‘Domsiekte’, Ketosis, Pregnancy Toxaemia
By Dr Mackie Hobson BSc(Agric),BVSc

Tuesday, 14th November 2017

‘Domsiekte’ also called Ketosis is an uncommon condition of Angora goat ewes in the Karoo occurring in late pregnancy. The condition in most cases usually results in death after about 2-10 days.

What predisposes ewes to ‘domsiekte’?

  • Decreased nutrition during the last 2 months of pregnancy (when requirement are at their highest)
  • Restricted feed intake for a short period during late pregnancy (such as being placed in a shed during bad weather without feed or in shearing shed when being ‘cruched’ prior to kidding)
  • Any disease or internal parasites causing reduced feed intake in late pregnancy
  • Ewes with twins or trips
  • Any form of significant stress
  • Overly fat ewes may be more susceptible to the stress syndrome.

What causes the condition?

In late pregnancy the Angora ewe’s feed requirements rise to nearly twice maintenance levels. The glucose requirements of the foetus are large. If the requirements of the foetus are not being met then the ewe must use its fat reserves.

The result is hypoglycaemia and the formation of ketoacidosis and the clinical signs of ‘domsiekte’ due to depression of the central nervous system.

What clinical signs are seen?

The clinical signs progress over about 2-7 days. Since glucose is essential for proper functioning of the brain, a deficiency of glucose will result in nervous dysfunction and eventually coma and death

  • The ewe usually is on its own
  • Depressed loss of appetite
  • Lags behind flock
  • The ewe may appear blind, wander aimlessly
  • Laboured breathing and a nasal discharge
  • Sometimes tremors of facial muscles may occur
  • The foetus is usually born dead

This can progress to recumbence and the goat slips into a coma state.

From personal experience I have seen cases of Hepatic lipidosis (diagnosed on histopathology as the only abnormality) to account for a ‘Floppy kid’ or ‘Domsiekte’ type of syndrome in young 2-3 month old Angora kids. See ‘FLOPPY KID SYNDROME’ under Diseases on our website.


Treatment is often not effective as the condition when advance is usually irreversible. Ewes still eating have a chance of recovery.

  • Dose propylene glycol (60-100ml twice a day)
  • Dose tube 2 litres electrolyte solution or glucose solution
  • Inject calcium borogluconate (60ml under the skin)
  • Dextrose 50% i/v
  • Cortocosteroids (in early cases)
  • Caesarean (early stage)



  • Meet the nutritional needs of the ewe during late pregnancy.

This will also help

  • reduce abortions,
  • produce heavier kids which increases their chance of survival,
  • better udder development,
  • better colostrum and more milk production.

See Nutrition of the Pregnant and lactating ewe



  • Scan ewes and feed twins ewes separately.
  • Feed pregnant ewes when ‘crutching’ or kept in a shed during cold weather.

Diagnosis on Post Mortem

  • Ketonuria
  • Usually twins
  • Liver is pale/tan coloured and friable
  • Adrenal glands enlarged


.Dr Mackie hobson


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