Onion Creek Ranch, Lohn, Texas
Suzanne W. Gasparotto, Onion Creek Ranch, Lohn, TX
Lohn, Texas
Onion Creek Ranch "Chevon, cabrito, goat... No matter what you call it, it is the HEALTHY red meat™
Onion Creek Ranch

Visit us on FaceBook
for current news


Weak Kid Syndrome is the term used to describe newborns who are unable to stand and/or nurse,  regardless of cause.   Weak Kid Syndrome also describes any young kid that becomes hypothermic (sub-normal body temperature, specifically 100*F or less) and is low on energy because it didn't get to nurse its dam long enough or at all.   A weak kid doesn't have the strength to suckle.  Nursing takes energy that a weak kid doesn't have.   If you do not  intervene quickly, the kid  will die.

There are multiple reasons why  Weak Kid Syndrome might occur.   Insufficient milk resulting from  competition with   stronger siblings, mastitis or congested udder in its dam, and failure to bond with or being separated from her are some of the obvious reasons.  Kids thought to have been smothered or crushed by other goats usually were too weak to stand to nurse their dams and probably  starved to death.   Tiny stomachs cannot miss feedings and survive.

Kids born prematurely for any reason, newborns of does infected with abortion organisms late in pregnancy, and hypothermic kids (sub-normal body temperature) experience Weak Kid Syndrome. Cold and   cold and 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. A dam is not going to waste her energy or colostrum on a kid that cannot stand. 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. A kid born with fever or who develops fever soon after being born has the ability to suck but won't nurse until medication is given to bring its body temperature back to normal.   Goats with fever go "off feed."   This is why taking rectal temperature is so important.

The first thing that you should do with any sick goat (kid and adult)  is to take rectal temperature. Normal goat body temperature is 101.5*F to 103.5*F. Body temperature below 100*F means the goat is in critical condition. Fever is much easier to bring down than sub-normal body temperature is to bring up.

Getting sufficient colostrum into a newborn during its first few hours of life is critical to its survival. See my article entitled The Importance of Colostrum to Newborns on my website's Articles page. Starvation (sometimes  combined with hypothermia) is one of the most common causes of  death  in a newborn or young kid.

Do NOT put colostrum into the stomach of a kid whose body temperature is under 100*F. If you do, it is likely to die. When the body is struggling to stay alive, the stomach is not  an essential part of survival.   Blood flow  is diverted  to vital organs like heart, lungs, liver, and brain. If you put colostrum or milk into the kid under these circumstances, there will be no blood flow to the stomach to assist in digestion, the colostrum or milk will remain  undigested, toxicity will set in, and the kid will die.

Fill a sink with very warm water and put the kid's body in it, holding its head out of the water. Gently massage the kid's legs to stimulate blood circulation. When the chill is off the kid's body and its body temperature is at least 100*F (sometimes this requires multiple sinks full of warm water and repeated re-taking of rectal temperature) , remove the kid 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. Do NOT microwave it.  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 up to 30 cc's Lactated Ringers Solution under the skin (SQ) per side. Use an 18 gauge needle to keep the skin tented so that the needle does not bend and nick the kid's flesh. Do not use the same needle twice.  Lactated Ringers Solution  must be refrigerated after opening or it will become contaminated.

Lactated Ringers comes in various sizes up to a 1000 mL IV bag, but do not give it intravenously to the kid unless you know how to use an IV.  Most goat raisers  use LRS subcutaneously.   The knot of fluid which appears under the skin will soon be absorbed by the dehydrated kid's body. Spacing the dosing over reasonable periods of time, continue to give Lactated Ringers Solution until the kid's body quits absorbing it rapidly. 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 and getting  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. Many illnesses are accompanied by dehydration,  and fever is always dehydrating. Do not trust the skin pinch test to determine dehydration.  Goats dehydrate quickly.

Once the kid has been hydrated with LRS, use a hand-held hair dryer 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. Dyne, a high-calorie oral energy supplement for dogs, can be used instead of Karo syrup or molasses.

Using a weak-kid syringe and stomach tube (without which you can NOT properly raise goats), mix equal parts of 50% dextrose solution and water and stomach tube it into the kid.  Alternatively,  use a weak solution of Karo syrup and water or molasses and water.  Give this simple-sugar mixture slowly and in small amounts,    probably no more than one to two ounces at a time, based upon  the weight  of the kid.    A weak kid with sub-normal body temperature is able to absorb these simple sugars while it cannot digest colostrum or milk.

Do NOT stress the kid by drawing  the liquid into a syringe and putting the syringe in its mouth.  The kid doesn't need this additional stress.  Be prepared.  Have the supplies and equipment that you  need on hand.

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 stable above 100*F, milk the kid's mother and stomach tube a small amount of colostrum into it. If the kid is a newborn and 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 your  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 one to two ounces at a time.

It is important to use the dam's colostrum  (or milk) if you expect to graft the kid back onto its mother. A dam uses smell to identify her kid;  the kid's feces must smell like her milk  or she will reject it

Colostrum should be  creamy in consistency and yellowish in color. Occasionally colostrum will be so thick that it cannot be tube-fed. Dilute very thick colostrum with a small amount of goat's milk (or water) so it will flow through a stomach tube. Colostrum is required to get the newborn's digestive system operating.

Weak kids  benefit from oral  administration of CMPK or MFO (calcium-magnesium-phosphorus-dextrose solution).     CMPK or MFO helps  stabilize a weak kid whose calcium balance is off from the stress of hypothermia. Use a one-cc syringe and give  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 over several hours.  Also give from one to three cc's (1 to 3 cc's) of Fortified Vitamin B Complex injected into the muscle (IM) or subcutaneously (SQ) -- again in small doses over several hours.  Thanks to Donna Palmer, Crown Hill Nubians, Central Point, Oregon, for this tip.

Premature kids or "dummies" who don't catch on to nursing quickly can benefit from having from one-half to one cc (1/2 to 1 cc) of Vitamin B1 (thiamine) injected IM or SQ to "wake up the brain." Girls born prematurely have teeth than are about half erupted from their gums, while premature boys usually have all their teeth still in the gums.  Always check the kid's teeth and gums to determine if it is premature before you  take any action.

Stomach tubing is easy but can be a big stressor to you the first time you do it. Read STOMACH TUBING on the Articles page of my website www.tennesseemeatgoats.com. The stomach tube must go into the esophagus and NOT through the trachea (windpipe) into the kid's lungs.  If fluid is tubed into the lungs, the kid will contract pneumonia and die. You must know how to use a stomach tube on both kids and adult goats. You might kill the kid by stomach tubing incorrectly, but it will  die if you don't try.

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. Today's digital heating pads have automatic cut-offs, so unless you have an old-style heating pad that runs until you turn it off,  buy a farrowing pad from Jeffers (1-800-533-3377) that provides a constant and even source of heat.

In very cold weather, you may need to 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.

Place  the kid upright on its sternum and turn it from side to side every 30 to 60 minutes to avoid pneumonia. Heating pads are dehydrating so keep the kid hydrated. Use Lactated Ringers Solution for hydration as needed. A good indication of hydration is when the kid urinates frequently  and when its body no longer quickly absorbs the LRS when given subcutaneously at its shoulders.

If you are lucky enough to find a weak kid whose rectal temperature is hovering  at  100*F  and  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.  Most  weak kids won't be strong enough to nurse on their own and will require stomach tubing.

Weak kids must be constantly monitored for several days. Wait to put  them back in the herd with their dam and other kids for at least several days until they have stabilized and you are confident they won't experience a set-back.

Suzanne W. Gasparotto, ONION CREEK RANCH, Texas    4.1.23

Meat Goat Mania

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!)

Home PageEmail UsSALE BARNPresent and FutureGoatCamp™Myotonic Goats
Tennessee Meat Goats™TexMaster™ GoatsWhich breed is right for you?Health & Management Articles
ChevonTalk Discussion GroupLinksRegistrationMeat Goat Mania

Shop for the Best Discounted Pet, Equine, & Livestock Supplies!

All information and photos copyright © Onion Creek Ranch and may not be used without express written permission of Onion Creek Ranch. TENNESSEE MEAT GOAT ™ and TEXMASTER™ are Trademarks of Onion Creek Ranch . All artwork and graphics © DTP, Ink and Onion Creek Ranch.