How to prevent recurring ketosis?

Discussion in 'Health & Wellness' started by Feira426, Dec 19, 2019.

  1. Feira426

    Feira426 Active Member

    206
    Dec 11, 2019
    Texas
    I have had my Mini Nubian doe May for three years now, and every winter she develops what seems to be the same condition. She refuses to eat, stands away from the herd, doesn't move around much... even that very first winter, with my extremely limited goat experience (she and her mate, Kombucha, were my first goats), I could tell right away something was wrong.

    That first time it happened, I put her in the back of my SUV and drove her to the nearest goat vet. The vet checked several things and couldn't figure out what was wrong... until May squatted and peed. The vet tested the pee and told me May was in ketosis.

    I've done a bit of reading about ketosis since having this experience, and if I'm remembering right, a doe usually goes into ketosis when she's not getting enough nutrients from her food to nourish herself and her babies, either because (1) food is scarce, (2) there are multiple babies and it's difficult for her to consume enough nutrients for everyone, even when food is plentiful, or (3) the goat was very fat during the early days of her pregnancy (I'm not sure how that causes ketosis, but supposedly it does).

    Here's the conundrum. As far as I know, none of those conditions applied to May. She was pregnant, but only with one kid, and the vet said her body condition was good, which makes me think she was neither starving nor eating more than she should have been. So... yeah, I really don't know why she went into ketosis. The vet gave me some PG, suggested I start giving her a quarter of a flake of alfalfa every day (I had previously read somewhere that it wasn't good for non-lactating goats to eat alfalfa, so I wasn't giving her any at the time) and sent me on my way.

    It was a real struggle getting that PG down her throat, (and now I know why, after reading some stuff about it on here) but we managed, and to be fair it did get her back to normal fairly quickly. I've since learned that I can fix her up with some molasses or other sugary something instead. She doesn't offer to take it voluntarily or anything. Ha! Nothing so easy as that! I still have to force it down her throat with one of those syringey tube things. But from my limited reading on the subject I've concluded it's less bad for her, plus it saves me a vet bill and it saves May the stress of traveling and being away from her herd. So win-win.

    Anyway. The issue here is that May has developed what seems to be that same condition maybe about six different times now. I'm not going to claim that I know it's ketosis - reading articles about it online has only made me less certain, as some of them say ketosis happens only AFTER delivery when a doe is lactating, and that when a doe exhibits the same symptoms during pregnancy the condition is pregnancy toxemia, but then other articles seem to disagree. I mean, my vet called it ketosis, but I don't really know that vet and I know enough to know vets aren't always right. So...

    I'm straying from the point. Sorry. It's very late here and I'm very tired. My question is, what is going on with my goat and how can I prevent this from happening to her? She's got the same thing happening again right now. I'm in the process of "fixing" her by forcing honey down her throat a couple times a day and taking her the few foods she will nibble on (acorns, carrots, rose leaves, oak leaves). I'm confident now that I can get her well again, but I'd like to prevent this altogether if possible. We are going out of town for a couple of days after Christmas and I'm worried. If she goes into ketosis - or whatever it is - while I'm gone I don't know what will happen. I'm not sure I know anyone who would be willing to try to hold her and make her swallow honey or molasses, and even if someone was willing, I'm not sure I want to risk being responsible for someone getting hurt trying to fix my broken goat.

    Does anyone here have experience with this? What can I try to help her stay in normal digestion mode? Maybe there's something I can feed her to give her extra energy? The really weird thing is, I don't even think she's pregnant this year. I sold our only buck. There's a chance he might have bred her before I sold him, but I think it was too early. She's a fall breeder and I sold him in the first week of September.

    Oh, she gets plenty of exercise - she's in a big pasture with my other four goats and my two horses. About three acres of freedom. She gets about a quarter of a flake of alfalfa a day, which was what my vet recommended that time I took her in, plus lots of grass hay now that the pasture and browse is all dormant. Plus a few handfuls of MFM lactating goat and kid pellets twice per day (they contain copper, selenium, and cobalt sulfate, which I've gathered are important) and a handful or two of grain (I'm currently using whole oats), and sometimes a bit of my horse's senior feed because she likes it, and occasionally she decides she doesn't want to eat the MFM pellets and I need her to stand still while I milk her, and my equine vet said it wouldn't hurt her. She also has a natural salt/mineral block but I've just learned that it might be better to get loose minerals for the goats, so I might get some of that soon. I don't know. I've seen them use the block so I'm not totally convinced I need to switch to be honest. Gonna do more research on that.

    But yeah. That's all the info I can think to offer. If anyone can help I'd really appreciate it so much!!!

    Edited to add that I have five goats right now and none of the others have ever had these symptoms. They all share the same pasture and have the same diet (except only the milkers get the grain and pellets).
     
    Last edited: Dec 19, 2019
  2. ksalvagno

    ksalvagno Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    I'd start with getting ketone strips from the pharmacy and test her urine.
     
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  3. SalteyLove

    SalteyLove Well-Known Member

    Jun 18, 2011
    New England
    Yes, start with the ketone strips. You get them from the human pharmacy. Sometimes they are behind the counter but they don't required a prescription.

    I wouldn't worry about the difference between Pregnancy Toxemia or Ketosis too much, they happen at different times but ultimately the treatment is the same.

    Based on what you have described, I do think May is not getting enough calories or calcium for a lactating doe. I'm surprised she maintains good body condition through all this! Could you weigh her daily ration of MDM and whole oats and horse feed and tell us about how much she is getting?

    So each time she has developed toxemia/ketosis has been close to her due date before kidding? Or she sometimes has developed it after kidding? Does she normally raise the kids? When do you begin milking and how much does she give? Do the kids remain on her when you milk?

    About how much does May weigh?
    I would start by increasing her alfalfa ration and yes getting loose minerals for sure.

    Could you post some photos of May?
     
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  4. lovinglife

    lovinglife Active Member

    930
    Jun 6, 2013
    Southern Idaho
    Can you post a picture of her?
     
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  5. toth boer goats

    toth boer goats Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Jul 20, 2008
    Corning California
  6. Feira426

    Feira426 Active Member

    206
    Dec 11, 2019
    Texas
    I got one. I’m not sure how to get pictures onto a post but it looked to be on the negative/trace end of the spectrum. That said, she has started pooping again and has been nibbling a few things. I don’t know how ketosis works exactly, so I’m not sure if she’s already recovered enough to not have ketones in her urine anymore, or if maybe it just never quite got that bad. Or if it’s something else completely.
     
  7. Feira426

    Feira426 Active Member

    206
    Dec 11, 2019
    Texas
    I would love to, but I haven’t worked out how to do that. Can anyone give instructions on posting pictures here?
     
  8. Feira426

    Feira426 Active Member

    206
    Dec 11, 2019
    Texas
    Yes, always during pregnancy, though not necessarily very close to kidding time.

    She has never had these symptoms while lactating and not pregnant. Unless that’s what’s happening right now, but at the moment I wouldn’t say lactation is demanding much, as she’s only milking about ten squirts per side right now. Long story short, I was trying to ALMOST dry her off so we could take that short trip I mentioned without having to ask someone to milk her for me. It didn’t exactly work, and I’ve been trying to get her production back up.

    To answer your other questions, she’s not (as long as I’ve had her) developed this condition after kidding. At her best she only puts out maybe a quart of milk per day, so she’s not exactly a big producer. I don’t think lactation is super taxing on her.

    She does raise her kids. Well, she lost the single kid I mentioned in the original post. He got stuck in a backwards position and I had to pull him out, but I wasn’t fast enough. She has twins now and I let her wean them at her own pace. She’s only just now done that, and they’re nine months old. Lol.

    I will weigh her food when I get a chance. I would estimate she gets around 2-3 lbs.

    Thanks for helping me figure this out.

    Edit: forgot to say I don’t have a way to weigh her - sorry about that.
     
  9. happybleats

    happybleats Well-Known Member

    Sep 12, 2010
    Gustine Texas
    Hows her temp through this? When doing honey or molasses, are you mixing 50/50 with water? about how much you giving her? Alfalfa is an important food all year long as it helps balance the ca: phos. Imbalance is what can cause metabolic issues.
     
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  10. singinggoatgirl

    singinggoatgirl Well-Known Member

    Apr 13, 2016
    the deep south
    Alfalfa won't hurt her at all. I've fed it year-round to male and female goats, who were dry, pregnant, and/or lactating. I do not offer grain to my goats unless they are lactating. They all maintained really good condition without getting fat and they grew quickly. Like happybleats said, the only potential problem with alfalfa is the high concentration of calcium in alfalfa, and that is only a problem if their calcium:phosphorus ratio in their total diet is way off. If they are growing, pregnant, or lactating, the extra calcium is extra good for them. If they aren't doing any of those "jobs" they won't need as much calcium, but it won't hurt unless they also aren't getting enough phosphorus.

    Has she always had strong labors? Does she have weak contractions or poor muscle tone?
     
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  11. Feira426

    Feira426 Active Member

    206
    Dec 11, 2019
    Texas
    I don’t actually know how to take a goat’s temperature. How do I do that?

    I do not mix the molasses or honey with water. I did mix it with milk a couple of times because I saw something that said milk could help with some problem and I figured it might help her with this. It was really runny though. It’s easier for me to get it into her mouth if it’s thicker I think. Do I need to mix it with water? She has access to water 24/7.

    I read somewhere that giving alfalfa to a non-lactating goat could cause them to have calcium-related problems. Is that false? I’m sure glad I found this forum. There’s a lot of confusing and misleading advise out there.
     
  12. Feira426

    Feira426 Active Member

    206
    Dec 11, 2019
    Texas
    As she was my first doe I didn’t really have anything to compare her to, but I would say her contractions are very strong.

    I don’t know how to tell if her muscle tone is good either. She is very hairy.

    I’m really a noob at this. How should I judge her muscle tone?

    How do I know if she is getting enough phosphorus?
     
  13. happybleats

    happybleats Well-Known Member

    Sep 12, 2010
    Gustine Texas
    We feed alfalfa year round as well..its good food and helps balance our the phos. There is a lot of mis-information out there and many ideas of how to do things. This is a great place to come and learn.
     
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  14. happybleats

    happybleats Well-Known Member

    Sep 12, 2010
    Gustine Texas
    When we talk about Calcium: phosphorus, it is in her whole diet..Grain, hay, browse food, minerals all offer some amount of phos and some calcium..alfalfa is high is calcium. So if you look at your feed bags, mineral bags and see that they are at least 2:1 ratio, then you are good there, then you add hay, which brings phos back up..so we add calcium to bring it back to balance.
     
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  15. MadHouse

    MadHouse Well-Known Member

    You get a thermometer, put some lubricant on the end, get someone to distract her maybe, and slide it into her bum. Hold her still, until it beeps. Normal is 101.5 to 103.5 F.
     
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  16. Feira426

    Feira426 Active Member

    206
    Dec 11, 2019
    Texas
    So, just making sure I understand you - we want about twice as much calcium in their diets as phosphorus? That’s the best ratio for optimal health?
     
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  17. happybleats

    happybleats Well-Known Member

    Sep 12, 2010
    Gustine Texas
    "So, just making sure I understand you - we want about twice as much calcium in their diets as phosphorus? That’s the best ratio for optimal health?"

    Yes at least 2- 2 1/2 to 1 ratio : )
     
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  18. singinggoatgirl

    singinggoatgirl Well-Known Member

    Apr 13, 2016
    the deep south
    To take her temperature, get a thermometer (the kind that humans stick under a tongue or in the armpit) and gently push the tip into her anus. Not into her vagina. If it goes in about an inch, I think it will give an accurate reading.

    I agree. About double the calcium compared to phosphorus is optimal.
     
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  19. CountyLineAcres

    CountyLineAcres Well-Known Member

    Jan 22, 2014
    Mineral Ridge, Ohio
    Toxemia/Ketosis can happen in goats of all shapes and sizes! They don’t need to be fat or skinny. It is highly dependent on the doe’s nutrition and energy intake around the last 4-6 weeks of pregnancy.

    If they don’t receive enough energy to provide for both her and her fetuses, she will start breaking down fat and muscle and enter a negative caloric state. Having multiples isn’t a requirement for pregnancy toxemia or ketosis, but it definitely raises the chances of this occurring.

    They need carbs! Best thing to do is prevent it from occurrng by increasing her energy consumption during the last 4-6 weeks of pregnancy. Grains, such as cracked corn, are a great source of energy! Electrolyte Plus is also great to use free choice as it is high in sugar and has sodium bicarbonate to balance their rumens.

    Make sure your feed (if you feed a grain) isn’t too high in protein for pregnant does. It takes a lot of energy to break down protein, so that could work against you.
     
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  20. Feira426

    Feira426 Active Member

    206
    Dec 11, 2019
    Texas
    How much protein would you say is too much for a pregnant doe? She doesn't like to eat more than a little grain/pelleted feed when she is pregnant so it's difficult to up her calorie intake.

    I have started giving her more alfalfa. How much alfalfa do you all give your does on a daily basis? My vet suggested I start with 1/4 flake and go from there, but she didn't really tell me where to go from there. She's getting about double that now - but I would love to know what other people are feeding and how their goats are doing on it.