LUVAS, Hisar, Haryana, India


Department of Veterinary Medicine,

LUVAS, Hisar, Haryana, India

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