How To Tube Feed a Kid Goat
Goat kids are fun to raise, but like any animal they do sometimes get sick. When a young kid is too sick to nurse or suck a bottle, sometimes you have to feed him through a feeding tube that is put directly in their stomach. Sometimes they are found just to weak to swallow, and need warm fluids to revive them. Tubing a kid if done correctly is preferable to using a syringe to squirt the liquid in their mouths. This keeps the kids from aspirating any medication or milk, which could lead to pneumonia or death. Aspirate means to inhale into the lungs. Without intervention a kid that is too weak to nurse will not survive long.
There are several different diseases and conditions that can cause a kid goat not to be able to nurse. The first is finding a newborn that has been chilled, or gotten to cold before it could be dried off and nurse. This is an emergency situation and steps must be taken immediately to warm the kid and prevent death. E. Coli is a disease that causes severe diarrhea and dehydration. Goat kids are also susceptible to Coccidia, and other parasites. Sometimes kids have oxygen deprivation due to dystocia, which is misrepresentation at birth. These kids need to be tube fed to provide essential nutrients until the kid has time to heal. Thiamin deficiency polio, Enterotoxemia, and Floppy kid also leave a kid unable to nurse.
First step is to gather your supplies. Decide what you need to tube your goat with. Does the kid need Clostrum? Electrolytes, B Vitamins, probiotics, goat milk or milk replacer can also be used. For a newborn kid, I would not suggest giving more than 2-4 ounces of any fluid at one time. An older kid you can give 4 - 6 ounces of fluids at a time, depending on his size. You will need a feeding tube and 60cc syringe with an irrigation tip. These can be obtained from the vet or anywhere they sell veterinarian supplies. The tube enables you to put the fluids directly into the kid's rumen. The Syringe is used to hold the fluid before it travels down the tube. You will also need a cup of clean warm water, and a small syringe 3 cc or 12 cc work fine. Finally you will need a bowl or something to clean your equipment up in, disinfectant, and hot water.
The first step, after assembling your supplies is to measure how far you need to insert the tube. Measure from the kid's nose, to the center of the ear, and back down to the chest floor. Mark the tube at this point. This is the maximum depth you need to insert the tube. Hold the kid securely, and dip the end of the tube in water to soften it. Insert the tube from the center of the kid's mouth, over the tongue, and down the throat till you reach the mark. You should be able to feel the tube pass down the esophagus. You can feel it down the side of the trachea or windpipe. The kid should be still able to cry with the tube inserted. If the kid is awake and crying, and suddenly stops while you are inserting the tube, withdraw the tube until it can cry and try again. It is very important that you get the tube in the correct spot. If you pour fluids in the kid's lungs, he will die.
There are several different ways you can make sure the tube is in the right spot. Smell the end of the tube; you should smell stomach smells - like old milk. Remember a newborn is not ruminating so you will not smell rumen smells. Listen at the end of the tube; you should her little crackles, not breath sounds. If you hear breath sounds withdraw the tube. Another way to make sure is to stick the end of the tube into a cup of water. If it blows bubbles you are in the lungs. A similar check is to blow lightly into the tube. Watch the kids and make sure the lungs don't inflate when you blow.
Before you add the syringe. Pour 3-5 cc of water in the tube. A small 3 cc or 12 cc syringe works well for this. If the tube is in the trachea the kid should cough. If it is in the esophagus he should still be able to cry. But, be extremely careful if the kid is completely flat or comatose. A comatose kid can not swallow, cry or may not even cough. His reflexes are not working. Rely on checking for breath sounds and bubbles. If the kid is comatose he needs to be revived quickly, such as the case of a chilled down kid. Time is an important factor, if you don't get warm fluids and sugars into the kid quickly he will die.
Attach the syringe to the end of the tube. I like to just use the outside of the syringe and let gravity push the fluids into the kid's rumen. This prevents you from pushing the fluids in too fast. When you have completed your checks and are sure that the tube is in the correct place, add 5cc of water in the syringe. The water should flow freely down the tube. If not withdraw the tube about a 2" and push it back in. The tube may be against the wall of the stomach or kinked. If the water flows down the tube without resistance, slowly add 2 -3 ounces of fluid into the syringe. Let gravity push the fluid down the tube, hold the syringe up above the kid's head. This is easier done with two people until you get accustomed to the procedure.
After all the fluids have flowed out of the syringe, add 10 cc water to rinse the syringe. This prevents any medications or milk from accidentally being aspirated by the kid when the tube is being removed. A kid can survive if he aspirates a little water it will be absorbed by the lungs. Milk in the lungs is likely to cause pneumonia. Remove the syringe from the end of the tube. If you cover the end of the tube while it is being removed it will keep any fluid left in the tube from leaking out and being aspirated. Just like if you hold your thumb over a straw and remove it from your soda. The soda stays in the straw.
Remove the tube slowly, don't pull it out fast or jerk it. This can damage the soft tissues. Place the kid down on his brisket, sitting up, never laying on its side. If the kid is flat, from floppy kid, or is comatose from being cold, roll a towel or rag up to prop his head on. This way if they cough up any fluids, they will not aspirate any into their lungs.
Gather all your supplies immediately place the tube and syringe in a bowl of soapy hot water, we use a disinfectant such as Nolvason or betadine. Clean all equipment and rinse well. We wash all of our tubing equipment in a stainless steal bowl, then pour boiling water on it to help sterilize it. Be careful not to burn yourself.
Newborn kids need to be fed every 2 - 4 hours. Especially if they are sick. Frequent small amounts of nutritious fluids are preferred over large amounts more infrequently. This is especially for kids that are sick.