Attention! This is a potentially life-threatening condition for your goat. Time is of the essence, contact your veterinarian immediately.

Hypocalcemia, often referred to as milk fever, is a condition of low blood calcium concentration that can affect female dairy breed goats often during the course of the pregnancy. Goats are at a higher risk of milk fever during or immediately following giving birth, during late pregnancy, and at or near the time of peak lactation. It is caused by insufficient calcium intake to meet the increased needs required from the pregnancy.

The course of the condition varies from a few hours to a couple of days. The symptoms presented depend on the severity and extent of calcium loss.

Symptoms

Lethargy
Loss of appetite
Poor milk production
Ears and skin cold to touch
Initially shows elevated temperature which quickly decreases to subnormal
Dilated pupils
Ataxia
Faint heart beat
Nervousness
Hyperactivity
Irritable behavior
Muscle twitching
Trembling
Convulsions
Recumbency
Regurgitation
Death

Diagnosis

  • History - pregnancy
  • Clinical signs
  • Physical exam
  • Blood test

Treatment

Calcium borogluconate 23% infusions : 60–100 ml SC or slowly IV; followed by subcutaneous injections of calcium solutions and oral supplements. WARNING: If an animal with normal calcium levels is given intravenous calcium treatments it can be fatal to the animal. It is important that there is no doubt that the animal is suffering from milk fever prior to giving additional calcium.

Prevention

  • Pregnant goats should have their calcium levels monitored and receive oral dietary supplements of calcium and/or alfalfa hay if needed to help maintain adequate calcium levels throughout the pregnancy.
  • Anionic salts (minerals high in chloride and sulfur)

Article Reference

Popular Health Tools

  • Symptom Checker - Coming Soon!
  • Goat Feeds Lookup Tool - Coming Soon!

Switch Animals