Auscult the Rumen

Abdominal examination begins with assessment of abdominal contour.  Bloat, advanced pregnancy, and ruptured bladder may all cause a distended abdomen.  Older ewes or does that have had multiple pregnancies may exhibit a distended ventral abdomen secondary to chronic stretching of the abdominal musculature.  The mature pygmy goat may always look bloated to the untrained eye.  Ballotment should be helpful in determining the presence of excess gas or fluid within the rumen.  Dorsally the rumen contains gas and should feel quite soft and indentible.  As you progress ventrally the rumen becomes more doughy in consistency as the contents become more fluid in nature.  Normal rumen contractions occur at the rate of 1-2/minute and will be auscultated in the left paralumbar area.  Place your stethoscope in this area and push in allowing yourself to not only hear the contraction but also feel it as the rumen pushes back.  The hair or wool around the perineum should be inspected for the presence of wet or dry fecal material indicating the presence of diarrhea.  The normal small ruminant will spend several hours during the day ruminating (chewing their cud) and will eructate frequently.  Their presence may be determined during history taking and/or the actual physical exam.

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Copyright 1999-2001
New Bolton Center Field Service Department
Students:  Keith Javic - Class of 2003, C. Nikki Conroy - Class of 2003