If your doe is shivering like she’s cold, don’t assume she needs a sweater. Your first guess should be milk fever.
Hypocalcemia, commonly known as milk fever, is a calcium deficiency found in goats and cattle. Most often seen in newly freshened does, milk fever can also be found in goats who are preparing to kid, are from high production lines and even in those not being milked at all.
The most common signs of milk fever are shivering during or after milking, wobbly legs – the goats seems off balance and may run into things, and general lethargy. Other symptoms can include poor appetite, poor milk production, decreased body temperature, rumen dysfunction, weakness or an inability to stand. Left untreated, milk fever can cause death.
Goats with milk fever should be immediately treated with supplemental calcium. Calcium Gluconate given orally, Tums, high calcium food stuffs such as molasses, parsley, bok choy, tofu, kale and alfalfa can be added to the goats diet. There are also calcium supplements on the market specifically for treatment of calcium deficiency. If the doe has a severe case (doe is down), a commercial or veterinary product is the way to go. If the doe is shivering but otherwise appears healthy, a more natural approach can be taken but it is imperative that the calcium level be returned to normal as soon as possible.