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Alchemy Acres
Tip of the Month

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Most of us are now well into the kidding season. I probably should have written this article before, but I guess its better late than never. There are two disorders which are potentially fatal and can afflict the pregnant doe. In both of these cases prompt diagnosis and treatment are critical to saving the life of the doe.

The first disease is ketosis, also known as acetonemia or pregnancy disease. Ketosis is a toxemia caused by accumulation of the poisonous by-products which result from incomplete metabolism of fat. It can occur shortly before or after kidding. Pregnancy disease is more common in overconditioned animals who get insufficient exercise. Accumulation of abdominal fat during late lactation and early pregnancy tends to limit feed intake capacity.Then when demand by a rapidly growing number of multiple kids (triplets or quads generally) occurs, attempts to utilize stored body fat result in ketosis. The disease manifests itself primarily as a lack of apatite, a dullness in attitude, and acetone odor of the breath and milk. The disgnosis can be easily confirmed with the use of "Ketostix" which are purchased from your local pharmacy. If your pregnant doe goes off feed, watch her until you see her start to urinate. Hold one Ketostick in the stream of urine, and then observe the color of the test patch after two seconds (or according to label directions). The color of the test strip will turn varying shades of pink if your doe has some degree of ketosis. There is a color chart to help you diagnose the extent of your doe's problem. Treatment of the afflicted doe is simple. You should orally administer several ounces of propylene glycol every few hours until the doe starts to eat and behave normally. You might also want to give the doe some baking soda so that her stomach does not become sour. In addition to propylene glycol (the best remedy), you could also use pasturized honey or molasses water. These latter two concoctions could keep your doe alive until you get some glycol from the pharmacy or from your veterinarian (cheaper by far). But it is better if you have the glycol on hand before you have the emergency.

The second disorder we'll cover here is milk fever or hypocalcemia. This is a manifestation of deficient calcium in the blood of the doe, usually just before, during or after kidding. The afflicted doe may exhibit a wobbly gait in the rear legs. Other symptoms may include constipation, weak contractions at labor, hind foot dragging, dead or weak kids at birth, normal or slightly subnormal body temperature, trembling or shakiness, dullness of attitude. Some of the symptoms are similar to those of ketosis, but the cause and treatment are quite different. If your doe exhibits these symptoms, but is negative to the test for ketosis, you should contact your veterinarian immediately. Intravenous injection of 25% calcium borogluconate directly into the jugular is the treatment of choice. The calcium gluconate solution should be slowly administered at body temperature while constantly monitoring the heart rate with a stethoscope. The size of the dose depends upon the size of the animal and the degree of the affliction. Basically, when the heart rate starts to slow down, the doe has had enough IV. I definitely prefer to depend on my veterinarian for this treatment, as I lack the necessary skill and nerves to do it myself. I suspect most of us would be in that boat. After the doe has had the IV, you may orally administer about one quarter of a tube of calcium gel (available at your local Coop) about three times daily. You might also administer propylene glycol every few hours to help the doe keep up her strength. Also, you can replace the normal drinking water with electrolytes (Resorb from the Coop). Much of the success or failure of milk fever treatment depends upon careful examination before diagnosis is established and proper administration of the treatment.

I hope these brief discussions are of some assistance to you all. I want to emphasize how serious each of these maladies can be. Each is potentially life threatening. Prompt diagnosis and treatment is critical for the well-being of your doe. Do not hesitate to contact your veterinarian. This is not a time to implement a cost saving program.

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Welcome PageDescription of Dairy HerdWhat's New at the Site?Crafts and Nifty StuffAlchemy's MenagerieTip of the MonthPrevious Tips of the MonthOther Resources of Interest