Weak legs, especially one back leg - three month old doeling

Discussion in 'Health & Wellness' started by Anita, Jul 6, 2010.

  1. Anita

    Anita New Member

    30
    May 12, 2009
    Davidsonville, MD
    I have a three month old Nigerian Dwarf doeling. She has been somewhat unsteady since birth, not keeping up with her sister at all. She is frail and thin, although has a good appetite. Her legs have always been suspect since birth, i.e., thin and weak. She is not even close to as nimble on her feet as she should be. She did have a BoSe injection at birth, and has had Selenium gel twice since then.

    This morning I noticed her back legs bowing out a bit, and her back right leg knee joint going out to the right when she steps on it.

    She is wormed regularly and just had fecals done by MidAmerica, she was my only goat completely negative. She has free access to alfalfa, minerals, kelp, baking soda and grain. She DOES NOT eat much grain. She still gets a full bottle of milk replacer once a day. She eats a lot of alfalfa.

    I researched a little online before coming here, and found that this could be a calcium/phosphorus ratio problem, i.e., not enough phosphorus. Does that sound logical? If not, what else could be the problem?

    If it is a phosphorus problem, how do I get it in her? Is there a phosphorus supplement of some kind I could add to her milk? I have a Caprine Supply Mineral that is 1:2 Calcium to Phosphorus which is available to her, but I'm not sure if she's taking that.

    Thanks for any help you can give.
     
  2. mrs. lam

    mrs. lam New Member

    Apr 20, 2010
    Re: Weak legs, especially one back leg - three month old doe

    Someone should be on soon to help with the phosphorus question. If she's not eating the minerals, I would try a Tums. :shrug: (for calcium) I think they also have a drench you can use.

    On the back leg that is weak, has she had any shots in that leg? Could a nerve have been hit? Sorry. Just bouncing some ideas around in my head.

    Gina
     

  3. Anita

    Anita New Member

    30
    May 12, 2009
    Davidsonville, MD
    Re: Weak legs, especially one back leg - three month old doe

    Thanks. No, no shots recently. I really do think this is either congenital or mineral/vitamin related, but certainly open to other ideas.

    She gets plenty calcium. If she is deficient it would be in the phosphorus part of the equation.
     
  4. cmjust0

    cmjust0 New Member

    237
    Oct 8, 2009
    Re: Weak legs, especially one back leg - three month old doe

    The mineral would be 2:1 Calcium:phosphorus, not the other way around.. That's the recommended ratio for goats. Provided that both calcium and phosphorus are available, the body is generally pretty adept at making sure the blood Ca:p ratio is metabolically correct..

    Three doses of selenium in three months is a lot.. I realize she was weak at birth, but the symptoms of selenium toxicity are the same as selenium deficiency, and include weak rear legs..

    The other things that come to mind are CAE (the 'nervous,' or 'encephalytic' form) and enzootic ataxia, which would have been caused by low copper levels in the dam during gestation. Give the goat's sibling is fine, and given that they seem to have access to good mineral and so forth, ataxia seems less likely to me.

    CAE is a possibility, though. Here's a description of the 'nervous' form of CAE in kids:

    Other than that...a birth injury or something to that effect is also a possibility, I suppose.

    I'd consider running this gal to the vet and draw a vial or two for a CAE test and blood chemistry.. They should be able to check for hyophosphatemia (low blood phosphate) and possible Selenium toxicity..
     
  5. Anita

    Anita New Member

    30
    May 12, 2009
    Davidsonville, MD
    Re: Weak legs, especially one back leg - three month old doe

    Wow, thank you for such a thoughtful reply. I really appreciate it.

    1. I know that 2:1 is the correct ratio for goats, but my dairy does eat a very high calcium (alfalfa) diet, and so have a 1:2 mineral available to keep their levels correct. Problem is, regardless of the ratio, I don't believe this doeling is eating much of the mineral. She is wolfing down kelp which is high in calcium... So I know that her calcium to phosphorus ratio has got to be way high in calcium, what I don't know is if this is causing the problem.

    2. Selenium - Only one dose was a shot, after that it was gel, so I don't believe she's over on selenium, but that is a possibility.

    3. CAE - Of course, always possible, but very unlikely as her mother is CAE-free and she was pulled at birth and fed milk replacer. Until about three weeks ago her only goat contact was her sister, also pulled at birth. However, the quote you provided does very much sound like this doeling, so I must consider this possibility.

    4. Low copper levels - The doeling's dam is very strong and shows no signs of any kind of deficiency.

    I will investigate getting a blood test done on her. If it is CAE, of course she'll be put down, if it's low phosphorus, what could be done?
     
  6. cmjust0

    cmjust0 New Member

    237
    Oct 8, 2009
    Re: Weak legs, especially one back leg - three month old doe

    Went and investigated the mineral from Caprine supply...I'd never heard of that mineral before, but sure enough, it's 1:2. I'm not personally so sure I agree with the claims they make about it keeping Ca:p balanced, but...well, like you said, the mineral probably isn't playing a role in this doeling's issues if she's not eating it anyway.

    As for the Selenium...I'm assuming the shot was Bo-Se, right? How much did she get? Also, what's the formulation of the Sel/E gel, and how much of that did she get? Some Sel/E gels are measured in really strange ways like "2.5ppm/ml"...which makes no sense, really, as you have no idea how much Selenium -- in a weight measurement like 'mg' -- the goat's getting from each ml. Other formulations are actually pretty stout...like, 3mg of Selenium per 5ml of gel, which makes a single 5ml dose equivalent to enough Bo-Se to treat 120lbs of goat. That's a lot.

    If she got a Bo-Se shot and two doses of the stout Sel/E gel, I'd have her Se levels checked for sure.

    On the CAE...if her dam's negative and she was pulled and put on replacer, I would frankly see no reason to pull the test. You could have it done, but I highly doubt it's going to come back CAE+.. If this were my doeling, I'd rule it out.

    Copper...I dunno why I didn't think of this right off the bat, but there are basically two forms of copper-related ataxia. Some folks call them both enzootic ataxia, and some folks call one or the other of them 'swayback'...and I reckon some folks call both forms 'swayback'.. Bottom line is that only one is congenital (where the dam is copper deficient), but the other (duh!) is where the kid itself becomes copper deficient.. You mention that the kid was pulled and put on replacer, that it eats very little grain, and very little mineral.....my question then would be, what KIND of replacer is it on? If it's a "sheep & goat" replacer, that could be part of the issue..

    As for phosphorus...you could have her phosphate levels checked, but the reality is that alfalfa hay and corn contain about the same amount of phophorus on a pound for pound basis.. Alfalfa a little less, but not much. The difference is that alfalfa contains enough calcium to keep blood levels of calcium high, which means that a lot of the phosphorus won't be absorbed through the intestinal wall, and will instead be passed right on out in the feces....which is kinda why the whole 1:2 mineral 'balancer' thing seems kinda shady to me.

    The point, though, is that it's not as if the phosphorus is absent in the diet...it's not...it's just that with high blood calcium levels, the body's deciding not to absorb any 'extra' phosphorus out of grain, hay, forage, or whatever else (including 1:2 mineral, if my thinking's correct)..

    Something else I hadn't thought of would be Goat Polio, which is a Thiamine (Vit. B1) deficiency. Ataxia is one of the symptoms of goat polio. If it were me, I'd probably hit her with some fortified b-complex and see if she responds at all -- but that's me. I've never had one with goat polio, so I really don't know if keeping up b-complex shots would take care of it or not, or even whether a goat would respond to a single shot of fortified complex in terms of a rule-in/rule-out diagnostic test..
     
  7. Anita

    Anita New Member

    30
    May 12, 2009
    Davidsonville, MD
    Re: Weak legs, especially one back leg - three month old doe

    Wow, thanks again for your thoughtful reply.

    1. Selenium - She was given .10cc SQ BoSe the day after she was born, then Selenium and Vitamin E Gel at eight weeks and again at about ten weeks. Those two gel dosages would total no more than 2.5 ppm, which as you say, is hard to figure...

    2. Milk Replacer - She's been on Land O Lakes Does Match Kid Milk Replacer since birth, so the copper should be right.

    3. Alfalfa is high in calcium, negligible in phosphorus. Barley/Oats are high in phosphorus, negligible in calcium. That's why they work together, but she's not eating the barley/oats much. So, as you say. It could very well be a calcium deficiency, not because she isn't getting enough calcium, but because she isn't getting enough phosphorus to make the calcium available to her.

    4. I looked at the symptoms for Goat Polio, and she just doesn't fit.

    I could give her a B Complex injection just because.

    I think the most likely scenario is lack of phosphorus, so I plan to stop the milk replacer and supervise her grain eating to make sure she's getting some every day. About a cup total per day? She weighs about 20 pounds.

    I'll watch to make sure it doesn't get worse, if it does, or does not improve, I will consider a blood test.

    I'm open to other suggestions though...
     
  8. cmjust0

    cmjust0 New Member

    237
    Oct 8, 2009
    Re: Weak legs, especially one back leg - three month old doe

    Well...that's not exactly what I meant.

    It's not that alfalfa is negligible in phosphorus; the data I've seen suggests that alfalfa is generally about 1.5% Calcium, and around 5 or 6:1 or so in terms of the Ca:p ratio.. Those are ballpark figures, but they're in line for a phosphorus content of somewhere around 0.25% to 0.3%...or thereabout.

    That's also just about the same as corn.

    Oats and barley are higher, but just a little...like .35% or so. That is to say, a goat is going to ingest somewhere around the same amount of phosphorus if it eats a pound of corn or oats or barley, or a pound of alfalfa -- it doesn't really matter which.

    The difference is that corn, oats, barley, and other grains are essentially devoid of calcium (about .05% or less, from what I've seen), whereas Alfalfa is actually high in calcium at around 1.5%.

    What happens is that the goat consumes calcium, and the blood calcium levels come up.. When blood calcium levels come up, blood phosphate levels drop because the intestine basically says "Nope...we're good" when it encounters phosphorus. If blood calcium levels fall, the intestine begins to take up that extra phosphorus instead of passing it along. When calcium starts showing up again, it's absorbed again and blood phosphate levels drop again..

    Basically, the levels of each are always inversely proportionate to one another.. High blood calcium, low blood phosphate - high blood phosphate, low blood calcium. Well...unless your goat's been poisoned with cholecalciferol, which spurs the mobilization of calcium from the bones regardless of blood phosphate levels and can lead to both phosphates and calcium being high...like, deadly high. Cholecalciferol is also known as Vitamin D3.....and also rat poison.

    No matter, though...that's not what's happening here.

    The point I'm trying to make is that phosphorus is generally abundant...even things that are "low" in phosphorus usually still have corn-level amounts of phosphorus by weight, and corn is supposed to be "high" in phosphorus..

    Calcium is the key..

    Either it's there, or it's not, and if it's not, *everything* becomes high in phosphorus because the body sucks a bunch of it up into the bloodstream.

    However, if blood calcium levels are adequate, the body can maintain levels of both calcium and phosphorus all by itself and reject 'extra' of each quite handily.

    As such, I suspect that true hypophosphatemia is very rare "in the wild," so to speak.. So unless there's some type of underlying metabolic disorder, I'd say your doe's blood Ca:p ratio is optimal and that she's probably pooping out lots of calcium -- and I'd imagine, a little phosphorus, too.

    If you're concerned that hypophosphatemia might be the problem, though, I'd absolutely encourage you to go have it checked.. I'm certainly not a vet, afterall...I'm just a dork who researches this stuff almost nonstop and bothers his vets with a lot of questions.

    :laugh: