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goat keeping, health information

Milk Fever

Milk Fever
(Hypocalcaemia)

Milk fever is a misnomer. It is not a fever, and doesn't always have to do with milk production. It is actually low blood calcium, which is known as hypocalcaemia. The goat may have plenty of calcium in her bones and in the diet, but due to a sudden increase in calcium and phosphorus requirements (due to impending kidding or lactation) she is unable to reabsorb the calcium she needs from her bones or absorb it from her diet.

It is important to note that hypocalcaemia is not only relative in immediate pre/post kidding situations. Many people think it can happen only to heavy milkers right before or right after kidding. This is not the case. Milk fever runs in heavy milk lines, but the doe dose not have to be in heavy milk, or milking at all, to come down with milk fever.

Also see Ketosis

Clinical Signs:

The doe seems weak.
Decrease in appetite
Mild bloat or constipation
The doe is wobbly on her feet.
Inability to stand.
Muscular trembling.
Weakened uterine contractions
Decreased body temperature.
The doe may stop ruminating, urinating or defecating.
Shivering after milking

Prevention:

  • Exercise & proper nutrition.
  • Offer a good loose mineral mix with 2:1 calcium:phosphorous at all times.
  • Feed 5-6 Tums to the doe each day, starting two weeks before kidding and continuing after freshening.
  • Feed more alfalfa, which contains a lot of calcium.
  • Add some calcium citrate powder, or other human calcium suppliments to her daily grain ration.

Be aware that if a doe shivers after milking, this could be a sign that she needs more calcium.

Treatment:

A vet may give 50 to 100 ml of 25% calcium borogluconate intravenously, but this is very dangerous for inexperienced goat keepers and death can result.

Calcium Gluconate 23% Solution: 8 to 12 oz. given orally. Repeat 5-8 oz, three times a day until the doe is eating and symptoms are subsiding.
or
Calcium Gluconate 23% Solution: 40 cc injected over her ribs. The injections should be broken down into 3 or 4 injections and given in different sites. The injections should be given slowly.

If the doe is lying on her side, prop her up with a bale of hay so that she is laying on her breastbone (normally). This prevents rumen fluid from entering her lungs and prevents bloat from developing

If you are milking the doe, do not take too much milk for the next few milkings.

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