Tube Feeding A Kid
Written by Administrator-GL   
Monday, 28 May 2007

How to Tube Feed a Baby Goat by goatlady

Tube Feeding A Kid

There will more than likely come the time you will need to tube feed a baby kid and while it is not the first thing I do is important you know how to do it and when to do it..

Never try tube a kid who is unconscious!
Sometimes a baby is just too weak to nurse, whether it is from hypothermia, weak kid syndrome, or severe dehydration.

In any case, it is vital to the baby to get the correct fluids into it's stomach for it to survive. Keep in mind, a baby can go downhill extremely fast, so don't be tempted to "wait and see" if you have a baby who is sick enough to be unable to suckle.

A sub-normal temperature of under 98 degrees is dangerously low! Act Now!
Babies with low blood sugar will not , many times, cannot suckle.. and until their blood sugar is raised.. They will need your help to get the proper nutrition into the system.

Also keep in mind that when a baby's system is this low.. the blood flow is not in the stomach, it goes to the vital organs trying to keep the baby alive.. giving milk initially will not help until the baby is warmed up, so best to start your tube feedings with electrolytes, molasses and coffee, 50% dextrose or what ever your choice is for quick energy.

tubing catheter for baby goats
You can buy them here at ValleyVet
Start out by getting the needed equipment together-

You will need:

1. Weak Kid Syringe and Tubing
2. Warmed liquids you will be feeding kid
3. An extra syringe for measuring amount of liquid dispensed (a small baby kid can handle only about 20 to 30ccs of liquid at one time)
4. Warm water to wash out tubing before removing it from stomach
5. Thermal container to keep fluids warm
An extra set of hands is nice too.. [/list:u]

Measure the distance from the nose of the baby to the last rib and mark the tubing with a Sharpie pen, so you will know approximately where the tube has to be when you are in the kid's stomach.


Note:(This will be right-handed instructions, if you are left handed reverse the positions of you and the baby)

1. Putting the tube in warm water for a few minutes will help to soften the tube so it will bend easier going down and be more comfortable for the baby. ( I always place the tubing in boiling water before hand to help sterilize it as well).

(The baby tube has eyelets in the end on opposite sides of the tube and the tip is rounded at the end, making it less likely to tear the esophogus.)

2. Wet the end of the cleaned and sterile tube with WATER not milk or oil.. before inserting it.. the reason I say this is because IF by chance you do get a small amount of something in the lungs.. water is your safer choice than milk or oil (the same reason for rinsing the tube with water before removing it from the stomach).

3. With the baby across your lap, (I lay them their right side to my body, because I am right-handed) Use your left arm (inside the elbow area) to snug the baby up to you and help hold it still.

4. With your left hand, thumb and middle finger, hold the kid's head firmly just under the base of the ears and tilt the head back slightly.

5. Now, with your right hand, guide the tubing WITHOUT the syringe attached yet, down the left side of the kid's throat slowly and allowing the kid to swallow (which is a natural reflex and will help you to get the tube in the stomach)-feel as you go ..

Let go of the tubing for a minute-or have someone hold it for a minute for you while you feel the throat- and with your thumb and forefinger grip the throat to feel the tube in the throat, you should feel the tube in the esophogus... not the bronchial tube..(again, the esophogus is soft and the bronchial tube is a ribbed hard cord, the baby wil make swallowing movements as the tube goes down if you are in the correct place).

6. If the tube is in the right place, continue to slide it down the throat watching carefully the distance you are going by your mark on the tube and slow enough for the kid to swallow.. no need to rush this- take your time.. it can be nerve wracking I know.

7. If the tube stops short or the baby starts to choke.. STOP and retract the tube.. you are in the lungs!

8. Once you are sure you have the tube in the correct place.. double check by either placing a mirror in front of the tube end, or by placing the tube end in a glass of water.. if the end of the tube makes fog on the mirror or bubbles in the water .. you are in the lungs. Back the tube out some and re-insert.

*** Now I have read lately more often than I would even like to see.. web sites telling you to blow into the tube to check for correct placement..


I don't care who says to or what reason they give.. You are asking for big trouble if you do.. a trained veterinarian may be able do this successfully..

Personally, I wouldn't even allow a vet to do it to one of my babies..

It is just to easy to cause irreversible damage to the lungs this way.. and there is NO need..those teeny tiny lungs are just too fragile..and there are other ways to check your placement just as successfully..

NOTE: If you have the entire length of tube in to where it has been marked.. you can be pretty sure it is in the stomach - if it went all that way and it went into the lungs you would have had to push it fairly hard for one thing and for the other.. it would have pierced the lung and you would have a seriously coughing, choking, hacking baby on your hands.. and more than likely blood coming up through the tube..

So while you are using a small amount of pressure inserting the tube, IF you meet resistance.. STOP and back up some and re-insert..

Properly done you should not have much pressure resistance!

9. Now that the tube is in the stomach, attach the syringe minus the plunger and Please take the plunger out of the syringe Before you attach it.. the suction from doing this would not feel very good in the baby's stomach and could do damage to frail tissues as well.

10. Re-warm the liquid you are giving the baby (if it has not been kept in a thermal container) because by now I'm sure it is probably cold.. have someone help you.. *S*

11. Before you put electrolytes, meds or what ever else you are tubing the kid with.. go ahead and administer 2-2ccs of fairly warm water first..

** One thing this will do is to check one last time that you are indeed in the stomach and not the lungs.. if you are in the lungs.. the baby will cough and the water is the least offensive thing you could accidently put in the lungs.. the baby has a better chance to survive a small amount of water in the lungs than he does medications , electroytes, molasses or anything else..

You should also be able to feel the warmth in the stomach in a baby. It also helps the rumino-reticular groove (sometimes called the oesophogeal groove) to close .. allowing the fluids to go directly into the abomasum, by-passing the rumen.

Keep in mind a newborn baby does NOT use the rumen yet.. it still functions digestively as a monogastric, (single stomach animal).

12. OK, now you are ready to tube the baby.. with one syringe, pull up a couple of ccs at a time with one syringe (minus the needle) and then empty it into the syringe you have on the end of the tube.. allow the tube syringe to use gravity instead of plungering it into the baby's stomach. It is easy to draw liquid up into the syringe with one hand and while holding the end of the tube and syringe with my left hand-arm across holding baby on my lap still, I can fill the end with the syringe with my right hand.

13. Administer only a few ccs to the baby at a time- remember a tiny baby has a tiny stomach, it can only hold so much at a time.. (one ounce of fluid is 30ccs). I wouldn't give a newborn pygmy more than an ounce at a feeding.. you can double this amount for a dairy baby.. gauge yourself by feeling the kid's stomach- when it feels full.... stop.

(You will have to feed the baby several times a day like this, but more often smaller feedings are much better than trying to overfeed fewer times..)

14.When you have administered the fluids and are ready to be done, rinse the tube one last time with warm water, 2 to 3ccs should be fine, to clear the tube.

15.Remove the syringe from the feeding tube, put your finger over the tip of the tube and remove the tube from the baby's stomach slowly and gently. Placing your finger over the end will stop any leakage from dripping into the bronchial tube while retracting the feeding tube..

16. Make sure you lay the baby down (if it cannot stand) upright on it's stomach rather than allowing it to lay over on it's side, because if the baby does spit up some fluids.. you surely don't want him inhaling it now after all the trouble you went through to keep it out of his lungs.
If nothing else - prop the baby on a pillow so the head is higher than the stomach.

Well, there you have it, tubing a kid. Clear as Mud I know.. I tried to get every detail so you could see in your mind's eye what I do, hopefully making it easier for you to do.

numly 94325-061015-860390-65

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Last Updated ( Friday, 30 December 2011 )