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Goat Health Conditions and Pregnancy Toxemia / Ketosis

Pregnancy toxemia in goats occurs when a pregnant goat runs out of fat reserves in the body and cannot eat enough to replenish due to pressure on the goat's rumen caused by the fetus. Goats that contract pregnancy toxemia have a build-up of compounds called ketones that are released from the body by breaking down fat molecules. When a large amount of fat is being broken down rapidly, the body releases a large amount of ketones. Too many ketones in the blood are toxic to a goat and can cause the goat to go into a coma.

Symptoms of pregnancy toxemia include:

  • Apathy
  • Loss of appetite
  • Decreased milk production (if post-birth)
  • Rough hair
  • Disorientation

If you think your goat has developed pregnancy toxemia, contact your veterinarian to get treatment as soon as possible.

How to Prevent Ketosis or Pregnancy Toxemia in Goats

To prevent ketosis or pregnancy toxemia in a pregnant or lactating goat, feed more of a high-energy concentrate and reduce the ratio of hay in the animal's diet. Be sure to gradually make this dietary change to prevent other conditions in goats that are caused by sudden changes in diet. Grains are much higher in energy and take up less room in the goat's rumen. This will allow the goat to continue energy absorption throughout the pregnancy without having to pull too much fat from reserves.

You can also change the frequency of feeding during pregnancy so that you are feeding smaller meals more often throughout the day. This will help the goat digest and absorb more energy from the feed and replenish fat reserves in the goat's body.

Finally, pay attention to which goats seem to be prone to pregnancy toxemia and ketosis, and keep a record of these goats so you can monitor their feeding ratios more closely during the next pregnancy.