STOMACH TUBING SICK GOATS
Sometimes the only way to save the life of a sick goat, adult or kid, is to stomach tube electrolytes, nutritional supplements, and/or medications into it, You must have the necessary supplies on hand and must know how to use them.
KIDS - Stomach tubing newborn and young kids is a bit more of a challenge than tubing adult goats because (a) kids can be more difficult to hold still without risking injury, and (b) it is easier to over-fill a kid's stomach and make the situation worse than it already is. Stomach tubing kids is easier if two people are available, but one person can do it if necessary.
Purchase a 60 cc weak-kid syringe and flexible stomach tube from Jeffers (1-800-533-3377). Cost is under $5.00. Buy several spare (approximately 16 inch) tubes to replace those that kids chew or bite. Jeffers carries them but you may have to ask for them; they are about $1.00 each.
Do not tube milk or colostrum into a kid who cannot hold its head up or whose body temperature is less than 100*F. It will DIE. Instead, use sugar and water mixtures (Karo syrup, molasses, or equal parts of 50% dextrose and water) to give it energy until it can sit upright. Read my article on weak and newborn kids on my website's Articles page: http://www.tennesseemeatgoats.com for details on how to save such kids.
Holding the tube beside the kid with the tip near the last rib and the syringe/tube connection nearest the mouth, determine how far it must be passed into the kid to reach its stomach. Remove the plunger from the syringe; you are not going to use it. Sit the kid upright on its sternum. Open the kid's mouth and slightly elevate its chin to stretch out the neck. Carefully place the tube into the kid's mouth and down the side (rather than down the center) of the throat. You will feel a slight *bump* as the tube passes through the throat. If you feel significant resistance, pull the tube out and start over.
Once the tube is inside the kid, put your ear to the open end of the 60 cc syringe and listen for gurgling/crackling/popping or whooshing-air sounds. These sounds indicate that you are in the stomach and not the lungs. Double check yourself by gently blowing into the open end of the syringe to get more sound feedback.
If the kid's body temperature is above 100*F, it can't or won't nurse it dam, and you decide to stomach tube, then dispense no more than one ounce (30 cc) of fluid into the kid at a time, lifting the kid's chin slightly to simulate its head position when nursing. If the kid is a small breed goat, less than 30 cc should be initially tubed. There is a valve in the kid's throat that opens and closes as it nurses that keeps fluid out of the lungs. The kid's head has to be in the proper uplifted position for this valve to work. Frequently pinch the flexible tubing with your fingers to stop the flow so that the kid is not overwhelmed. Take your time. Remember that you are dealing with a sick/weak baby goat. Kids are very good at spitting up stomach tubes, so make sure to keep the correct length of tubing inside the goat because fluid flowing through the tube can enter the lungs if it comes out prematurely. Before pulling the tube out, pinch it and hold the pinch securely for several seconds to cut off flow of liquids left in the tube before you pull it out of the kid. Keep the tube pinched until the entire tube has been pulled out. Rinse the syringe and stomach tube thoroughly and hang to dry for future use.
When tube feeding a weak or sick kid, limit the amount tubed at one time to no more than two ounces (60 cc). First-time tubing should be one ounce (30 cc) or less. Give the kid time to digest the liquids tubed into it. If the colostrum being tubed is very thick, it may be necesssary to thin the colostrum with a small amount of goat's milk for proper flow through the stomach tube. Cut a length of thick stiff wire equal to the length of the stomach tube for use in unstopping the tube.
How tell if a kid is full or needs additional nutrition: Place the kid with all four feet on the ground and feel the abdomen in front of the back legs with both hands. The stomach should feel firm but not tight. If the kid's belly feels 'squishy,' then he needs more colostrum, milk, or whatever is being tubed (or bottle-fed) into him. If you perform this procedure by holding the kid off the ground, he will always feel 'fuller' than he really is.
This is worth repeating: Do not tube milk or colostrum into a kid who cannot hold its head up or whose body temperature is less than 100*F. It will DIE. Instead, use sugar and water mixtures (Karo syrup, molasses, or equal parts of 50% dextrose and water) to give it energy until it can sit upright. See my article on weak and newborn kids on my website's Articles page: http://www.tennesseemeatgoats.com for details on how to save such kids.
ADULTS - Stomach tubing an adult goat is much easier than tubing a kid because the risk of threading the tube into the lungs is less.
Make your own adult stomach tube and mouthpiece using the instructions providing in my article of the same name on the Articles page at www.tennesseemeatgoats.com. I am unaware of a place to purchase a proper adult goat stomach tube.
(See page 2 of this issue of Meat Goat Mania for instructions and photos)
When a sick adult goat goes off-feed, it is difficult to syringe enough electrolytes and nutrients into it manually. Keep electrolytes in stock; Bounce Back and ReSorb are good choices. Keep some milk replacer on hand to add to electrolytes for protein and energy needed by a goat that is off-feed. Ensure or its generic equivalent will also work as a full-feed replacement.
Before inserting the tubing, gauge the distance from the goat's mouth to its back rib to determine how much tubing should be threaded down the goat's throat. Have another person hold the animal steady. This can be done by one person if there is no other option by using an adjustable sheep halter (Jeffers carries them) and tying the goat to a fence, but it is a physical challenge for everyone involved. Place the 8- to 10 inch piece of C-PVC into the goat's mouth as far back as possible to prevent the goat from biting the soft tubing into pieces and swallowing it. If this occurs, surgery is required to remove the tubing so that the goat does not die.
With funnel attached, uncurl the tubing and thread it through the PVC pipe. If you meet serious resistance, pull the tubing out and begin again. Listen for popping/air rushing sounds that tell you that the tube is in the rumen. Hold the funnel end of the tubing as high as possible for good gravity flow. Make sure that the tubing is straight and uncurled, then begin to pour the liquid into the funnel. If the fluid does not flow into the goat, pull the tube out a bit -- you've probably got it in too far and the open end of the tube is touching the wall of the rumen, blocking flow. When all of the liquid has been poured into the tube, wait several seconds, then pinch the tube before removing it so that no fluid enters the lungs as the tube is withdrawn. Immediately rinse the tubing, funnel, and PVC thoroughly and hangt to dry before needed again.
Every goat raiser must learn how to use stomach tubes on both adult and kid goats. It is easier to do than you think. One day a goat's life is going to depend upon your ability to use a stomach tube properly.
Suzanne W. Gasparotto
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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.
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