Milk fever is a noninfectious disease that occurs at or soon after kidding. It is brought on by lactation after birth.
The sudden increase in calcium necessary for milk production after birth can drastically decrease calcium levels in a doe. The goat may fail to mobilize stored calcium reserves in her bones during pregnancy, especially if a diet high in calcium is fed prior to birth.
During the onset of the disease, your goat may appear unsteady and weak as she walks. As milk fever progresses, she may lie down, which can advance to a coma and death.
TREATMENT / PREVENTION
If you notice any of these symptoms, contact your veterinarian immediately. Treatment involves administration of calcium. However you CAN take preventative measures to lower the incidence of milk fever.
Avoid diets high in calcium during late pregnancy and avoid the use of alfalfa as the only forage source during the dry period. Does usually have a good supply of calcium stored in their bones that can be used when needed. However when a diet high in calcium is fed, the doe may fail to use the stored calcium since it is already abundant in her diet. Then, when milk production begins, her calcium requirement dramatically increases. Since her body has not used the calcium storesfrom her bones, her blood calcium level plunges below normal, resulting in milk fever.
Purina Mills research has shown feeding a highly palatable diet with proper mineral balance such as Purina Goat Chow helps reduce milk fever.