Are you at your witt’s end trying to save cold baby goat kids after they are born?
It can be a never ending battle no matter when you kid out your goats. A chilled baby goat kid only has hours to live and you have the power to save it.
The good news is that saving baby goat kids from hypothermic conditions is extremely common and possible. It’ll take time but I have confidence that you’ll have really good luck saving your baby goat kids using these methods.
I’m going to tell you about what has worked best for me over the past 9+ years of raising goats in cold, snowy Kansas, USA.
In this post, I will:
- Tell you a few ways how I save cold baby goat kids after they are born.
- How to prevent dealing with hypothermia in baby goats.
- Best practices for reviving a chilled newborn baby goat kid (No Tubing Needed!)
No Kidding! (Pun intended). So, let’s start with why. Why are we goat producers even allowing our goats to kid in this cold weather?
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Why Even Kid in the Winter??
There’s so many reasons why we are crazy enough to have baby goat kids in the winter time. One of those reasons is for competition. County Fairs and having goat kids the right age for competition is a big reason why.
Also, July and August is the beginning of the goats’ natural breeding season. So, bucks will be in rut and does will come into heat naturally starting in those months. If you don’t have your bucks and does separate, they will breed to kid during winter.
Also, a goat’s gestation period is 5 months or 150 days long. Therefore, December – February kidding is the natural kidding time for goats. If you don’t want kids during this time, you’ll want to separate bucks from does until you DO want them together. It’s easy math, friends.
I will tell you, though, that in the past 9+ years of raising goats, I’ve kidded in just about every month possible. And I’ve still had cold kids in late spring, summer and fall. It just highly depends on the temperature and no month is safe. Especially in crazy weather Kansas.
So, it’s best to just know the signs and to be proactive. Here are some easy signs to spot for Hypothermia.
Signs of Hypothermia Symptoms in Goats
First of all, you’ll see a baby goat shivering and hunched around. This is the first sign to watch. If it’s stumbling around and falling over, you’ll want to go ahead and take it’s temperature rectally with a digital thermometer.
Chances are, you’ll find a baby goat kid laying flat on the ground. If it’s still alive, you do have a chance to save it. Take it’s temperature and then get it warmed up.
Like I said…Easy. But only if you have a digital thermometer and can take a goat’s temperature.
And you should have one in your kidding kit. If you don’t have one, get one now here.
A low temperature in goats confirms a hypothermia case. Goat temperature should be 101-103 degrees Fahrenheit. Any temperature below 100 is considered hypothermic.
Another important note is to never ever give milk until its temperature is at least 100 degrees F. A hypothermic tummy can’t digest milk properly, leading to gut issues and other problems down the road. So, simply raise your kid’s temperature and watch the magic happen. Trust me on this.
Let’s focus on raising that temperature. Here are some good ways to do this.
How to Raise a Goat’s Temperature
Start this process immediately. I’m going to give you several ways to go about this. It may seem like a lost cause at first, but these methods really do work and lead to healthy, fun loving goat kids in just a few hours.
Yes, it does take a few hours. You want to do this slowly and check temperature as you see improvement so you don’t get its temperature too hot.
If there’s no plan to return the kid to mom, I opt into a warm bath. You want to get a nice equal and slow warm up. Placing the kid in a warm bath that is around 103 degrees F. is an awesome way to go.
First of all, place the kid in a plastic bag. I like to use 2 gallon Ziplock Freezer bags. I put the body in the bag with the head out and close it up. Then, I emerge the bag into the warm bath. This helps keep the kid dry so it doesn’t get cold again after coming out of the bath.
When the warm bath gets cold, you’ll want to have that second heat source ready. I like using a hair dryer.
Just a simple hand held hair dryer can make an awesome difference. Sometimes two is even better.
You can use a heating pad for this also, Place the goat kid on the heating pad or warm towel. Make sure the kid is propped up to where it’s not laying on it’s side. Then, just blow the hot air from the hair dryer across the body of the kid.
This is a very time consuming process. If you’re super busy with other things like me and need to multitask, I’ve found another way that will help you make a difference.
Heat Vent in my Truck or Hot Box
For busy people (moms) like me who are pulled in different directions, putting kids on the floor board of the pickup truck is a great option.
The heat vent that shoots to the floor blows directly onto the kid and that warm air will dry and heat them up great. It’s an amazing source of heat that has saved me so much time.
I’ve warmed up kids this way while I was finishing chores. While taking my kids to town for activities and school. And while taking a little snooze (sitting in the truck, of course).
It is important to be sure to check the kids every once in a while. Make sure they are still propped up and not laying flat. I’ve found that it takes about an hour to raise a cold kid’s temperature using the vent in my truck.
I also used my truck vent to dry newborn kids that weren’t necessarily cold, but they were born out in the cold and were still wet. This takes less than 30 minutes and I can continue to check and do chores while the kid is drying.
This process is very similar to a calf hot box. Instead of purchasing a hot box, I’ve opted to use my truck because it has an amazing floor heating vent. It really does a great job and I haven’t lost any kids in the process of heating this up this way.
The hardest part now is just keeping them warm after they are warmed up.
What You’ll Notice as the Kid Warms Up
You’ll see an amazing difference during this warm up process. The kid will go from a lifeless thing on the ground with very little hope to a hungry, crying, lively kid with loads of hope.
And you’ll feel your emotions go from hope to assurance. Warming up kids really does work great. And, like I said, I’ve never ever had to tube any goat kids since warming them up to 100 degrees.
At about 95 degrees average, their suckle reflex return. You’ll see their mouths moving as they try to suckle things around them. But still, be sure to check that temperature and get them warm to 100 degrees F.
Rub the kid’s legs and body to improve circulation and get it to stand back up. Give some energy in the form of Nutridrench or karo syrup as it warms up.
You’ll also want to keep the kid warm as possible until it can regulate its temperature on its own. Here are some ways to do that.
Keeping the Kid Warm
I love returning a warmed up kid to a great mom. If I know my does and know they want their kids, I will return them. But, I will watch the kids closely to make sure they aren’t getting cold again. Hypothermia is really hard on their little systems and can easily return if not careful.
Mom should keep them warm and fed enough if you keep them in a draft-free pen with plenty of warm straw for bedding. There are also other external heat sources you can use to keep kids warm.
A very controversial subject, heat lamps are still a viable resource for keeping kids warm. But, there does need to be some careful measures taken when using heat lamps.
Another source of heat is a heating pad. While I have not used one, many other goat producers use and recommend them as an external heat source for baby goat kids.
Prevention of Hypothermia in Baby Goats
Like I mentioned above, hypothermia can occur no matter the season. The underlying trick is getting those baby goat kids dried off fast. Sometimes mom is not fast enough.
I’ve had goat kids born in very low temperatures where I simply made sure they were completely dry. Including nooks and crannies! This is where a truck or hot box is really nice for that even heat all the way around and through the kid. Once they were dry and I could put them in a pen with mom, I did.
And, you know what? They did great!
As long as the kid is dry, warm and out of the wind, it will thrive in any conditions. The trick is making sure the kid does have all of those provisions to stay warm.
And that is up to you and your gut feelings on the situation of the doe and kids.
You Make the Call to Save the Life
It is up to you. I’ve given you the knowledge, products and resources to help you succeed and to save cold baby goat kids.
Now, you get to change the situation. And I know you can.
When dealing with hypothermia in baby goats, the situation can feel a bit hopeless. I know because I’ve been there hundreds of times. However, reviving a chilled newborn baby goat is fairly simple. Yes, it does take time but it’s a simple process. And if the process is done correctly and easily, you’ll be able to turn a hypothermic situation around in less than an hour.
And that, my friend, is magical.