FAQ:  Overeating Disease (Enterotoxemia)
Maxine Kinne

Q.  At times my 4-month-old pet Pygmy takes in massive amounts of hay or water and looks like he swallowed a melon. Is this overeating disease? 

A.  Overeating disease, another name for enterotoxemia, is something quite different from a healthy appetite. Lots of hay and fresh water are just the ticket for your little guy!

A ruminant has a four-chambered stomach, of which the rumen is eventually about 80%. Gazillions of good bacteria and protozoa live in the rumen and help digest solid food by fermentation. Enterotoxemia can occur when good rumen microbes die off quickly. Dying bacteria produce toxins that poison the goat. This can happen when the diet is abruptly changed or during times of illness or stress. Feed changes or new feeds should always be introduced gradually over 7-10 days to give the rumen microbes time to adapt.

The good new is that goats can be vaccinated to prevent enterotoxemia with a product called Clostridium perfringens types C&D toxoid. Two or three injections at 4-week intervals provide initial protection, then boosters are needed once or twice a year.Your veterinarian can do this for you. Tetanus vaccine is included in some brands, and goats should have that, too. CD/T is the only vaccine most goats need.

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