In this complete guide to pregnancy toxemia in goats, we answer the most common questions that farmers ask about this serious condition, including what it is, symptoms, treatments, and more.
Table of contents
What Is Pregnancy Toxemia in Goats?
It is a metabolic ailment of pregnant goats, and other ruminants occur due to abnormal metabolism of fats and carbohydrates that happens in the last stage of the pregnancy. This disorder occurs all over the world and is a fatal disorder if it happened during that last stage of the pregnancy. This disorder is featured by the development of a low level of sugar within the blood.
Before delivering the kids, the fetus will make the goat intake high calorie that supports the female goats and the fetus inside the goat. The goat will break the body fat to fulfil the body requirements, thus resulting in the production of the ketones.
After kidding, there are some chances of development of ketosis, especially for the dairy goats. The ketosis and pregnancy toxemia are closely related to each other and special care is required during the pregnancy.
What Causes Pregnancy Toxemia in Goats?
The primary cause of pregnancy toxemia is the disturbance in the level of sugar or carbohydrates metabolism. Glucose is also essential for the muscles while exercise, but the main advantage of glucose is during pregnancy. The fetus will remove a larger quantity of amino acids and glucose to fulfil their energy requirements as well as for their own growth.
Initially, the glucose level concentration in the blood becomes 30mg/100ml and then later on it becomes 10mg/100 ml. Since sugar or glucose is a vital thing for the brain to function correctly. The deficiency or lack of glucose will lead to the dysfunction of the nerves and result in coma and then the death of the animals.
The requirements of energy by the pregnant female goats are compounded, especially for the female goats that are carrying multiple fetuses. The fetuses compress the rumen of the female goat, and the female goat cannot eat properly to fulfil all the energy requirements she needs during the last month of the pregnancy.
As a result of this improper feeding, the female goat will rely on the body reserves of the fat to fulfil the energy requirements. The goat will metabolize a large quantity of the body fat that results in the production of ketones within the blood. These ketones have toxic effects on the body of goats if it remained in a more significant amount. Thus the goat will start to exhibit the signs of pregnancy toxemia.
Symptoms of Pregnancy Toxemia in Goats
A keen farmer can observe the early signs and symptoms of pregnancy toxemia. Most of the pregnancy toxemia cases occur one to three weeks before parturition. If the pregnancy toxemia occurs earlier than 140 days of the gestation period, then the severity of pregnancy toxemia is more intense, and there will be more chances of death. Decreased feeding especially the consumption of grains, is the initial indication of pregnancy toxemia.
The goats having pregnancy toxemia will lay down for more time as compared to the herd-mates. The female goats will start showing the signs like aimless walking, listlessness, twitching of the muscles, tremors of the muscles, teeth grinding, star grazing and spam of muscles that may cause the backward stretching of the head.
As the disease advances, the goat will further show the signs like uncontrolled walking, blindness, laying on ribs, coma and eventually death. The glucose level in the blood of the female goat may become normal or even goes higher than normal. This higher glucose level will lead to the death of the fetus and cause infection in the blood of the female goat. The contamination leads to the death of the female goat.
How Do You Treat Toxemia in Goats
As during the early stage of pregnancy toxemia the goats become off feed or show less interest in the pasture, then it is better to drench them orally with propylene glycol at the dose rate of 60ml twice a day for three consecutive days.
Addition of calcium, potassium, insulin will increase the chances of survival of the goats. Some oral electrolytes products are available in the market than can be given through the stomach tube. This solution of electrolytes may cause abortion however, it is better to safe the female goat. Administration of steroids will also induce parturition.
The prognosis or the chances of survival of the female goats having advance cases of pregnancy toxemia is very poor. Therefore, it is better to euthanatize the goat and focus on the rest of the goat. Nevertheless, aggressive treatment is required to safe the goats with advance pregnancy toxemia.
Before initiating any aggressive treatment, make sure that the fetus is alive through ultrasound. If the fetus is alive, then the best option is to perform the C-section as soon as possible keeping in mind the gestation period of 147 days. If the fetus is no more or premature, then inject dexamethasone to remove the fetus. Make sure to use antibiotics like penicillin to avoid secondary infection within the goats.
Preventing Pregnancy Toxemia in Goats
One of the significant factors of pregnancy toxemia to occur is the nutrition of pregnant goats. The gestation period is shorter in goats as compared to the other ruminants; therefore, the fetus of the goats requires more glucose and nutrients, especially during the last two months of the pregnancy. According to studies, almost eighty percent of the fetus growth takes places in the last six weeks of the gestation period.
The prevention of pregnancy toxemia is thus possible by providing better management and nutrition to the goats. The goats in the last stages of pregnancy require almost fifty percent more feed as compared to the other goats. If twins are present, then the goat requires around 75% of the feed. However, twins may compress the rumen; therefore, concentrates may help the goats to fulfil the requirement.
Ionophores (chemicals that bind ions) increase the feed efficiency by altering the population of microflora in the rumen, thus increasing the effectiveness of the feed and fulfilling the requirement of the goats.