January 2013 Issue



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Subscribe FREE now! Monthly issues with new articles and other educational information on meat goat health, nutrition, and management written by Suzanne W. Gasparotto of Onion Creek Ranch and Pat Cotten of Bending Tree Ranch. In all cases, it is your responsibility to obtain veterinary services and advice before using any of the information provided in these articles. Neither Suzanne Gasparotto nor Pat Cotten are veterinarians. None of the contributors to this website will be held responsible for the use of any information contained herein.


Goat raisers around the USA are experiencing what appear to be abortion diseases this winter of 2012-2013. Weak labor, failure of cervical rings to dilate, premature or dead kids and sometimes dying dams are occurring. I hear rumors of people blaming it on GMO (genetically modified organisms) in goat feed, but I find no evidence whatsoever of that, and I am a believer that it is usually the simplest thing that is wrong. I believe that drought, an enormous environmental stressor, is to blame. Nature is culling because there isn't enough out there for the kids to eat. Instinct doesn't tell the dams that I'm going to be providing food. The does' bodies react instinctively to environmental stress.

It doesn't matter what abortion organism is the cause, and as a producer, you don't have time for clinical diagnosis. For some abortion diseases in goats there are no tests or the tests are not definitive. None of the abortion vaccines for other species work with goats. Consider following the protocol that I developed in 2001 after the abortion disaster that befell my herd that year.

Before I put does in with bucks to breed, I inject each of them with oxytetracycline 200 mg/ml (LA 200 or generic equivalent). You can use the non-sting version of oxytetracycline 200 mg/ml if you think it necessary. I inject SQ (under the skin) over the ribs with an 18 gauge needle, dosing at 5 cc per 100 pounds bodyweight. Repeat SQ injections every 30 days until the doe kids. You can inject the bucks if you wish; I've not found it necessary but it cannot hurt to inject them.

Abortion diseases in goats kill kids by cutting off the placental food supply at about 40 days of gestation, hence my reasoning for giving oxytet injections every 30 days. If the dams are infected late in pregnancy, kids will be weak when born and will require extra care because they won't be able to stand and nurse, but you can save them if you are prepared and observant of onset of parturition ( labor). Read my article on how to handle weak newborns on the Articles page of www.tennesseemeatgoats.com and have necessary supplies on hand. Always use disposable gloves; some abortion diseases are zoonotic (humans can catch them). Dispose of all dead kids and placental materials and use a bleach/water solution on the area where the doe gave birth or aborted.I'm hearing reports from many goat, sheep, and cattle producers about weak labor and non-dilation of the cervix. I've discussed this condition with multiple vets, researchers at universities, and producers around the USA and Canada in the last week, and I've decided that I will give a 1/4 cc to 1/2 cc oxytocin injection IM (into the muscle) if I am positive that a doe is in Stage Two labor where she is pushing and she starts passing fluid out of the vagina but the cervix doesn't dilate. Producers must realize that stringy mucous coming out of the vagina as early as two weeks before kidding is not active labor. If you don't know the distinction, don't use oxytocin or you will kill the doe. I am told by several people that they've used this treatment and it resulted in cervical dilation in about 30 minutes. If the situation is serious enough that 30 minutes' wait isn't possible (kid close to vaginal opening or obvious distress in the dam), then I'm going to glove up, enter the doe's vagina, and gently attempt to loosen the cervical rings through slow rotation of my clenched fist with emphasis on using my knuckles on the non-dilated cervical rings. Oxytocin hormone is a vet prescription. This use of oxytocin with goats is both off-label and potentially dangerous, so never use it without supervision of your veterinarian. Remember that I am not a vet and am only recounting what I choose to do with my own herd and with my vet's supervision.

Suzanne W. Gasparotto, ONION CREEK RANCH, Texas 1-18-13




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