Milk Fever

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Milk Fever

Parturient Paresis, Hypocalcemia


Causes:Goat Herd

  • When about to kid, the affected doe is unable to make a normal release of calcium stored in the bones for the production of milk. Because calcium cannot be obtained from the bones, she will use the calcium available in her bloodstream. When this calcium level drops to a critical level, symptoms of milk fever appear.

Symptoms:

  • With milk fever, the doe walks with wobbly gait or with foot dragging.
  • She may be constipated or too weak to deliver kids.
  • Occasionally, the goat will not be able to stand and will be depressed. Keep the doe’s head slightly elevated and to one side so that if she vomits, fluid will not enter her lungs.
  • Laboratory confirmation of diagnosis is shown by a decreased serum calcium level, usually below 6 mg/100 ml.

Transmission:

  • This is most commonly seen when excessive levels of calcium are fed late in pregnancy.

Treatment:

  • Treatment consists of a slow and cautious IV dose of 25% calcium borogluconate solution; usually 50 to 100 ml. If the product label indicates, half of this dose may be given intravenously (IV) and the other half subcutaneously (SQ) to reduce likelihood of heart block from the intravenous calcium. The response will be slower but almost as effective. Extreme caution should be used if intravenous calcium is being given. Feel the heart or listen for an increased or severely decreased rate while the solution is going into the goat.

Prevention:Goat with Kid

  • Feed the doe a relatively low calcium diet during the final 30 days before birth.
  • For example, feed only grass hay and alfalfa or other legumes.
  • This diet forces a hormone release to remove calcium this is stored in the bone, and the mechanism will be working well when the doe needs the calcium to make milk. After the kids are born, resume feeding the regular high calcium diet, including alfalfa hay.

References:

Source 1:

  • Faerber, C.W., McNeal, L., Harding, R.L., Hill, K.L., Merriam, J. and Durrant, S.M., 2009.Small Ruminant Production Medicine and Management (Sheep and Goats). Animal Health Publications, Brigham City, UT.

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