Milk Fever

Saturday, February 13, 2010

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.


6 Responses to “Milk Fever”

  1. What are the more natural approaches to healing this??? One of my does continues to have a low body temp and shivering though she is happy and healthy in other ways. She started this while tapering off milking and still has shivering spells as a dry doe. She devours minerals but I don’t think she’s getting enough calcium . . . vets have told me it is not milk fever, but my better judgement is still concerned.

    • NJ

      It sounds like early or mild milk fever. Feed her high levels of high calcium foods. Molasses has the highest calcium level followed by tofu, parsley, bok choy and kale. Feed her as much as she’ll eat but if it doesn’t improve noticeably in a couple of days, get a calcium supplement like those I spoke of. You can give her Tums if she’ll eat them but mine don’t like them – no matter what the flavor. You can also give her milk which will help. has additional information and natural remedies you may find helpful.

  2. […] bind the calcium in a goat’s system.  A toxic reaction in goats would likely look a lot like milk fever, or hypocalemia, a calcium deficiency associated with the onset of lactation.  Symptoms typically […]

  3. Dawn

    can mother goat still nurse kit if she has milk fever?

    • NJ

      It’s not recommended. Because milk fever, aka hypocalcemia, is a deficiency of calcium, to continue to drain the doe’s calcium by milking, whether for kid or human use, will put additional strain on the doe. The best course of action would be to bottle feed the kids while treating the doe and once she’s back to health, let the kids back on her.

  4. KM

    Has anyone ever tried giving Rolaids, high in Calcium and Magnesium??


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All Things Goat was created by Naimhe Jeanne (Nee-Vah Jeen,) of Illinois, and Martha Ann, of Vermont, who believe in the humane treatment of goats whether they are pets or raised for milk, meat or fiber. Through news, profiles, recipes and editorials, All Things Goat illustrates how our caprine friends improve the quality of life for many worldwide. Our All Things Goat intern is Lela Perez, of Killeen, Texas.

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