- Pregnancy toxemia occurs only within the last few weeks or days of pregnancy. It is usually seen when the doe is carrying two or more kids, or when the doe is very fat. This disease is caused by the sudden extra demand for energy by the fast-growing kids in the pregnant goat. Because the uterus containing the kids, fluids, and membranes requires increasing amounts of space inside the doe, she has less room to hold freed than if she were in better condition. In either case, the end is less available space for feed intake. To keep the kids alive, the doe will metabolize or break down her own body resources to maintain the pregnancy. This rapid breakdown of body stores produces ketones (a toxic by-product) and the symptoms of the disease.
- Does with pregnancy toxemia are depressed, weak, and have poor muscle control and balance late in pregnancy. Later they lie down and are unable to rise. Death follows within a few days. After lying down, their symptoms often resemble those of milk fever. If treated for milk fever, they will respond for a few hours in most cases and then relapse. This is because the products sold for milk fever contain 20% or more simple sugars, which will give temporary improvement. Early in the disease, many does will show a positive test for ketone bodies in the urine. Such test kits are often available and easy to use.
- Do not allow fat does to lose weight in late pregnancy. Try to keep them from becoming overly fat earlier in the pregnancy.
- If the doe lies down and cannot stand, treatment is usually not successful unless she delivers at that time. Treatment with propylene glycol at 60 to 90 ml (2 to 3 oz) twice a day will help, as will treatment with corticosteroids and adding grain to the ration. Cesarean section to deliver the kids early will sometimes save the doe and the kids if they are near term.
- As a preventive measure, do not let the doe get fat early in pregnancy. Do not add a great quantity of molasses to the feed. Grain (primarily corn or sorghum) or grain by-products are a much better source of energy and cause less indigestion. Oats are high in fiber and are not as good as corn or sorghum (milo). The last 4 to 6 weeks of pregnancy the doe will require .47 to .90 kg (1 to 2 lbs) of good quality grain or grain by-products and grass or good quality hay. If she is very large, or has a history of having three to five kids, this diet will not be sufficient and should be increased 50 to 100%. Protein requirements should also be balanced, but protein level is not related to pregnancy toxemia.
- Thedford, Thomas R. Goat Health Handbook: A Field Guide for Producers with Limited Veterinary Services. Morrilton, AR: Winrock International, 1983. Print.
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