Spontaneous Abortion

Poor condition due to worms or low nutritional plane contributes to problems with reproduction, especially abortion. Normally, mature does will twin while maiden does have a single kid. If they do not twin on a regular basis, look at your nutrition carefully. The number of kids is determined by the nutritional condition of the doe at conception. Some managers take special care to “flush” (feed extra rations) in the six weeks immediately preceding joining to insure multiple births. Another trick is to suddenly introduce the bucks to the does through the fence. The smell will stimulate the does does to cycle and if you can keep them separate for 20 days, the does will ovulate more oocysts the second time around. Does subjected to a poor nutritional plane after joining may abort. Although abortion is rare in goats, it can be caused by the following disease mechanisms:

Enzootic abortion is caused by Chlamydia and is normally not a problem except in dairy goats or confined goats. Chlamydial abortion occurs in both sheep and goats and is infective between the two species. It usually occurs during the last two weeks of pregnancy and always in the last trimester. The aborted fetus can appear normal, autolyzed or weak kids can be born only to die soon after. Diagnosis can be done by submitting the fetus and the aborted placenta to a diagnostic lab. If detected, the rest of the herd should be treated immediately with oxyteyracycline either IM or orally to stop the spread of the disease.

Mycoplasmal abortion can occur at any time during pregnancy and other symptoms usually run concurrently such as mastitis, pneumonia or arthritis. Again, this is common only in dairy goats or confined herds. Diagnosis can be done by submitting the fetus, placenta, milk from the dam or lung exudates to a diagnostic lab. Treatment is the same as for enzootic abortion.

Brucellosis can cause abortion during the fourth month of gestation, although this is rare. Associated symptoms include lameness, mastitis and orchitis. Laboratory analysis of blood or fetus is required for diagnosis. There is no treatment or prevention for brucellosis in goats. It is caused by the same organism that infects cattle, Brucella melitensis, but it is not known if cattle or bison can infect goats. Such transmission has never been reported but continues to be of concern to USDA health officials.

Leptospirosis caused abortion in goats is very rare. Abortions can occur anytime during gestation and the doe may die after an acute illness. A diagnostic symptom is dark brown urine. Diagnosis is by urine, blood or fetal sample analysis at a diagnostic lab. Treatment consists of injecting streptomycin. There is no vaccine available for use in goats.

Q-fever can occur rarely in goats and is caused by Coxiella burnetti. There are no clinical signs and large abortion storms can occur with affected animals shedding large numbers of organisms. Diagnosis can only be made at a diagnostic lab and treatment consists of injectable oxytetracycline.

Vibriosis and IBR have only been reported a few times in goats and are not a problem in goat populations. Abortions can also be caused by toxic plants and physical injury. Any abortions not attributable to condition, poisoning or injury should be treated aggressively and a veterinarian consulted to determine its cause.

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