One of the lesser-known problems goat keepers face is overeating disease, also known as crop overload or enterotoxemia.
Overeating disease is a dangerous condition when goats consume too much concentrated feed, such as grains, pellet feeds, or sugars.
Unfortunately, it can quickly become life-threatening if left untreated.
In this blog post, we will explore what causes overeating disease and how it’s treated so you can best prevent and save your beloved goats from harm.
What Is Enterotoxemia (Overeating Disease) in Goats?
Enterotoxemia, or overeating and pulpy kidney disease, is a devastating condition caused by Clostridium perfringens type D.
This strain of bacteria lives in the soil and within the normal intestinal microflora of healthy sheep and goats.
Under certain conditions, these bacteria can rapidly reproduce, leading to high levels of toxin production that later cause enterotoxemia.
Lambs and kids are particularly vulnerable due to their lack of immunity, whereas adult animals have built up some degree of resistance from previous exposure over time.
What Causes Overeating Disease in Goats?
Unchecked consumption of grain-rich feeds and afflictions causing weakened immunity can make sheep and goats vulnerable to Enterotoxemia.
This bacterial outbreak leads to reduced immunity due to illness or stress and heavy parasitization with gastrointestinal parasites.
Poor diets high in carbohydrates but low on roughage can also lead to enterotoxemia while reducing motility within the digestive system, further compounding the risk for goats.
The condition is more likely when the animals are heavily parasitized, have decreased gastrointestinal motility, or their diets consist of too-high concentrations of carbohydrates with too-low roughage content.
What Are The Signs of Enterotoxemia in Goats?
Enterotoxemia can quickly and unexpectedly take the life of goats, especially kids.
Be on the lookout for the tell-tale signs.
Symptoms include lack of appetite, abdominal pain (kicking at the belly), lethargy, and watery or even bloody diarrhea.
Goats may repeatedly stand up and lay down, pant, lay on their sides, roll over, cry out, or move around their pen in an unusual way.
Early intervention may be successful, but prevention is always much more effective than treatment. Prepare yourself because treatment isn’t always effective, and your goat may not survive.
Goats far along in Enterotoxemia will lay on their side, stretch their neck up, and lay it over their withers.
This is caused by the toxins that are in the goat’s brain.
Once your goat lays this way, it’s a matter of minutes, occasionally hours, before they pass away.
Enterotoxemia progresses fast, so you may not be able to witness any of the signs or symptoms before you find your goat deceased.
This is especially true if it happens overnight.
How To Prevent Goats from Getting Enterotoxemia
Feed your goats a diet high in fiber and low in grains and added sugar.
Do not allow goats to overeat grains or sugary treats.
Grasses that are too high in sugar content may pose a threat too.
Do not drastically switch feed routines or types of feed.
All changes should be slow, incremental, and gradual.
You can also vaccinate against the toxins that occur in Enterotoxemia. These vaccines are sometimes called “three-ways” or “C-D-T” vaccines.
They contain Tetanus toxoid, plus Clostridium perfringens Types C and D.
It’s recommended to vaccinate bucks once a year; pregnant does about five weeks before kidding, and kids at eight weeks old.
Injections should be given by sub-cutaneous (best) or intramuscular (second best) injections.
Injecting high on the neck as close to the head works, or you can go behind the front leg in the goat’s “armpit” area.
How to Treat Enterotoxemia
It’s rare for treatment to be effective and available.
Finding veterinarians who can visit you in time to save your goat is difficult.
Most veterinarians use probiotics, analgesics, electrolytes, and antisera. Antisera is a combination of antibodies that will try to neutralize the bacteria’s toxins in your goat.
If your veterinarian uses one of these methods, they likely don’t see the Enterotoxemia as too far progressed, and the goat has a decent chance of survival.
IV fluids, antibiotics, or supplemental oxygen may be administered for serious cases.
If your veterinarian is using any of these methods, your goat’s condition is relatively severe, and you may need to prepare yourself for the possibility of a loss.
Frequently Asked Questions About Overeating Disease
Can Goats Recover From Enterotoxemia?
Goats can recover from Enterotoxemia if the symptoms are mild and intervention happens quickly.
Many times, it isn’t easy to save an animal’s life.
What Happens If a Goat Overeats?
If a goat overeats, it can suffer from grain poisoning (acidosis) or enterotoxemia (overeating disease).
Overeating Disease in Goats: Final Thoughts
When it comes to overeating disease, prevention is far more effective than even the best treatments.
You can vaccinate against Enterotoxemia, carefully monitor feed intake, and ensure that your goats don’t overeat grains or sugary foods.