Goat Ketosis

Ketosis is a metabolic condition also called pregnancy toxemia at the end of gestation and lactational ketosis during early lactation. The central metabolic event is fat mobilization from body stores to maintain normal blood glucose levels during times of high energy demands. The disease in late gestation does is classified by multiple fetuses, obese or extremely thin does due to an inability to respond to the increased metabolic demand for energy in the dam. The doe is unable to obtain sufficient amounts of energy, and toxic ketones accumulate in the blood due to the fat metabolism process.

Lactational ketosis is rare in goats.

Signs: Signs of ketosis include depression, lack of appetite and decrease in milk production if lactating. The goat’s breath will have a sweet smell, which some humans can detect. Urine tests with ketone strips will be positive for ketone bodies. Fecal output is reduced to a few small, dry pellets. Other signs can include teeth grinding, dull eyes, recumbency, blindness, star gazing, tremors, coma and death. 

Treatment: Treatment consists of increasing the energy density of the diet. This can be accomplished by feeding good-quality roughage and increased concentrate in early stages. Administer propylene glycol or Ketoplus two to three times per day. Propylene glycol may be toxic at high and repeated doses. Limit to 60cc/dose in a dam that is eating, and discontinue if she goes off feed. Supplement with a mixture of sodium bicarbonate given twice daily. Alternative treatment may consist of Calf Pac/Probios mixed with 100cc Revive (one bottle 50% dextrose, 20cc B-complex, 5cc B-12, 2cc 500 mg/ml thiamine), and 100cc of water. Corn, molasses, sweet feed and/or corn syrup can also be administered to increase caloric intake. If there is no response to treatment within 24 hours, a veterinarian should be contacted for more aggressive treatment.

Aggressive treatment consists of inducing labor or delivery of kids via C-section; the kids are often non-viable, but this may be the only treatment of choice for saving the dam. Force feeding and maintaining appetite are critical. Snatching a cud from healthy goats to feed to sick goats can be useful. Boer goats may be predisposed to this condition.

Control/Prevention: Prevent obesity in pregnant does. Gradually increase the energy content of the ration in the last 6 weeks of pregnancy. Provide good sanitation, ventilation, and proper exercise. Allow does free exercise for two to three hours per day.

Early diagnosis of pregnancy and selective feeding of dams with multiple fetuses to maintain adequate body condition score (BCS) is important. Conduct regular BCS of the herd. Avoid excessive weight loss during pregnancy and improve BCS of thin does. Early recognition of clinical signs is key to successful intervention.

Keywords: Ketosis, pregnancy toxemia, gestation

Reference: Mary C. Smith & David Sherman: Goat Medicine