Winter isn’t just for calving. Sheep and goat producers are gearing up for lambing/kidding season too.
The last month of gestation is a key time in gestational development. Fetuses are rapidly growing, and the body is mobilizing nutrients for milk production. Space in the rumen becomes a limiting factor. The rapidly developing lambs or kids push the uterus into the area normally occupied by the rumen, leaving less room for feed. Consequently, the dam may not have enough space in the rumen to fulfill all her energy needs (especially on an all-forage diet).
This negative energy balance can cause ketosis, also known as pregnancy toxemia. Pregnancy toxemia usually occurs in the last few weeks of gestation in thin or fat females and carrying a large single or multiples. Since the dam physically can’t eat enough to meet her energy needs, the body starts burning fat. This may seem like a great idea, but the body isn’t as efficient at burning fat for energy as it is with carbohydrates. This can result in a build-up of ketones in the liver and result in pregnancy toxemia.
The symptoms of pregnancy toxemia include:
- Going completely off feed
- Lying down and refusing to get up when approached
- Teeth grinding
You may also notice that the dam will have a ketone (sickly sweet) smell to their breath. Tremors, blindness or incoordination can also accompany the negative energy balance. Treatment options for ewes or does diagnosed with pregnancy toxemia revolve around getting energy into the dam. This generally means sugar (glucose) delivered via drench or IV, along with other electrolytes.
Providing your ewes or does with an energy source in late gestation can help prevent or even treat pregnancy ketosis. Distillers-based supplements, such as ULTRALYX®, provide a readily digestible source of energy for the rumen microbes. This, in turn, can help increase fiber digestibility in the rumen, making more energy available to the dam. At a time when the dam’s intake (rumen space) is restricted by fetal growth, maximizing every bite is key.
ULTRALYX offers several protein and mineral/vitamin supplements formulated especially for sheep and goats. Visit your local ULTRALYX dealer for more information on available ULTRALYX products or call 1-888-718-3493 to speak to an ULTRALYX representative.