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PINE BLUFF, Ark. – Although kidding and lambing season does not usually occur until
spring, winter is the time to prevent pregnancy toxemia in your herd or flock, said
David Fernandez, Cooperative Extension Program livestock specialist at the University
of Arkansas at Pine Bluff.
Pregnancy toxemia, or ketosis, is a metabolic disorder caused by increasing demands
on the bodies of does or ewes during late pregnancy, he says. At this time the fetuses
will complete nearly 80 percent of their growth, and the female’s nutritional needs
double. But, the space in her rumen is reduced because of the room taken up by the
growing fetuses. If does or ewes cannot consume enough high quality feed, they will
begin to mobilize their body fat reserves.
To generate energy from fat stores, females still need a certain amount of blood sugar.
If they cannot get enough energy from feed, ketones created during fat metabolism
build up to toxic levels. A common example of a ketone is the acetone in nail polish
“Imagine having nail polish remover in your blood,” he said. “Does or ewes stop eating
which makes matters worse. They become lethargic, have difficulty walking, grind their
teeth and eventually go down. Their breath will smell sweetish or foul because of
the ketones in their blood. Finally, they go into a coma and die. Once the female
is down, the likelihood of recovering drops dramatically.”
If a doe or ewe becomes affected, early treatment while she can still stand is critical.
Fernandez suggests providing a high energy feed to increase the amount of glucose
in her blood and giving 60 to 90 milliliters of propylene glycol two to three times
daily until she recovers or gives birth. In a pinch, producers can make a syrup of
table sugar or use molasses. The pregnancy may have to be aborted or the veterinarian
can do an emergency Caesarian section. The female almost always gets right up and
is back to normal once the fetuses are removed.
Prevention is the best way to handle pregnancy toxemia, Fernandez said. Animals most
likely to suffer from toxemia are fat and carrying twins or triplets. Usually, older
females are more susceptible than younger ones. Very thin females are also at risk,
but because they have less fat to mobilize, they are less likely to suffer from toxemia.
Just make sure your does and ewes are in good condition (http://www.uaex.uada.edu/publications/PDF/FSA-9610.pdf), but not overconditioned.
Proper feeding of your flock or herd will save money now and go a long way toward
avoiding pregnancy toxemia next spring. For more information on this or other livestock
issues, contact Fernandez at email@example.com or (870) 575-7214.
The Arkansas Cooperative Extension Program offers its programs to all eligible persons
regardless of race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin,
religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information, or any
other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.
By Carol Sanders The Cooperative Extension Program U of A - Pine Bluff
Media Contact: Carol Sanders Cooperative Extension Program(870) firstname.lastname@example.org