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Mastitis and Ketosis with Goats

Mastitis and Ketosis with Goats

“Never inject a doe’s udder with any substance antibiotic or otherwise; it will kill her.”

What is Mastitis?
Mastitis is essentially an infected udder on a doe. Does of all goat breeds can contract mastitis but it is more often seen in heavy milkers. Since bacteria that cause mastitis enter the udder through the teats, the cleanliness of pens and feeding areas has a significant impact on whether or not mastitis develops in a herd. There is some evidence that mastitis can be hereditary but it is fair to say that it is mostly acquired via external sources.

Mastitis prevents a lactating doe from providing quality milk for her kids. Indeed it sometimes prevents her from nursing them. The udder gets swollen hard and hot. The milk, if there is any, is stringy spotted with blood and often unusable.

Mastitis is not responsive to injectable antibiotics because the medicine cannot get to the source of the infection. The udder is an interwoven mass of fibrous tissue that is walled off from the rest of the doe’s body. Never inject a doe’s udder with any substance antibiotic or otherwise; it will kill her.

Treatment involves removing the kid from its mother and bottle feeding it. Occasionally, a mild case of mastitis will permit treatment and still allow the kid to nurse particularly if the infection is in only one teat. The udder is walled off into two parts each supplying one teat with milk. Milk out the infected udder(s) and infuse each infected teat with an intramammary medication for four to five consecutive days. Massage the udder to move the medication around inside as much as possible. Bag Balm can be applied to the outside of the udder for ease in massaging and for the doe’s comfort. Some does run fever with mastitis so fever-reducing medication must be given.

Since it is virtually impossible to kill all of the bacteria inside the udder, mastitis is usually chronic recurring with each kidding. For this reason, mastitis is generally a reason for culling a doe in a meat-goat herd.

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What is Ketosis?

Ketosis is a pregnancy-related illness in does which can occur either right before or shortly after kidding. Ketosis is the result of producers not providing proper nutrition for pregnant does. The bred female does not receive adequate protein to feed both her and her kids in utero so either just before or immediately after she kids her body begins to draw upon its protein reserves so that she can provide milk for her offspring. Deadly ketones are produced as a by-product of this process as her own body tissues begin to starve.

Treatment is simple. Oral administration of propylene glycol molasses or Karo syrup is necessary. The doe will dislike the oily propylene glycol but it is by far the best product available for treating ketosis. Dosage is based upon weight of the animal.

Prevention is easy. Feed the doe properly during gestation as well as after kidding. Bringing a doe back from a bout of ketosis is difficult and death often results.