White Muscle Disease(Nutritional Muscular Dystrophy)

Goats June 29, 2012 Print Friendly and PDF


White muscle disease is caused by a deficiency of vitamin E and selenium. It is regional, occurring primarily in areas where selenium is deficient in the soil. It often occurs when feeding silage or old hay. Kids may be born with a selenium deficiency and be still born or too weak to nurse.

Clinical signs in kids: The disease is characterized by stiffness, weakness and trembling. The back legs become stiff and useless. Affected kids are sometimes observed coughing or having milk run out the nose after drinking due to the involvement of muscles used with swallowing. Kids may also develop muscle stiffness after exercise. Death can be sudden if cardiac musccle is affected. If left untreated, the disease can result in death of the animal.

Clinical signs in adults: Chronic infections such as mastitis, retained placenta, failure to conceive, abortions and other reproductive disorders. Treatment for clinical cases includes injection(s) of selenium and vitamin E. Prevention includes oral supplementation with vitamin E/selenium primarily through trace mineral loose salt or commercial mineral mixes.

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This work is supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, New Technologies for Ag Extension project.