Your Flock and Entertoxemia
If you raise sheep and goats for a living or for a hobby, you know that both of these types of animals can contract illnesses and diseases that are quite different from some of your run of the mill farm animal problems.
One of these potential diseases is “entertoxemia,” also known as the overeating or pulpy kidney disease.
What is Entertoxemia?
“Entertoxemia is a frequently severe disease of sheep and goats of all ages. It is caused by two strains of bacteria called Clostridium perfringens – the strains are termed types C and D. These bacteria are normally found in low numbers in the gastrointestinal tract of all sheep and goats,” explained the Colorado State University Extension. “These organisms are normally “laying low” in the small and large intestine – that is, they are present in relatively low numbers and appear to be in a relatively quiescent state in the normal, healthy animal.”
This can change, however, when new foodstuffs are introduced. What appears to trigger them to cause disease is a change in the diet of the animal. Most commonly, the change that triggers disease is an increase in the amount of grain, protein supplement, milk or milk replacer, and/or grass that the sheep or goat is ingesting. Collectively, these feeds are rich in starch, sugar, and/or protein. When unusually high levels of these nutrients reach the intestine, Clostridium perfringens undergoes explosive growth, increasing its numbers rapidly within the intestine. As the organism grows in number, it releases very potent toxins (bacterial poisons) that harm the animal. These toxins can cause damage to the intestine as well as numerous other organs. This can result in fatalities, particularly in the non-vaccinated animal or in the newborn lamb or kid whose dam has not been vaccinated.
How Do You Prevent Entertoxemia?
The easiest way to prevent entertoxemia in sheep and goats is to properly manage their diet. “…entertoxemia (overeating disease) is related to increased levels of grain in the diet, sudden changes in the diet, or improper balance of grain to forages. To prevent these problems, proper levels of grain supplementation should be followed.
Other control practices include availability of probiotics and/or buffers such as sodium bicarbonate in the diet, either free choice or in the grain mix,” according to information from Jodie Pennington of the University of Missouri Extension.
“Vaccination with the CDT vaccine will help prevent this disease. Show animals may be vaccinated for entertoxemia at five to six weeks of age, followed by a booster three weeks later. Additional vaccinations also may be needed, depending on how long the animal is shown and the level of grain feeding.”
According to an Agri-View article, the CDT vaccine protects against Clostridium perfringens type C and D and Clostridium tetani, which is tetanus.
This three-way vaccine is by far the most common used for sheep and goats.
Your veterinarian will be able to help you establish the proper feeding program for your flock, as well as a vaccination program to prevent entertoxemia from ever becoming a problem.