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Causes of Abortions in Goats

Abortions are most commonly seen during the final 2 months of pregnancy. Does are normally very fertile animals but may have a higher incidence of abortion compared to other farm animals. Abortion rates of 5% are common and rates below that are considered good. Many infectious agents, events causing stress, drugs, nutritional deficiencies and toxic plants may be the cause of a Doe aborting. Infectious causes may be the common  reason for a Doe aborting and should be considered the most likely cause if a herd has an abortion outbreak. In an infectious abortion, it is most often a placental disease.

Chlamydia -

Chlamydial abortion is one of the most common causes of infectious abortion in goats. Pigeons and sparrows may be the carrier of the organism that causes Chlamydia and ticks or insects may play a role in the transmission. Non-pregnant Does may become infected but the organism can stay dormant creating little or no immune response. The organism may stay dormant until the Doe becomes pregnant resulting in both an abortion and the immune response. Inflammations of the placenta caused by the infection prevent  the normal transfer of nutrients across the placenta and that results in the fetal death and it's abortion. After a Doe aborts, she will normally develop a good immune response that eliminates the Chlamydia from her uterus normally within 3 months of the abortion. The infectious organism does not proliferate and attack the placenta until around 90 days after breeding. Chlamydia has been found in a buck's semen 29 days after being experimentally infected however the primary modes of transmission are from vaginal or uterine secretions of aborting Does and Does shedding the organism the following year. During future breeding seasons, the Does normally show no signs of infertility and the natural immunity following an abortion lasts around 3 years.

In newly infected herds, 25% to 60% of the Does may abort.  In herds that have been exposed to the infection, abortion rates drop to between 1% to 15% and the new abortions generally are in new animals to the herd. The abortions generally occur in the last month of the pregnancy but may happen as early as day 100 of pregnancy. Does may show loss of appetite, run fever and show a bloody vaginal discharge 2-3 days before aborting.

Toxoplasmosis

 One of the most common parasitic infections in goats. This is associated with a coccidium of cats. Cats become infected by consuming uncooked meat scraps, placentas, and small rodents. Goats become infected by eating grass, hay or garin contaminated by cat feces.It can result in abortion, stillbirths and weak kids. However, reducing exposure to cat may help but in may lead to an increase in rats that carry other diseases. Animals remain infected for life and may abort in future pregnancies so you may want to cull infected Does. Feeding decoquinate or monensin throughout pregnancy may reduce the incidence of abortion. These are often used in goat medicated feed.

Q Fever

a bacterial disease capable of being transmitted from animals to people caused by Coxiella burnetii, a rickettsial organism. C. burnetii may be found in sheep, cattle, goats, cats, dogs, some wild animals (including many wild rodents), birds, and ticks. Animals shed the organism in their urine, feces, milk, and especially in their birth products. Abortion or stillbirths occur in late pregnancy, but only when the placenta has been severely damaged.


Listeriosis

caused by listeria monocytogenes an ubiquitous organism that may be found in soil, water, plant litter and digestive tract of ruminants. Abortions occur in the last 2 months. Abortions have been attributed to the feeding of contaminated silage. Grazing on boggy, high-pH soils can also cause the infection.