Pregnancy toxemia and ketosis are the result of the high carbohydrate (energy) demand of multiple fetuses in late pregnancy. The kids require an increasing amount of carbohydrates the last trimester. Does bearing twins have a 180% higher energy requirement than those with just a single fetus. Does carrying triplets have a 240% greater energy requirement. When this demand exceeds the supply, fat is metabolized into glucose. The metabolic needs of the kids are met at the expense of the dam; this is what causes the ketotic condition. To complicate matters, multiple fetuses produce more waste products, which leads to the doe becoming toxic if she does not flush them from her system.
Part 1 -
Risk Factors for Pregnancy Toxemia
- Multiple fetuses
- Poor quality of ingested energy
- Dietary energy level
- Genetic factors
- Lack of good body condition or high parasite load
- Confinement - lack of exercise
Toxemia and ketosis are typically seen in does that are overweight and get little exercise. Under weight animals that are fed a poor quality feed are also candidates for toxemia. Look for does at the bottom and top of the pecking order. These does may be getting to much or not enough feed. Does should be in good body condition, and not overly fat when bred. They can be maintained on good roughage or forage during the first 100 days of pregnancy. During the last trimester the doe should gain approximately 1/2 lb. per day. The doe must intake enough carbohydrates to supply the demand of the growing fetuses and to keep her alive and functioning also.
I also believe that we are seeing an increase in toxemia this year due to the extended drought conditions. With these conditions the quality of the feed changes, the browse is limited, and the animals do not receive the vitamins and minerals that they get naturally from high quality feeds and browse. Extremely wet conditions, especially if following a prolonged drought can also cause a dramatic and quick increase in the worm load, and cause the doe to drop enough body condition to become a candidate for toxemia.
When there is a decrease of glucose levels in the doe's brain, they tend to lay down, become sluggish, and show a loss of appetite. They may get stiff, and walk with a staggering gait. Swelling (edema) of the lower limbs is not uncommon. Some does may also grind their teeth. Keto acidosis is also common during toxemia and needs to be treated also. As the disease progresses, the neurological systems become compromised due to lack of glucose. Blindness, stargazing, tremors, aimless walking, ataxia (uncoordinated staggering gait), are seen and eventually the doe becomes comatose. At this stage the fetuses succumb and release toxins that send the doe into endotoxic shock, and death. Does that survive toxemia need to be watched for dystocia, and lactational ketosis.
Diet should include high quality roughage and increased concentrates. At fist sign of decreased appetite, or unwillingness to rise, managers need to be wary. Exercise should be offered and forced if necessary. Some type of high-energy supplement needs to be given to keep the doe from coming ketotic. The carbohydrate (energy) level of the diet needs to be increased. This can be accomplished by adding corn, fresh alfalfa hay, or a soybean supplement to the diet. Increasing the protein does not necessarily increase the energy level.
High Energy Supplements
- Propylene Glycol
- Magic (1 part Molasses, 2 parts Kayro, 1 part Corn Oil)
- Glucose IV