Goat Birth Chill
Written by Administrator-GL   
Monday, 28 May 2007

GOATS- Hypothermia (Birth Chill) by goatlady

Goat Birth Chill


Birth Chill is one of the main killers of baby goats.
In many cases they CAN be saved!
Birth chill is when a newborn infant (Usually) has been exposed to the wind, cold, has not been cleaned and dried by mama or has not eaten quick enough after birth. It can happen in the summer as well as winter so do not be fooled that it can't happen because it is June or July!
*A baby with a cold mouth is an Emergency!

Household Supplies

  • 1. Clean dry towels for wrapping baby in & drying baby
  • 2. Ziplock bag partially filled with uncooked rice or beans
  • for heating in the microwave for heating source
  • 3. Blow dryer or space heater with blower
  • for making warm air for baby to breathe
  • 4. Digital Thermometer for recording baby's temperature
  • 5. Bottle any glass screw top bottle that will fit Pritchard teat
  • (Clearly Canadian bottles work well)
  • 6. Strong coffee - caffiene in "Kid Saver" formula
  • 7. Molasses-has iron, sodium, calcium and potassium to add to "Kid Saver" formula
  • 8. Karo Syrup -easy form of sugar to digest to add to "Kid Saver" formula








***You can get by with just these things but it makes life a little easier if you also have these vet supplies on hand, most can be found at well stocked feed stores.

Vet Supplies:

1. Pritchard teat - a special nipple for babies who are weak or very small 2. Weak Kid Syringe -for tubing babies in extreme cases 3. CMPK solution -supplement to add to "Kid Saver" formula
4. 50% Dextrose solution -easily digestible sugar for immediate release into the system to add to "Kid Saver" formula 
I don't usually measure everything, but to give you a starting point:

I use what ever I have at immediate hand.. if I have all of these things I use them all.. if not I use what I have, there is no set rule.. I will say the coffee is important though.
Keeping a jar of instant coffee on hand is a good idea for non-coffee drinkers. Caffienated coke or pop will work too, so will tea.

I start by giving baby a jumpstart of 1/2 hot coffee and 1/2 either dextrose 50% solution or molasses in a syringe..never try to give baby more than 5ccs of anything at one "feeding"..and at that, only dribbling this drip by drip in their mouth (if they are able to swallow) and allowing time to swallow in between times... spreading feedings about 5 minutes apart.

"Kid Saver Formula"

  • *1 Cup strong coffee 
  • *1 TBSP molasses
  • *1 TBSP karo syrup
  • *20ccs dextrose 50% solution
  • *20ccs CMPK solution





(This can be sized down if you like..I was just trying to give an example of amounts to use.)

For severly weakend kids do not attempt to give them colostrum or milk as they cannot yet digest it and it wil sit in the stomach and get toxic.

Instead- Give electrolytes and what ever sugar source you have as well as the coffee until they are able to suck.

You find a cold wet baby born minutes ago comatose or near to death.

  • 1. Get baby in the house,  NOW! Open up your coat or shirt and bring baby in holding it against your bare skin if possible-you can wash clothes and shower later.
  • 2. Keep baby against body while you prepare sinkful of warm water and get a supply of clean dry towels.
  • 3. Fill sink with fairly warm water..warmer than tepid but not hot.
  • 4. Immerse baby up to neck in water and making sure you hold baby's face out of water.. stimulate baby's chest area to help circulation. Be brisk during all of this but not rough. This may take a half hour or better.
  • 5. When baby starts to come around or cries good healthy cries OR a finger placed in it's mouth determines mouth is starting to warm up, take baby out of sink and directly into towel, rub briskly to dry placing baby in front of heater or blow dryer.
  • 6. In the meantime.. either leave baby in front of blow dryer or heater on dry towel (not the wet one used to dry it) - go get a clean syringe, make a mixture of coffee, molasses, karo syrup and if you have it either dextrose 50%solution or CMPK. Make sure this solution is warmer than tepid.
  • 7. Make a "tent" with towels or sheet over you and baby with blow dryer or heater in with you to warm the air baby is breathing. Do Not blow hot air directly on baby... the idea is to warm up the air it is breathing.
  • 8. Dribble solution, using syringe with no needle, into baby's mouth a drop at a time- too much will choke baby, do NOT tilt head back. Allow baby to swallow in between dribbles. You can help by stroking throat after each dribble.
  • NOTE: A chilled baby CANNOT suckle, so trying to give baby a bottle right now is useless.
  • 9. Alternate feeding baby with holding it and stimulating the baby to "wake up and go". Bounce baby, rub baby's chest and legs, talk to baby, hold baby up to try to stand .. what ever it takes to get baby to come around.
  • 10. As soon as baby's temperature comes up to 100 degrees you can try a bottle with colostrum and coffee and molasses in it OR go get mama goat bringing her in the house and see if baby will get up to nurse. Do Not try to take baby out in weather just yet.

Ok.. now for the more detailed article..I just wanted to give you a fast reference guide (above) for those of you needing to act quick and have no time to read alot of information:

Here's how I have saved some babies who would not have otherwise made it from Birth chill-

Take the baby in the house and place it in a sinkful of warm water up to the neck.

Make sure you don't leave baby unattended.

At the first signs of life and consciousness take baby from bath and wrap in a warm dry towel.

You need to dry baby completely in front of a heater while briskly towel drying baby.

While you are doing this you need to get some nutrition into baby as the blood sugar is very low.

I use a mixture of strong warm coffee and molasses given orally with a small syringe making sure you do NOT allow any of the liquid to go into the lungs. This is what I start with before I try any electrolytes or colostrum. To jump start the baby.

Hold baby's head straight not tilted up while administering liquids like this.
Baby will only take a small amount- a few cc's at best.

The whole while you are in front of the heater or blow dryer and rubbing baby to simulate mama's licking and stimulation she would be doing.
This may take hours so get comfortable.. I have saved babies who were unconscious at the start.

This is a Perfect example of a kid who was literally dead when I got to him..

Birth Chill Baby grown up

Trine and I worked on him for over 3 hours..and isn't he gorgeous now?

What a waste had we given up on him or thought nothing could help him.

Have I ever lost a baby due to birth chill?..Sure I have, you cannot save them all. You do your best to save the ones who can be saved and give it your all to each one. If it isn't meant to be.. it just isn't meant to be.. You did your best, it's all you can do.

 This is a copyrighted article 2003 goatlady

numly 19881-061015-115944-90

© 2006 goatlady All Rights Reserved.

Continued: This is a recent post made to my AngelGoats List - the information is basically the same but written a bit different if this may help you to understand the whats and whys of tubing a chilled baby goat..

First I want everyone to drill this into your heads.. A Baby Goat Cannot Wait.. repeat this 50 times or until you have it memorized.. :-)
Babies who are born especially in cold weather need to eat within 30 minutes of birth.. if they have not yet found the teat- help them.. make sure yu clear the teats of the waxy plugs so the flow is easy.. and then make sure baby gets to it and is sucking.. THEN before you walk away form the baby and new mom.. make sure you see the baby FIND the teat successfully all by itself and eat successfully all by itself.. at least once if not 2 or 3 times.. so you can BE SURE things are OK..
Now for weak babies who perhaps were born and mom didn't get them up and feed them right away and you came in on things after the fact.. or for moms who refuse to feed and you simply cannot get baby to the teat to eat.. or for what ever reason the baby is now chilled (Take their rectal temps as well as feeling the inside of the mouth) the baby is cold and weak.. it's time for action..
Get the baby IN the house.. grab a second pair of hands if possible.. get the baby in front of a space heater with a fan, under a chair with a blanket draped over it and a blow dryer running.. or if nothing else.. open an oven door put the over on 300 and lay the baby on a padding of towels facing the oven (CHECK OFTEN) so the baby is breathing the warm air.. the idea here is to get warm air in the lungs.. which in turn will heat the blood as it passes through the lungs..
NOW while you are doing this and hopefully someone else is helping watch and tend the baby.. get your tubing equipment ready.. a 12,20, or 30cc syringe with a long tip on it (not the luer lock but the luer slip) , catheter for tubing, 2 containers like 2 cup measuring cups.. one with warm water in it, one with what ever you are going to tube into the baby.. I use coffee, molasses or karo syrup, dextrose if I have it, water, and electrolytes. . mix it up.. I don't really measure.. just mix some up.. the coffee is about 1/3 of the entire mix.. a couple TBSP of molasses or karo , the same with the dextrose and some water..warm, not hot but not tepid..
you will have to tube plain water first.. JUST in case you are accidentally in the lungs you would be far better off accidentally getting some water in the lungs than a sticky mess of molasses..

so I always clear the tube with warm water first - I stick the bigger syringe tip into the tube end without the plunger in it so it acts like a funnel of sorts.. I use the 12cc syringe to draw up the water/or feeding mix.. I then shoot the water/feeding mix into the open end of the plungerless syringe attached to the catheter that is already in the goat's tummy, making sure to hold the end of it higher than the baby.. the baby should NOT cough.. the baby will swallow as you give it the warm water/mix.
Using the 12 cc syringe you can measure how much (how many) syringefuls you are administering. Do NOT over do it.. a couple for a small baby is enough.. end by clearing the tube with more warm water the quickly and with an even movement- remove the tube from the baby and immediately turn baby so the face is facing down for a moment in case there is any in the mouth that needs to drip out rather than go down the throat and choke baby.. wipe baby's face and continue to keep it where ever you have it breathing the warm air.. stimulate the sides of the baby.. with your fingers.. and talk to it.. rub it's little butt with a warm wet cottonball to stimulate it to poop.. wait about 30 minutes and if needed redo the feeding again.. stay with baby tending to it the entire time.. rubbing baby, moving baby.. trying to get it to stand.. talking in an upbeat voice.. keep it stimulated.. this may take a couple hours.. all the while breathing the warm air.. AND taking it's rectal temp.. you are NOT out of the woods until the baby's temp reaches at LEAST 101 degrees.. every once in a while put your finger in it's mouth to see if it has any sucking reflex.. when it does.. have some of moms colostrum ready.. warm (and ladies this must be warmed on top of a double boiler or it will curdle like eggs) and not in the microwave.. sit in a bowl of hot water until you are ready to use it.. OR if you have mom in the house try to get baby to the teat to suckle.. which of course is the ideal way to do it.. but do NOT take baby out in the cold to try this.. you will Undo everything you just worked so hard to do.. (you can clean your house later)

Remember.. a cold baby CANNOT SUCK.. And cold baby CANNOT digest milk or colostrum.. you have to get the baby's temp up first..
The Baby's internal temp is warming the blood and getting sugar into the blood.. you need to warm from the inside out not JUST the outside in..
As long as the baby gets colostrum in the first 12 hours of life you are fine.. and I have had successful babies who grow into fine health adult goats that never had colostrum.. so while it is ideal.. it is NOT a death sentence of they do not get it.. the baby can only assimilate the antibody properties of colostrum for the first 24 hours of it's life.. with the second 12 hours not as efficiently as the first 12 hours.. the colostrum is the same but the ability of the baby to utilize the antibody properties of it is lost after 24 hours.. it then becomes rich milk to their body after that which is fine.. just something to remember..
As far as a baby will not accept a teat or bottle if it has been tubed is a fallacy.. this is simply not true..
I have had BOTH bottle babies who accepted a bottle after having to be tubed.. and I have had dam raised babies who accept the teat after being tubed.. And while we're on the subject.. I have had babies who go between bottle and mama very successfully. . so the saying that once a bottle baby is given a bottle it will never go back to the teat is also wrong.. it can and does happen..
Now one more thing ..
If for what ever reason you have no molasses or karo or pancake or any other kind of sugar in the house and you have a soda.. (NOT DIET) heck warm It up (make sure no more carbonation is in it.. and it's warm) and tube this to the baby.. no it isn't the best scenerio.. but it WILL work in a pinch..
A Baby CANNOT WAIT! A few minutes to us may be enough time to lose a baby who is in need to help.. no time to see what happens.. Act now and you wont be sorry later..

Last Updated ( Sunday, 10 February 2008 )