Article Index "More Feedback on Hypocalcemia in Goats" Article Index


By: Muriel Sluyter
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An article in the December issue (Mississippi Goat Association) by Sue Reith addressed hypocalcemia and ketosis. I should like to suggest a slightly different and vastly simplified treatment regimen.

Let's go to symptoms. If a doe, whether newly freshened or a heavy producer who has gone off her feed, staggers while she tries to walk or shows weakness in getting up on her stanchion, suspect hypocalcemia. This is especially true if she is newly freshened and tends to go from zero to 8 or 9 pounds in about a week's time. This is a stressor on any doe, but the heavy producers are especially at risk.

If she seems to be alert and can stand, but is obviously weak, you're in luck. And if she is so weak she cannot stand, but was just fine, vigorous and strong when you turned off the lights last night, you're still okay.If she is extremely pregnant, with three or four kids, and can't get up this morning, but was okay last night, you're probably still okay.

First and foremost, make very sure you have at least one bottle of calcium gluconate before kidding season starts. That way, if a pregnant doe can't rise tonight but was doing okay this morning, or is just becoming progressively weak and wobbly, you will be prepared.

At the first sign of weakness and I don't mean the next day, I mean NOW, get a syringe with an 18-gauge needle, have someone hold her head or tie it to something substantial, and give her five shots of 10 cc's of calcium solution. This is how you do it: Tent a spot of her hide a few inches down from her topline. Gently slide the needle in sideways, horizontal to her body, so you can deposit the calcium under her hide, but not in the muscle. Choose another spot and repeat the procedure. Do this five times, so she will get 50 cc's. She's not going to like you very much, but it is not really very painful. Put alcohol on the bottle top between each extraction of solution. I use the same needle, but put it in alcohol between shots.

If she had just begun to weaken, she will probably be strong and steady within an hour, but it doesn't matter; do it again. Give her another full 50 cc's in new spots, even if she is so strong that she tries to slap you silly, because she still needs more calcium, although her body will have absorbed the amount you put in her an hour ago. From here on it is straight uphill, and she will let you know that she doesn't like you or your treatments, but give her another one in a few hours, anyway. Then do it again the next day, about three times.

If she has stabilized and is eating well, just watch her closely. Another treatment may be necessary, and it won't hurt her, but you have to watch her and use your own judgement. Watch her closely for several days, just in case. You know your own stock - be alert.

If she is pregnant with three of four kids, and is just a week or two short of delivery, it helps to give her some molasses in warm water and the calcium treatment. If she cannot get enough alfalfa to provide her body with the requisite level of calcium, for whatever reason, baby her. Take hay to her and make sure no other goat can get to it. One or more bossy goats, who will not let her eat, may be the reason she is struggling.

If she continues to struggle and remains weak, you may have to get a shot of lutalyse from your veterinarian, which will cause her babies to be born early. He (or she) will tell you how to use it. I have only had to do that once in several decades of goatkeeping, and you don't want to do it until the babies can survive, if you can avoid it. It saved my doe, and her babies were only a few days short of term, so all four of them did well, too.

Good luck. Just remember - treat her as soon as she shows weakness. If you wait until tomorrow, it will make your job really tough.

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