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The goat barn: Be alert for ketosis.

This metabolic disease can kill pregnant does -- quickly

Be alert for ketosis, now that you've got a barn full of pregnant does -- or even just one pregnant doe. Ketosis, often called "pregnancy toxemia," is a metabolic disease which can kill does quickly during the last two months of pregnancy.

The doe goes off feed, looks droopy. Then she has trouble with her legs, and she goes "down" and she can't get up. She dies within a day or two.

Doe refuses her grain

If a pregnant doe refuses her grain, suspect ketosis. Immediately drench her with four ounces of propylene glycol. That's an artificial sugar sold in many farm stores as "ketosis cure." Don't wait to see if she will get better on her own. She may be "down" by the next feeding and it may be too late.

Ketosis is caused by low blood sugar. Those fast-growing fetal kids demand more nutrients than the doe can supply. Her metabolism goes haywire and she's hit by low sugar in the bloodstream and there are ketones which can be detected in the urine and milk. Propylene glycol is a fast-acting artificial sugar and it gets into the blood quickly.

Don't wait to see what happens

Don't wait around to see if the pregnant doe will start eating again without treatment. She is only going to get worse or stay sickly.

The chances are very high that ketosis is the problem any time a doe in late pregnancy goes off feed. It won't hurt the doe to drench her with propylene glycol "just in case" and you may save a valuable animal.

The doe's temperature will probably be normal (102 [degrees] to 103 [degrees]) or even a bit below normal. Ketosis doesn't cause a fever. But you can get ketosis together with pneumonia and there's a fever plus low blood sugar.

Treat the doe with propylene glycol twice a day from the first time she goes off feed until she is completely back to normal or the kids are born. You may have to keep up the treatments for a couple of days. If she doesn't look and act somewhat better within 12 hours, call the veterinarian.

Once the doe is "down" you have about a 50-50 chance of saving her. Glucose, given intraperitoneally very slowly, is recommended.

In an emergency, when you don't have propylene glycol on hand and can't get any quickly, you can treat a doe with glycerin, molasses or brown sugar dissolved in water. Any sugar is better than no sugar at all -- and may do the trick when the ketosis is just starting. But propylene glycol is much better -- a bottle of it and a "turkey baster" for drenching should be part of the supplies in your goat barn medicine cabinet.

(Reprinted from Dairy Goat Guide, A former Countryside publication, January, 1979.)
COPYRIGHT 1999 Countryside Publications Ltd.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1999 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Countryside & Small Stock Journal
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Nov 1, 1999
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