From Onion Creek Ranch (www.tennesseemeatgoats.com)
COMPLICATIONS OF PREGNANCY
There are many health problems that can impact a pregnant doe.
Below are some of the most common ones. The Articles page at
www.tennesseemeatgoats.com contains articles detailing diagnosis and
treatment for most of these conditions.
Congenital and Developmental Defects:
birth defects are never seen by the producer because the doe's body
either reabsorbs the embryo in early gestation or aborts the
fetus.Visible birth defects appearing at parturition (birthing) include
cleft palate, atresi ani, and mummification.
Cleft palate is a lengthwise split in the roof of the mouth.
Atresi ani is no rectal opening. Mummification is a kid whose limbs are
*frozen* in place and unmoveable. A dead mummified kid may have to be
taken apart in pieces to get its body out of the doe. A live mummified
kid may be born but will be unable to move.
Cleft palate, atresi ani, and live mummification are conditions
requiring immediate humane euthanasia. All three conditions may or may
not recur if the same doe and buck are bred again.
Incomplete dilation of the cervix.
Manual manipulation of the cervical opening should be done by an
experienced person -- preferably a vet. The tissue involved is very
easy to damage. Ringwomb may be the result of inadequate levels of
minerals or hormones.
This condition can occur at any
time during pregnancy and is usually the result of being hit.
Impossible to diagnose without veterinarian assistance. Uterine
rupture can also occur when assistance in kidding is needed and the
pushing-pulling-rearranging of kids inside the uterus results in tearing
it. Uterine rupture is often not repairable surgically and the dam
will die within 24 to 72 hours.
A twisted uterus is very
difficult to fix but repositioning it is the only solution.If uterine
torsion is suspected, vet help is necessary.
Swelling of lower legs in
long-bred does. Often but not always associated with worm load.
Usually occurs when multiple fetuses are taking more nutrition than dam
can replace, putting her in a nutritional deficit.
Pregnancy Toxemia and Ketosis:
Nutritionally-related metabolic diseases occuring at the end of
pregnancy and early during lactation. An improper level of nutrition
is the cause. As the dam draws upon her own body's reserves and her
tissues begin to starve, deadly ketones are produced. Oral
administration of high-energy products such as propylene glycol,
molasses, or Karo syrup given orally are necessary.
Abortions and Vaginal Discharges:
Red, brown, or
very foul-smelling discharges are not normal and may indicate early
termination of pregnancy. Examples of conditions causing abortions
include interruption of the fetal blood supply when injured, poor
nutrition (insufficient energy), stress (moving, changing feed,
illness), abortion diseases, toxicity (ingestion of poisonous plants or
other substances), surgery, malformation of the fetus during
development, and labor-inducing drugs (dexamethasone). The usual
drug of choice is oxytetracycline 200 mg/ml (LA 200 or generic
Commonly but improperly called
"milk fever," hypocalcemia is an imbalance of calcium occuring just
prior to kidding. The first recognizable physical symptom is usually
cold and dragging rear legs. This nutritionally based illness
involves hormonal changes that occur in the mobilization of calcium when
the doe begins to produce milk. Calcium-rich feeds/hays need to be
cut back during the last 30 days of gestation to prevent excess calcium
from being deposited in her bones. The dam's body needs to be
releasing calcium already stored in her bones for use in milk
production. Oral administration of CMPK or MFO solution are
Prolapses of the vagina or the rectum
can occur in a doe heavy with kids. Purse-string stitches and prolapse
retainers may help. Prolapses recurring in multiple pregnancies
means that the doe should be culled.
pseudo-pregnancy, more specifically hydrometra.Everything about a
cloudburst pregnancy is normal except that no kid was formed and a
"cloudburst" of liquid comes out of the dam's body at delivery.
Infectious diseases like toxoplasmosis and border disease may be the
cause, as may certain plant materials that contain phytoestrogens. A
more common cause is the chemical alteration of estrus through
artificial induction into heat of does by producers who use
The infected udder becomes swollen,
hard, and hot from bacteria entering through the teats. The milk, if
any, is stringy, bloody, and unuseable. Cleanliness of pens and feeding
areas is critical. Because the udder is an interwoven mass of fibrous
tissue that is walled off from the rest of the doe's body, injectable
antibiotics cannot get to the source of the infection. Because
mastitis organisms can become systemic and infect the doe's entire
body, a broad-spectrum antibiotic like prescription Nuflor is
recommended. Cai-Pan Peppermint Oil Cream applied externally to the
udder can provide relief from discomfort to the doe. In some breeds
mastitis may occur in certain genetic lines. Mastitis is usually
chronic and therefore a *cull* factor in a meat-goat herd.
Unlike mastitis, congested
udder is readily treatable by applying hot compresses to the udder until
the over-filled tight udder softens enough to get useable milk out.
Placental tissue (afterbirth)
should be expelled by the doe's body within 12 to 24 hours after
parturition. Retained placenta can be caused by abortion diseases such
as toxoplasmosis or chlamydiosis or can be the result of selenium
deficiency in the doe's diet. Tall fescue grass or hay can be the
culprit. A prescription oxytocin injection may be needed if the
placenta has not passed within the normal timeframe. Do not pull the
placental tissue out, even if it is dragging behind the doe; doing this
can kill her. After a difficult birth, the uterus should be flushed
with a solution of Nolvasan or Chlorhexidine antibacterials to prevent
Infection of the uterus that can occur with retained placenta or dead kids inside the dam.
If the doe has been a good milk
producer previously, then the problem is either mastitis or nutritional.
Feeding tall fescue grass or hay can cause poor milk production. A
non-mastitic freshened doe who is not producing enough milk should be
fed a diet high in legume hay (alfalfa or peanut hay) and extra grain
rations. Occasionally an injection of dexamethasone can bring a doe
into milk. In some breeds, certain genetic lines are poor milk
After any abnormal or difficult kidding, the producer should glove
up and manually go inside the doe to check for undelivered live or dead
kids. Be careful not to disturb the tissues attached to the inside of
the doe's uterus. Pregnancy in goats is accompanied by great risks,
occurring outside under a wide variety of dangerous conditions and
usually occurs unassisted. It is remarkable that more pregnancy-related
deaths do not occur. There are many things that producers can do
themselves to assist their goats but there are times when vet help is
Suzanne W. Gasparotto
ONION CREEK RANCH