Onion Creek Ranch, Lohn, Texas
Suzanne W. Gasparotto, Onion Creek Ranch, Lohn, TX
Lohn, Texas
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Commonly known as Overeating Disease, Enterotoxemia (also called  Pulpy Kidney) is caused by the bacterium clostridium perfringens. Although there are many types of C. perfringens,  types C and D predominate in goats in the USA.  Type C is more often found in young kids, while  type D is more common in adult goats.

The only two biologicals made specifically for goats are used with Overeating Disease:  CD/T vaccine, which helps prevent types C & D   Clostridium  perfringens coupled with  Tetanus protection,   and C & D Anti-Toxin to use when a toxic condition  already exists.   Both biologicals are injected sub-cutaneously and must be refrigerated.  Always have both products available  in your refrigerator.

Enterotoxemia is primarily a management-caused disease. Feeding too much carbohydrate-rich processed grains (sacked feed)   fills the rumen and intestines with undigested starches, allowing C. perfringens toxins to  flourish.  Show-goat producers struggle with Enterotoxemia, because they feed too much grain in an attempt to achieve rapid weight gain.

Other causes can be feeding pasture that is too lush and offering baked goods like bread.   Goats breaking into a feed bin and eating their fill often  results in Overeating Disease.   Sudden changes in feed or pasture or in how or when you feed can cause Enterotoxemia.The pH of the rumen becomes acidic, rumen contractions slow down, toxins go systemic (throughout the goat's bloodstream) damaging blood vessels in the brain (become neurotoxic), killing the goat.

All changes in feed, hay, and pasture must be done slowly and over 10 to 14  days to avoid shocking the rumen and causing illness or death.

Transmission of this bacterium from goat to goat is usually via feces, although it can also live in the soil. The bacterium is present in small amounts in most rumens but it does major damage when it establishes itself in the intestinal tract. The bacterium can generate in as little as  eight minutes, which means quick onset of life-threatening illness.

Overeating Disease appears in goat herds in three main ways:

1) Very young nursing kids who overeat on dam's milk. Overeating Disease at this stage of life is known as Floppy Kid Syndrome, sometimes but not always  has diarrhea* as a symptom, and is a peracute condition (rapid onset with quick death if not immediately treated) usually caused by Type C. This condition is primarily seen in bottle babies and is caused by feeding too much milk at a time and too frequently. See my article on Floppy Kid Syndrome  on the Articles page of www.tennesseemeatgoats.com. *Note:  Diarrhea in this situation is good, because the kid's body is trying to rid itself of toxins.  Do not   stop diarrhea until you know what is causing it, but do keep the kid hydrated with electrolytes.

2) Just-weaned kids who are transitioning from milk to solid food.   This type of Overeating Disease may or may not have diarrhea accompany it.  NEVER  creep-feed grains  (free choice feed)  to goats, regardless of age.     Both kid and adult  goats will eat until nothing is left to eat.  An open feed bin of grain (chicken feed is a good example) is an invitation to Overeating Disease and a quick and painful death.  In addition to Overeating Disease, Founder/Laminitis and Ruminal Acidosis can occur.

3) Older kids and adult goats. They usually contract C. perfringens type D and green-turning-to-blackish diarrhea may occur. If it becomes chronic (recurring), there may be an underlying chronic  issue (perhaps Johnes Disease) that should be investigated via laboratory testing. Bob Glass, owner of Pan American Vet Lab near Austin, Texas,  does such testing. Call him at 512-964-3927 or email bglass@pavlab.com.

Symptoms of Enterotoxemia include watery diarrhea (or no diarrhea, if sudden onset (peracute), lethargy (sluggish), teeth grinding (gut pain), low body temperature as the goat begins to shut down and die, arching of the back (abdominal discomfort), screaming (extremely painful), head pulled back, lying on side and legs paddling, convulsions, coma, and death. (Note: Several of these symptoms can occur in other illnesses too, so you must learn to diagnose properly.) Recovery is unlikely if treatment isn't immediate and aggressive. Post-mortem diagnosis will reflect a pulpy kidney only if the necropsy is done immediately.  "Pulpy Kidney" is another common term used to describe Overeating Disease.

Treatment includes immediate sub-cutaneous (SQ) injection of C&D Anti-toxin (NOT the toxoid), Milk of Magnesia to push the toxic feed out of the body, electrolytes orally or Lactated Ringers SQ to keep the goat hydrated, activated charcoal or Universal Animal Antidote (UAA) powder orally to bind up the toxins, Banamine into the muscle (IM) or under the skin (SQ) for pain, and oral sulfa antibiotics (prescription SMZ). C&D anti-toxin is made for goats and has dosages on the label; follow dosage directions on the label and give every 12 hours until the goat is well. Occasionally a goat will have an allergic reaction to C&D anti-toxin, so have Benadryl and epinephrine on hand. Activated charcoal (Toxiban) should be dosed orally according to label's directions.

Milk of Magnesia should be dosed orally at 15 cc per 60 lbs bodyweight and given every 4  to 6 hours until the goat passes clumps of feces and then starts making normal pills. Keep the goat hydrated with electrolytes. Laxatives are dehydrating. Electrolytes like Bounce Back or ReSorb should be used, but Gatorade or Pedialyte can be substituted in an emergency.

Mineral oil can be used instead of Milk of Magnesia, but mineral oil must be stomach tubed into the goat. Mineral oil has no taste, so if it is given orally, the goat may aspirate it into its lungs and develop pneumonia. Stomach tubing mineral oil eliminates that possibility. If you do not have a stomach tube and must orally drench mineral oil into the goat, mix it with GoatAde or a flavored juice that the goat can taste and slowly give it orally.

Teeth grinding is an indication of pain -- usually gut pain. Banamine dosage is 1 cc per 100 pounds bodyweight given IM (into the muscle) or SQ (under the skin) and should not be given more often than every 12 hours unless the goat is in extreme pain and on the verge of death. The prescription medication Sulfamethoxazole with Trimethoprin (SMZ) is very effective. I dose liquid SMZ orally at two to three cc's for very young to young kids. For adults, I use the 800 mg SMZ tablets. They dissolve easily in water for oral dosing at 6 tablets per 100 lbs bodyweight. Always give antibiotics to goats for five consecutive days. These  products are vet prescriptions worth the price and inconvenience of obtaining them.

A vaccine to help prevent Enterotoxemia in goats exists and is one of the few vaccines made specifically for goats. It is inexpensive and should be administered to all goats.    I  use   the vaccine commonly known as CD/T, which is protection against C. perfringens types C &D plus Tetanus ("lockjaw"). This vaccine is very effective if the infection is in the rumen; if the bacteria has taken up residence in the intestines, the vaccine is less effective. Sterile injection-site granulomas  are not unusual when administering the CD/T vaccine.

It is best to use the CD/T vaccine rather than 7-way or 8-way vaccines to achieve Tetanus protection because multi-valent vaccines can overwhelm the immune system, resulting in the goat's body eliminating (dumping) some of the  protection (usually Tetanus). Goats seldom have clostridial-based diseases other than Tetanus. See my article on Multi-Valent Vaccines on the Articles page at www.tennesseemeatgoats.com.

Vaccinations should be given to young kids at two months of age and then again at  three months of age (original injection plus booster) and then  annually.   Any goats that you bring into your herd (adults or kids) should be vaccinated immediately with first and second injections 30 days apart, regardless of age of the goats. Previously-vaccinated pregnant does should be boostered with one injection six to eight weeks before they give birth (or right  before breeding) so that their newborn kids will have up-to-date protection in their dams' milk.

Outbreaks of C. Perfringens Type A have occurred in goats in some areas of the USA where dairy cows have been raised. Type A is particularly deadly, causing Hemorrhagic Bowel Disease and killing up to 85% of affected cattle within 24 to 36 hours. The currently available c. Perfringens vaccine  for goats does  not  protect against Type A.     Some vaccine manufacturers will make an autogenous vaccine for Type A .   Like all autogenous vaccines, they tend to be expensive,   usually require minimum purchases in the 500 dose range, and must be obtained through a veterinarian.

Suzanne W. Gasparotto, ONION CREEK RANCH, Texas         9.1.23

Meat Goat Mania

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All information provided in these articles is based either on personal experience or information provided by others whose treatments and practices have been discussed fully with a vet for accuracy and effectiveness before passing them on to readers.

In all cases, it is your responsibility to obtain veterinary services and advice before using any of the information provided in these articles. Suzanne Gasparotto is not a veterinarian.Neither tennesseemeatgoats.com nor any of the contributors to this website will be held responsible for the use of any information contained herein.

The author, Suzanne Gasparotto, hereby grants to local goat publications and club newsletters, permission to reprint articles published on the Onion Creek Ranch website under these conditions: THE ARTICLE MUST BE REPRODUCED IN ITS ENTIRETY AND THE AUTHOR'S NAME, ADDRESS, AND CONTACT INFORMATION MUST BE INCLUDED AT THE BEGINNING OF THE REPRINT. We would appreciate notification from any clubs or publications when the articles are used. (A copy of the newsletter or publication would also be a welcome addition to our growing library of goat related information!)

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