Frequently (and not so frequently) Asked Questions
BRIEF: Can you use Rumensin to control ketosis?
I have another goat nutrition question for you. The fine folks at Elanco recently sent me a notice regarding a change in their label for Rumensin. For goats, it says approved for all goats in confinement for the control of coccidiosis. It does not distinguish between dairy or meat or pet goats. A herd I work for has a few does die each year from ketosis/fatty liver. This year I just found out that to avoid problems with ketosis he has been feeding free choice grain during the entire dry period. I found this out while examining a doe down with fatty liver that is 1 week from freshening. Is there any reason that Rumensin wouldn't have the same effect on volatile fatty acid production in the rumen of goats as in cows? My main reason for feeding Rumensin would be to control ketosis. Do you know of anyone who feeds Rumensin to dairy goats? Do you have any idea of feeding rates and any precautions? Do you know how much of a production boost might be expected by feeding Rumensin to lactating does?
My PhD dissertation was entitled "Effects of Monensin Sodium on Lactating French Alpine Does". I have been waiting 18 years for someone to ask me about it! This was experimental work, and we dumped the milk from monensin-fed does. Rumensin was not then and is not now approved for feeding to lactating cattle or goats in the United States. The new label explicitly says "Do not feed to lactating goats." Read down there in the fine print under "CAUTION". We observed a non-significant increase in milk production (about 5%) due to monensin in the ad lib trial and no difference whatsoever when animals were restricted-fed. We saw a significantly decreased milk fat% (15%) when animals were fed ad lib with 18ppm monesin and and significant increase in milk protein% (10%) when they were restricted fed. I wish I had hit them with 33ppm in the ad lib trial, I probably would have seen more milk in that case, and a more severe milk fat% reduction. Both 18 and 33ppm were safe feeding levels. If goats break into the feed room and gobble down the premix, there could be a problem. As far as I know, no goats have yet died due to monensin, but they could. Since monensin increased propionate production relative to acetate, feeding it during the dry period might well help prevent fatty liver and ketosis of late pregnancy. I can send some reprints if you wish.