Saturday, March 8, 2014

Pregnancy Toxemia

Cinder, one of our ewes, has pregnancy toxemia.
Also called, pregnancy disease, twin lamb disease (the disease is not normally seem in ewes carrying singles), and ketosis, pregnancy toxemia is caused by the sudden demand for energy by the fast growing lambs (or kids-goats can get it too), in the last few weeks of pregnancy.  Inadequate nutrition during the last trimester is the primary cause of low blood sugar/pregnancy toxemia.
Because most of the fetal growth (approximately 70 percent) occurs during the last 4-6 weeks of pregnancy, their fast growth, and the increasing amount of space needed in the womb, the ewes cannot consume enough feed (energy) to meet the demands of their fast growing babies.
Fat ewes are susceptible to pregnancy toxemia because there simple isn't enough room in the gut for the ewe to eat enough.
Under-conditioned ewes are susceptible because they cannot eat enough to meet their own nutritional needs, let alone the nutritional needs of their babies.
As said above, ewes carrying multiple births are at higher risk., since ewes carrying twins require twice as much nutritional intake (ewes carrying triplets require three times as much).
Really, anything that affects the ewe's ability to eat enough during the last trimester can result in pregnancy toxemia.

The symptoms of pregnancy toxemia are rather vague, but include;
They'll go off feed, seem lethargic, they'll lag behind the rest of the flock, and walk aimlessly. Twitching and teeth grinding is common. Eventually the affected ewes become depressed, weak and have poor muscle control. In later staged they lie down and are unable to rise. The breath of does and ewes will have a sweet or foul smell.
If left untreated, they will slip into a coma and die...quick action is crucial for saving the ewes (does) life, this isn't one of those wait and see sicknesses.

Cinder seemed weak, lagged behind the other ewes, her ears were twitching and she was grinding her teeth...at first (since she's due in as early as two weeks) we thought maybe she was going to lamb early. She never stopped eating the grain offered, but she'd barely eat the hay.
But after two days, we knew something was wrong. The biggest sign something wrong, was knowing her personality. She's a skittish ewes, every time we enter the stall she acts like she's never seen us before, and all of a sudden we could approach her and handle her without her trying to flee)...lots of research, and a emergency 6 p.m. trip to TSC we are now treating her for pregnancy toxemia.
We called the vet yesterday, asking if there was anything else we should give, he said no, that the medicine will take a while to start working, but if she's not better in four days (this Monday), to have him come out.

Good news though, she seems so much better this morning!!!
I'm not going to lie, it's 100% our fault she got sick...We didn't have out calender up, and didn't realize that they were due so soon, we didn't start graining but only 2 1/2 weeks ago, when we should of started at least a month ago.

Now, I'm not a Veterinarian, and we took the advice of other sheep owners via the internet...but I'm going to tell you what we gave Cinder to treat for pregnancy toxemia (this is just what we did and may not work for you, or your ewe (doe) might not even have this disease, when in doubt call the vet!)

*Cinder, is a babydoll ewe, they weigh less than 150 pounds. So the medication if for her size.
ALL medication is given orally.

  • 1 oz (20 ml) 50% dextrose, twice a day
  • 1 oz (20 ml) propylene glycol, three times a day
  • 2 pumps sheep nutridrench, once a day
  • Vitamin & electrolytes in her water 
  • Free choice sodium bicarbonate
We then offered grain every time we gave medication (so three times a day). 


We can still use prayers, that she gets 100% better and has beautiful lambs.
Gabrielle W. 
"The Lord directs the steps of a christian. He delights in every detail of their lives. Though they stumble, they will never fall, for the Lord holds them by the hand." Psalms 37:23-24

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