The radio program "Voces del viento", of the Zapala Rural Extension Agency broadcast by Radio Nacional, interviewed Dr. Agustín Martínez about the causes, effects and possible management of this disease, which affects sheep and goats in winter.
On the occasion of the COVID-19 pandemic, the FONTAGRO project "Innovation and intensification for adaptation to climate change in extensive family livestock farming" has developed an agenda of radio programs and webinars with the aim of bringing the knowledge generated to producers, technicians and the general public.
On this occasion, Dr. Agustín Martínez in the radio program broadcasted by Radio Nacional, of the Zapala Rural Extension Agency of INTA, talks about the Toxemia of Pregnancy, a disease that occurs in sheep and goats during the winter season and is diagnosed annually in the Patagonian region by the Regional Animal Health System (SIRSA) with the support of the FONTAGRO project.
What is Pregnancy Toxemia?
It is a metabolic disease that occurs when there is a negative energy balance that can be triggered by: advanced pregnancy, double or triple pregnancy, low intake in quality and quantity of food, extreme cold temperatures, snow and rain storms, etc., the animal is not able to compensate with food the energy it expends, so it begins to consume its fat reserves. If this situation continues, the liver is not able to metabolize all the fat, so it accumulates in this organ forming fat "droplets" inside the cells. This alteration produces an intoxication by "ketone bodies" that affect the nervous system of the animal in the last phase of the disease and that explain the observed nervous symptoms.
What are the causes that can lead to Pregnancy Toxemia?
Herds that have high energetic requirements due to an advanced gestation with low temperatures during the winter.
An early service or by theft, and poor nutritional planning are the management practices that lead to the appearance of the disease.
The marked and persistent inclement weather, with low temperatures that increase the energy requirements of the ewe to try to maintain its temperature and that are not covered by the poor supplementation received.
What recommendations are there to avoid this disease?
It is recommended to program the service of the ewes to arrive at the pre-lambing period with good forage availability or to make sure to have quality supplementation and offer it in adequate quantity. In addition, it is suggested to take into account the forecasts of inclement weather such as snow, cold, wind or rain. This way you will be able to anticipate and adjust the diet according to the animals. If you are planning to intensively manage pregnant mothers, be sure to offer them the necessary quantity and quality of feed to be able to face gestation.