Onion Creek Ranch, Lohn, Texas
Suzanne W. Gasparotto, Onion Creek Ranch, Lohn, TX
Lohn, Texas
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WEAK AND ABANDONED NEWBORNS

Weak Kid Syndrome is the term used to described newborns who are unable to stand and or nurse -- regardless of cause. If the producer does not take steps to intervene quickly, the newborn will die. Kids thought to have been smothered or crushed by other goats usually were too weak to stand to nurse their dams and actually starved to death. Getting sufficient colostrum into a newborn during its first few hours of life is critical to its survival. Read this author's article entitled The Importance of Colostrum to Newborns on the Articles page.

Kids born prematurely for any reason, newborns of does infected with abortion organisms late in pregnancy, and hypothermic kids (low body temperature) experience Weak Kid Syndrome. Cold and/or wet weather strikes, the doe goes into labor, and her newborns are at risk. for hypothermia A weak kid cannot stand to nurse its mother. If the kid can stand at all, its back legs will be splayed apart from its body. A very weak kid will be limp and its neck may fold back like a bird's neck towards one side of its body. Such a kid is not only weak but is dehydrated, cold, and almost dead. Do not confuse this kid with the occasional newborn who develops early-onset fever due to its inability to regulate its body temperature during extremes of weather. A kid born with fever or developing it soon after being born has the ability but won't nurse until medication is given to stabilize its body temperature at the normal level. Goats with fever go "off feed." How to treat a newborn with fever will be explained later in this article.

With any sick goat, the first step is to take rectal temperature. Normal goat body temperature is 101.5*F to 103.5*F. Body temperature below 100*F means the kid is in critical condition. Fever is much easier to bring down than sub-normal body temperature is to bring up. Fill a sink with very warm water and put the kid's body in it, holding its head out of the water. Massage the kid's legs to stimulate blood circulation. A cold stressed newborn's body will shunt blood to essential organs (lungs, heart, kidneys -- not stomach) to sustain life, leaving its legs with poor circulation and therefore cold. When the chill is off the kid's body and its body temperature is at least 100*F, remove it from the warm water bath , towel the kid dry, and administer Lactated Ringers Solution under the skin (SQ) at each shoulder.

Lactated Ringers is an inexpensive veterinary prescription item that comes in an IV bag and is used to rehydrate the kid. Using a 60-cc syringe with a new sharp 18 gauge needle attached, withdraw 60 cc of LRS from the IV bag and warm it in a pot of water before giving it SQ to the kid. Test the temperature of the Lactated Ringers Solution on the inside of your wrist to make sure it is not too hot. Tent the kid's skin at the shoulder and inject 30 cc's Lactated Ringers Solution under the skin (SQ) per side. Do not use the same needle twice; LRS must be kept uncontaminated. In warm climates, Lactated Ringers Solution is best kept refrigerated, especially after having been opened.

Lactated Ringers comes in various sizes up to a 1000 mL IV bag, but do not give it intravenously to the kid. The goal is to hydrate the kid's body tissues -- not to put it in its bloodstream. The knot of fluid which appears under the skin will soon be absorbed by the dehydrated kid's body. Continue to give Lactated Ringers Solution until the kid's body quits absorbing it rapidly, but space the dosing over reasonable periods of time. Give the kid's body time to absorb and process the fluid. A newborn kid can live several hours on SQ fluids and without colostrum in its stomach. Rehydration to get the body temperature above 100*F is vital. LRS can be used frequently and safely in small amounts as described. Anytime a kid is dehydrated, whether from Weak Kid Syndrome, pneumonia, eColi, diarrhea, or other causes, Lactated Ringers is a good product to use for rehydration. Illnesses are accompanied by dehydration and fever is dehydrating. (Adults usually require stomach tubing because it is difficult to give them enough Lactated Ringers Solution SQ to resolve their dehydration problem.)

Once the kid has been hydrated with LRS, use a hand-held hair dry set on *low* temperature and blow warm air across the kid to help raise and hold its body temperature. Take care not to burn or further dehydrate the kid. For quick energy, put some molasses or Karo syrup on your finger and rub it onto the kid's gums and inside the kid's mouth. Stomach tube a weak kid who cannot hold its head up with a small amount of Karo syrup or molasses diluted in warm water or with a solution of equal parts of 50% Dextrose and water. A weak kid with sub-normal body temperature is able to absorb these simple sugars while it cannot digest colostrum or milk. Give the simple-sugar mixture slowly and in small amounts -- probably no more than two ounces at a time, depending up the size and breed of the kid. Do not put colostrum or milk into a weak kid that cannot hold its head up until its body temperature is above 100*F. Once the kid's rectal temperature is above 100*F, milk the kid's mother and stomach tube a small amount of colostrum into it, even if it cannot hold its head up. If the dam's colostrum is bad (stringy or bloody or won't flow when the seal over the teat has been carefully removed with a fingernail), thaw some colostrum that has been previously frozen in plastic soda-pop bottles or use colostrum replacer (not colostrum *supplement*) and tube feed the kid no more than two ounces at a time. It is important to use the dam's colostrum if the producer wants to graft the kid back onto its mother. Dams use smell to identify their kids, and the smell of the kid's feces must be *right* or she will reject it.

Colostrum should be thick and creamy in consistency and yellowish in color. Occasionally colostrum will be so thick that it is "untubable." Dilute very thick colostrum with a small amount of goat's milk so it will flow through a stomach tube. Colostrum is required to get the newborn's digestive system operating. A combination of five (5) cc's strong coffee (not too hot) mixed with molasses or Karo syrup can be given orally to *jump start* the kid. Register Distributing in Wade, North Carolina (1-888-310-9606) sells a terrific product called GoatADE which can be given to weak kids as a source of quick energy. Goat NutriDrench is a similar product. This writer prefers GoatADE.

Administer orally CMPK or MFO (calcium-magnesium-phosphorus-dextrose solution). Often given to does experiencing Hypocalcemia ("milk fever"), CMPK or MFO will help stabilize a weak kid whose calcium balance is off the from the stress of hypothermia. Use a one-cc syringe and give as little as one quarter of one cc (1/4 of one cc) at a time orally. Try to get one cc per pound of bodyweight of CMPK or MFO into the kid. Example: a six-pound kid should get up to six cc's of this product orally -- given very slowly. Also give from one to three cc's (1 to 3 cc's) of Fortified Vitamin B Complex -- again in small doses. Both of these products are available over the counter from suppliers such as Register Distributing (goatsupplies.netfirms.com) or Jeffers (1-800-JEFFERS) and are inexpensive. This writer thanks Donna Palmer, Crown Hill Nubians, Central Point, Oregon, for this information.

Stomach tubing is easy but can be off-putting to the producer. Have a vet or an experienced producer demonstrate how to stomach tube properly and read STOMACH TUBING on the Articles page. The stomach tube must go into the esophagus and not into the kid's lungs. If fluid is tubed into the lungs, the kid will contract pneumonia and die. All producers must know how to use a stomach tube on both kids and adult goats.

Now that the weak kid has received life-sustaining colostrum, wrap or cover it loosely in a towel, set a heating pad on *low* inside a box and place another towel over it, then put the kid on the towel-covered heating pad. In very cold weather, also use a heating lamp with a 150 to 200 watt clear bulb over which a metal guard has been placed so that the kid cannot touch the hot bulb. Infrared bulbs are suitable for extremely cold climates only and should be placed out of reach of the kid and any other animal. Test the heat with your hand and adjust height and wattage accordingly. Keep electrical cords out of reach. Set the kid upright on its sternum and turn it from side to side every 30 minutes to avoid pneumonia. Keep the kid hydrated; heating pads have a dehydrating effect. Use Lactated Ringers Solution for hydration as needed. A good indication of hydration is when the kid can urinate and when the kid's body no longer quickly absorbs the LRS when injected SQ.

If the producer is lucky enough to find a weak kid whose temperature is slightly sub-normal but more than 100*F and it can stand and hold its head up, then most of the foregoing treatments can be skipped and the kid can be placed at its dam's teat to nurse. Squeeze a bit of the dam's colostrum into the kid's mouth and it will usually begin to nurse if it has sufficient strength. Nursing takes energy. Check the kid's sucking response by putting your finger in its mouth. A kid that is only slightly *weak* will suck the finger. Remember that most weak kids won't be strong enough to nurse on their own but instead will require stomach tubing.

Cleft Palate is a lengthwise split in the roof of the kid's mouth. In most cases, it is a developmental problem rather than hereditary, but it is not repairable. The kid can live with a cleft palate for a while, but as it grows, the split will widen and the kid won't be able to chew or swallow its food well. The kid's growth will be stunted, it will have trouble breathing when fluid comes out its nose, and pneumonia will develop. A kid with a cleft palate should be euthanized. Check each kid at birth for a cleft palate.

Atresia Ani is lack of an anus (rectal opening) that prevents solid waste from being expelled from the kid's body. Like cleft palate, atresia ani in goats is usually a developmental problem rather than hereditary and is also not repairable. The kid should be euthanized immediately. Check each kid at birth for atresia ani.

Fever in newborn kids occurs occasionally. Kids with fever seem perfectly normal but *stupid* about nursing. A kid with fever won't nurse. Take the rectal temperature of any newborn that seems healthy but won't nurse. If fever is present, inject the kid with 1/2 cc Excenel RTU into the muscle (IM) and 2/10th of a cc of Banamine IM, then hydrate the kid with Lactated Ringers Solution as described above.

If the kid won't nurse and doesn't have fever, it may be a buckling who hasn't quite made the mental connection between food and nursing, so the producer will have to stomach tube him until he figures out how to nurse. Premature kids of both sexes have problems nursing because they are developmentally not ready and because their teeth (with which they hold the teat) are still in their gums. Preemies usually require stomach-tube feeding until their teeth erupt through the gums.

Entropion is an eyelid condition of some newborns. The eyelid and eyelashes are turned inward, scratching the eye and causing discomfort. See this author's article on Entropion on the Articles page.

Getting a kid to nurse a bottle takes time and patience. Sit or kneel and place the kid between your legs. Placing your thumb across the bridge of the kid's nose and your fingers under its chin, insert the nipple of the bottle into the kid's mouth, using your other hand. Put your thumb across its eyes to simulate the darkness of being under its mother's legs. Hold the nipple in the kid's mouth, moving it in and out of the mouth and squeezing gently to stimulate the kid's interest. Once the kid learns that the nipple delivers milk, it should begin to suck. Getting a newborn to accept a bottle is much easier than an older kid. By then the nipple does not feel like mom's teat and the older kid will fight acceptance of it. Sometimes it is necessary to let the kid get hungry by waiting six or eight hours before offering it a bottle. Do not let the kid have access to dam's milk or water during this waiting time. When the kid gets stronger, you can sit on an overturned five-gallon bucket, place the bottle under your knee, and the kid will feel like it is under its dam's legs nursing her teat. If at all possible, graft an orphaned or rejected kid onto another dam. Bottle babies are not desirable. They are expensive to raise, almost never fit in with the herd because they view themselves as people, and are dangerous when grown because they still perceive themselves as that eight-pound kid who used to climb into your lap. The most dangerous goat on your ranch is a grown male who still believes he is a bottle baby. Someday he will hurt someone unintentionally -- probably you.

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Important! Please Read This Notice!

All information provided in these articles is based either on personal experience or information provided by others whose treatments and practices have been discussed fully with a vet for accuracy and effectiveness before passing them on to readers.

In all cases, it is your responsibility to obtain veterinary services and advice before using any of the information provided in these articles. Suzanne Gasparotto is not a veterinarian.Neither tennesseemeatgoats.com nor any of the contributors to this website will be held responsible for the use of any information contained herein.

The author, Suzanne Gasparotto, hereby grants to local goat publications and club newsletters, permission to reprint articles published on the Onion Creek Ranch website under these conditions: THE ARTICLE MUST BE REPRODUCED IN ITS ENTIRETY AND THE AUTHOR'S NAME, ADDRESS, AND CONTACT INFORMATION MUST BE INCLUDED AT THE BEGINNING OF THE REPRINT. We would appreciate notification from any clubs or publications when the articles are used. (A copy of the newsletter or publication would also be a welcome addition to our growing library of goat related information!)

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