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Metabolic diseases are those that involve the lack of or unusual breakdown of physical and chemical processes in the body.


Each of these conditions is related to feeding.


  • This occurs when goats overeat easily digested feed with high levels of starch or sugar, including grains, grain by-products (brewer’s waste or germ), and vegetable parts. The pH of the rumen will change to an acid state, usually below 5. The animal may bloat, refuse to ear, develop a severe diarrhea, and become dehydrated (eyes sink into head and skin loses elasticity). Pain is exhibited by grinding of the teeth. Rumen motility will stop and the rumen will feel watery. The animal will weaken, stagger, and be unable to stand. If not treated, the goat usually dies in 1 to 2 days. Treatment consists of using a stomach tube to administer oil and a mixture of charcoal and sodium bicarbonate (see Techniques and Therapy). Surgical clean-out of the rumen is required in many cases, only with aid of a veterinarian.


  • This is usually a mild form of acidosis. Symptoms include lack of rumen motility, loss of appetite, and decreased milk production. Some charcoal-bicarbonate mixtures and a milk laxative, like milk of magnesia (45 to 60 ml) or magnesium sulfate (Epsom salts, 15 to 30 g mixed in 100-200 cc of water), will usually correct the problem when given by mouth or with a stomach tube (see Techniques and Therapy)


  • Impaction occurs when poor quality roughage is consumed faster than it is broken down by the digestive process in the rumen and passed on through the digestive tract. Sudden changes in the type of feed will slow passage of the material through the rumen and can also cause impaction or indigestion. Correcting rumen impaction almost always requires a surgical procedure (rumenotomy) and the services of a veterinarian.


  • Choking is not common in goats, unless they are feeding on vegetable or fruit waste. If a stomach tube is gently passed down the throat, the obstruction can usually be pushed into the rumen. IF the tube procedure fails contact a veterinarian for surgery.


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