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Kid Mortality on Ontario Goat Farms

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Title: Kid Mortality on Ontario Goat Farms
Author: Ratsep, Emily
Department: Department of Pathobiology
Program: Pathobiology
Advisor: Foster, Robert
Abstract: Ontario dairy goat producers identified neonatal mortality as a major economic and welfare issue, estimating that 20-30% of kids die prior to weaning. The actual level of Canadian dairy kid mortality and their main causes of death are unknown. There is scant data published from other countries. To address this lack of data, provide a mortality rate, and identify the causes of mortality for various age ranges, a questionnaire was mailed to 125 randomly sampled Ontario dairy goat producers. From consenting respondents, a final random sample of 27 farms (stratified by region and lactating herd size) participated in a cohort study over a 12-month period. During this period, postmortem examinations were performed on all kids that died between 0 and 120 days of age; abortions and stillbirths were excluded. A subsample of 22 % had ancillary testing performed. Results from 819 postmortems from 27 farms indicate that 10.9 % of kids died between 0 and 48 hours of age, 14.4 % died between 48 hours and 7 days of age, 60.0 % died between 7-56 days and 14.8% died between 56-120 days of age, with variation in cause of death by age group. Overall causes of death were pneumonia (36.0 %), diarrhea/enteritis (20.4 %), septicemia (17.3 %), and starvation (13.7 %), with other categories (in decreasing order of frequency) being: premature/small/weak, mesenteric/abomasal torsion, trauma, open as to cause of death, abomasal disease, dystocia, congenital deformity, disbudding injury, impaction, polyserositis, iatrogenic and encephalitis each causing less than 3.3 % of deaths. Pathogens identified from pneumonia cases included Mannheimia spp. and Mycoplasma spp.; Coxiella burnetii was found in the lungs of perinatal kids. Pathogens identified from diarrhea/enteritis cases were primarily Escherichia coli and Clostridium perfringens. Results indicate that infectious diseases, pneumonia, diarrhea/enteritis, and septicemia, are the most prevalent causes of death for kids up to 4 months old in Ontario herds. The majority of deaths occurred in kids >48 hours old. This study will benefit the health of the dairy goat industry in Ontario, and internationally, by providing the rate and causes of mortality at various ages in Ontario dairy goat kids.
Date: 2020-08
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