Attention! This is a potentially life-threatening condition for your goat. Time is of the essence, contact your veterinarian immediately.

Rumen Acidosis

Grain Overload, Lactic Acidosis

Rumen acidosis is a gastrointestinal condition which occurs in ruminants due to a lowered rumen pH. Goats on forage-based diets have a normal rumen pH between 6-7. When it drops below 6, which is often the case when on grain-based, low-forage diets, it helps support the growth of lactic acid-producing bacteria leading to acidosis. The microbial population within the goat's rumen is unable to metabolize high levels of lactic acid produced during starch breakdown.

The severity of the condition and resulting clinical signs vary depending on the extent of the decrease in pH. A pH of less than 5.6 is associated with subacute, mild to moderate acidosis; where a pH of less than 5.2 is associated with an acute onset of severe acidosis. Severe cases of acidosis is often associated with or leads to the development of laminitis, polioencephalomalacia, and liver abscesses.


Loss of appetite
Reduced or infrequent passage of manure
Lack of manure passage
Soft, gray and foamy feces
Diarrhea (often watery and discolored)
Teeth grinding
Muscle twitching


  • History
  • Clinical signs
  • Physical exam

Treatment Options

Treatment TypeDetails
Magnesium hydroxide50g PO for an adult goat
Tetracycline0.5–1 g PO (single dose)
Thiamine300–500 mg IM or SC BID


  • Make any diet changes slowly, over a course of 10 to 14 days
  • Supplement diet with dietary buffers, such as limestone or calcium carbonate, to neutralize any acid that may be present in the rumen.
  • Feeding of ionophores
  • Limit amount of feed offered
  • Increasing forage and reducing grain in diet
  • Direct fed microbial supplements
  • Keep grain stored in an area that is not able to be accessed by goats


Prognosis depends on the severity


    Risk Factors

    • Recently moved from pasture into feedlot with grain-based diet
    • High-grain diet
    • High intake of fermentable carbohydrates
    • High-starch feeds (usually corn-based)
    • Use of self-feeders

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