White Oak Farm
During kidding season, I am often contacted with questions about pregnancy toxemia. This prompted me to create a blog to address this and many other questions I get regarding goat care and management. Pregnancy toxemia (ketosis) is the condition where the pregnant doe appears lethargic, sluggish, and often goes “off feed”. Unfortunately, the doe can die from this condition if left untreated.
What causes pregnancy toxemia?
Pregnancy toxemia typically develops in does carrying multiple kids. The kids are drawing on the does resources and depleting her of her energy. As her uterus expands to accommodate the growing fetuses, her rumen has less room to function resulting in pregnancy toxemia. Her condition is further compromised if at the start of breeding season the doe was excessively fat.
How can I treat pregnancy toxemia?
When most goat producers contact me, the doe is at a critical stage. She is off feed and in some cases unable to stand. The only cure for a doe with pregnancy toxemia is delivery of her kids. If she is close to her due date, you could induce her labor with the use of oxytocin under your veterinarian’s direction. If death is potentially eminent, your veterinarian may need to perform an emergency caesarian.
If the doe is not at such a critical stage or not due to kid for a few weeks, it becomes an issue of care and maintenance. When a doe goes off feed, you need to provide her the nutrition and hydration to keep her alive until closer to kidding. You can use an adult nutrition product like Ensure to drench the doe 16-24 ounces daily (2 to 3 cans). Administering propylene glycerol, goat power punch, or goat nutri-drench also aids in providing her with energy. I have also drenched does with warm water and molasses to hydrate the doe. Using Pedialyte for children is another way to provide hydration and includes electrolytes. If the doe can stand, it is best to get her up everyday so additional complications, like pneumonia, don’t develop.
When a doe is not off feed but becoming lethargic, it is time to make sure the feed she is getting is a high source of energy. In other words, make every bite count! Hay at this stage, should be used sparingly.
How can I prevent pregnancy toxemia?
Once you have experienced pregnancy toxemia in your herd you never want to experience it again. On our own farm, we use the following practices that work for us. During breeding season, our goats are on pasture with free choice hay and loose mineral. The goats are on a worming program and treated in 75 day intervals. The hooves are trimmed, every time they are wormed, so that the does are sound on their feet and can get exercise to avoid becoming excessively fat. We don’t start grain until the last 6-8 weeks of pregnancy to bring them along and avoid pregnancy toxemia. Does are fed in groups according to their due dates and body conditioning.
Consult your veterinarian to see if these practices might work for you.