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Reviving Chilled Newborn Goat

I have a method for reviving a very chilled newborn goat (kid).

Sharing of my method is not intended to replace veterinary advice.

Planning the breeding of a goat to ensure kidding occurs during warmer weather is optimal, but sometimes the best laid plans do not fall into place.   A dam may become confused with twins, triplets, or she simply may lose interest (or never gain it with a newborn).  What that being said, there is a necessity for knowing how to revive a very chilled newborn goat kid.

Facts first:

  • Normal goat temperature is 102-104
  • A newborn kid will not retain its own body heat until it has nutrition in its digestive system (colostrum)
  • A newborn goat kid must receive sufficient colostrum within the first 4 hours of their life (to retain body heat, get their digestive system working, immunities built, and to protect from health problems that can occur within their first few days or weeks)
  • A very chilled goat kid cannot, and will not, nurse.  Do not attempt to drip liquids down their throat.  If they are very chilled, to the point they cannot nurse, the liquids will more than likely reach their lungs and drowning can occur, or pneumonia will set in very rapidly.

A thermometer is the best method for taking a goat’s temperature, however, inserting your finger in a newborn’s mouth, touching the back of their tongue area, is a very good indicator of the kid’s temperature.

When a chilled newborn kid is found, depending upon how cold they are, how wet they are, and if they have had any colostrum, they may exhibit signs of near-death such as extreme legarthy, slow respiration, drawing of the head to the left, or a weak heartbeat.  In all of these cases, run, don’t walk, to begin reviving the kid.  Minutes are left in the newborn’s life!

My method:

  • Place the kid in a sink of water (as close to normal goat body temperature as possible).  Keep the newborn’s nose and mouth out of the water.  Maintain the water as close to temperature as possible.  If the kid is very chilled you may find the water cools down quickly.
  • Maple, corn syrup, or molasses.  I keep a bottle of maple or corn syrup in a cabinet next to the sink.  As I hold the kid in the water, I pour a couple of teaspoons of syrup into a small bowl.  I dip my finger into the syrup and rub a small amount into the kid’s cheeks.  Repeat several times.
  • As the kid’s body temperature nears a safe level they will begin to jerk or shiver.  Until the kid begins to do either, their body temperature is probably not climbing.
  • Once the kid is more alert (temperature nearer to normal) I pull them from the warm water, quickly wrap them in a dry towel, and begin drying their coat with a hand held hair dryer.  Caution, light massage is a good thing, but never be overly rough with towel rubbing, etc…, kids can only take so much when they are already exhausted.  When drying the coat, to avoid burning the skin, do not hold the dryer too close, or in one position.  Use sweeping movements.  I try to gently massage with one hand, while holder the dryer with another.
  • Once the kid is dry their body temperature has probably increased greatly.  They should be more alert, but will likely still be showing signs of impending death.  At this point I administer liquids through injection.  Using a 20 gauge needle, 1/2″, I begin injecting Dextrose (use the 5% solution, and/or the Dextrose solution manufactured specifically for injections), SQ (under their skin), in the area between the shoulder blades.  Pinch the skin to form a “tent” and inject just under the skin.  The kid can survive off of the SC liquid for several hours.  I normally inject 3 ML Dextrose, repeat, until a “hump” has raised between the shoulder blades.  Within 15-20 minutes you will notice the hump going down.  This means the body is absorbing the liquid, a very good thing.  If the kid has not revived fully, revive this process as new fluids are needed.  The kid’s body will absorb all of the liquids it needs via the injected liquids.  I also keep Lactated Ringers on hand (a bag of saline IV solution purchased from the vet).  In extreme cases, I will rotate my injections between Dextrose and Lactated Ringers.  Keep the kid wrapped in a dry towel, and make sure they are in a warm location.
  • Again, do not try to force liquids down the kid.  They will develop pneumonia, and they cannot nurse (or swallow properly) until their body functions resume to a normal level.  Once the kid is hydrated and their body temperature is normal they genrally want to nurse.

Revival of a chilled kid is a gradual process.  Do not expect results in 5 minutes.

Once you have had to do the process several times, you begin to notice the heartbeat (just by touch), respiration (by watching the nose and chest), and how the kid looks in the eyes as you go through the revival process.  Goats have what looks like an angry, not bright, look to their eyes when they are not well.

One last note, always keep frozen colostrum on hand.  You never know when you will need it this type of emergency.

If you need help with anything I have said here, please let me know!

Do not forget to talk to the kid as you work with them.  They respond to voice.  Goats give up easily when they do not feel well…your voice may just be enough reassurance to help them cross the bridge to a healthy long life!

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