Common Causes Of  Miscarriage In Goats

Most goat herds can generally suffer up to a 5% abortion rate without cause for serious worry but if you start to notice that the percentage of miscarriages in your herd has escalated above this level then it may well be time to start taking action.

There are 3 major causes of goat miscarriage that, as well as being fatal to the foetus, can also be extremely detrimental to the health of the doe and can have lasting consequences if not treated appropriately.

Campylobacter (Vibrio)
This unpleasant infection is orally transmitted via infected faeces and is highly contagious to both goats and humans. The doe will generally miscarry in the last 6 weeks to a month before her due date and the kid will more than likely be stillborn or very, very weak. Once ingested, the organism will work its way along the intestinal tract towards the uterus and, subsequently, the foetus. It will, in turn, cause the foetusís body cavities to fill with fluid and eventually cause the foetus to abort. Mum will also be severely affected by diarrhoea, a vaginal discharge, possible depression, a uterine infection and a retained placenta.

To help prevent further spreading of the infection ensure that the herdís water source is clean and away from any possible cause of infection, remove all material discarded after birthing such as the placenta, even in healthy goats, and provide an antibiotic treatment programme for the entire herd.

Chlamydia is spread through the faeces of infected birds and bloodsucking insects or parasites such as ticks. The kid will be aborted around 3 weeks before the due date and will more than likely be either stillborn or extremely weak. Once the bacteria enters the doeís bloodstream it attacks the placenta, causing it to inflame, and preventing the foetus from receiving the sustenance and nutrients required for development. Around 3 days before the miscarriage the doe will exhibit a bloody, vaginal discharge and after she has aborted she will have a discharge which then contains the Chlamydia infection and will most certainly need treatment to prevent loss in further pregnancies as well as the spreading of the infection.

This is an incredibly dangerous disease which can also have the same outcome for a pregnant human female as it does the goat and is caused by ingesting anything that is contaminated by the faeces of a cat carrying T. gondii. The bacteria makes itís way to the placenta of a pregnant goat where it will multiply and then be passed on to the foetus. This can result in still birth, the birth of very weak kids or even mummification of the foetus. The doe can also suffer some terrible side effects including muscle spasms, respiratory problems, gastroenteritis, jaundice and even inflammation of the brain.
Itís also well worth investing in ultrasound equipment so that you have a chance to detect these infections before they get out of hand. It may not be possible to save the infected foetus of even the doe but you can take steps to protect the rest of the herd and hopefully take the appropriate action before any further infection sets in.



 Miscarriage & Aborting Ė in Goats

Sometimes, no matter how much care we give to a doe, she may miscarry or abort.

I have heard it said that it is common for goats to miscarry.  This is not true.  There is always a reason that causes the doe to miscarry, or abort, and there is a lot we can do to prevent it; such as providing good holistic health care, proper feed and housing, and good prenatal care.  Though, sometimes abortions do happen and there may have been nothing you could have done to prevent it.   There is not always an obvious explanation for why a doe miscarries.

The following are some things that could cause a goat to miscarry or abort:

         Injury- Getting rammed/slammed by another goat causes miscarriages much more often than people think.

         Moldy Hay or Feed

         Incorrect use of medications or herbs

         Pregnancy Toxemia


         Malformed fetus

         Infections such as:

o        Chlamydia or "Pink eye" is a major cause of miscarriages.

o        Toxoplasma - a coccidia found in cat feces.

o        Salmonella

o        Mycoplasma

o        John's disease

o        Listeria


Symptoms of impending miscarriage depends on the cause

Symptoms that the doe has aborted may be quite obvious, or not so obvious; again, it depends no the reason for the miscarriage. We had had miscarriages where all we ever saw was a bit of blood on the tail. The doe exhibited no other signs or symptoms of anything being wrong, and the doe never seemed to be in distress of any sort.  These abortions, we believe, were caused by the doe getting rammed by a herdmate.

If we have no idea why a doe aborted, we find that it's good practice to give her a course of Immune Support Tincture and keep a very close eye on her for at least a week. The others, we are pretty sure, were caused by the doe getting rammed by another doe.

If the doe miscarries, she may or may not go back into heat that season. With the few miscarriages we have had, the doe did not go back into heat until the regular breeding season the following Fall.

When a doe does abort, be especially kind to her because she can get quite depressed (just like a human would if they lost their child).

You may find it comforting to know that does that abort can go on to have full term pregnancies the following years with no problems at all.

Milk Fever

Milk fever is a misnomer. It is not a fever, and doesn't always have to do with milk production. It is actually low blood calcium, which is known as hypocalcaemia. The goat may have plenty of calcium in her bones and in the diet, but due to a sudden increase in calcium and phosphorus requirements (due to impending kidding or lactation) she is unable to reabsorb the calcium she needs from her bones or absorb it from her diet.

It is important to note that hypocalcaemia is not only relative in immediate pre/post kidding situations. Many people think it can happen only to heavy milkers right before or right after kidding. This is not the case. Milk fever runs in heavy milk lines, but the doe dose not have to be in heavy milk, or milking at all, to come down with milk fever.


Calcium Gluconate 23% Solution: 8 to 12 oz. given orally. Repeat 5-8 oz, three times a day until the doe is eating and symptoms are subsiding.