January 2015 Issue



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Subscribe FREE now! Monthly issues with new articles and other educational information on meat goat health, nutrition, and management written by Suzanne W. Gasparotto of Onion Creek Ranch and Pat Cotten of Bending Tree Ranch. In all cases, it is your responsibility to obtain veterinary services and advice before using any of the information provided in these articles. Neither Suzanne Gasparotto nor Pat Cotten are veterinarians. None of the contributors to this website will be held responsible for the use of any information contained herein.


Adult or kid, there are times that the only way to save the goat's life is to stomach tube electrolytes and nutritional supplements into it. You must have the necessary supplies on hand and know how to use them when an emergency arises.

ADULT GOATS: See my article on what to buy and how to make an adult goat stomach tube and mouthpiece on the Articles page at www.tennesseemeatgoats.com or in MeatGoatMania's archives. Do it NOW. When an emergency hits, you won't have time to obtain what you need.

If you are scared of stomach tubing because you fear making a mistake, think about this: the goat will likely die if you don't try. We teach stomach tubing at GoatCamp(tm) at my Texas ranch each year. Students will tell you that it isn't difficult. The goat is depending upon you for its survival.

A 100-pound goat needs a gallon of fluids daily to survive. That is 3840 cc's. You cannot orally drench that much fluid into the goat without getting much of it on you and on instead of in the goat -- stressing both of you. You must learn to stomach tube.

A goat can survive for as long as three days on electrolytes, but nutrients are required thereafter. This doesn't mean you should wait until the fourth day to stomach tube protein-based nutrition. It does mean that sometimes a very sick goat can only handle electrolytes early in its illness. You have to learn how to distinguish what the goat needs and when it needs it, or have a qualified mentor to help you. Every situation is different. Remembering that a 100-pound goat needs one gallon of fluids daily, weigh the goat and divide the weight-appropriate amount into three or four tubings over a 24-hour period, then stomach tube fluids into the sick goat until it is able to eat on its own. Stomach tubing sick ADULT goats should be done in pint or less increments, building up to never more than one quart amounts at one feeding, depending upon the age, weight, and condition of the goat. Less fluid per tubing is better than more; do not overload the rumen. Allow time for absorption by the goat's body. I have articles on the Articles page at www.tennesseemeatgoats.com telling you how I medicate and feed sick goats. There is much more to nursing a sick goat back to health than stomach tubing.

You can make a protein-rich liquid by adding eight ounces of milk replacer to one-half gallon of electrolytes and stomach tubing the weight-appropriate amount into the sick goat; see the previous paragraph on how to calculate proper amount of liquids per feeding to stomach tube into the sick goat. The product Ensure or generic equivalent can be used in place of milk replacer. The goal is to get nutrients containing protein into the goat's body. Unused amounts will have to be refrigerated between uses and warmed before tubing.

To stomach the goat, have another person hold the animal steady. Before inserting the mouthpiece and tubing, place the tube alongside the goat's body from opening of mouth to back of last rib to measure how much tubing should be inserted through the mouthpiece to reach the stomach. To insert the stomach tube, lift the goat's head out and slightly upward without twisting or bending its neck. Place the short piece of CPVC into the goat's mouth and over the tongue as far back as possible to prevent the goat from biting and swallowing the soft tubing. Uncurl the tubing and thread it through the CPVC pipe down the side (not the center) of the mouth. If you meet resistance, pull the tubing out and begin again. Before pouring liquid into the tube via the funnel, listen for a crackling/gurgling/popping sound which indicates you are in the stomach (rumen sounds) and not in the lungs. Gently blow into the tube to obtain more sound feedback to further insure that you do not have the tube in the lungs. Hold the funnel end of the tubing as high as possible for good gravity flow. Make sure that the tubing is straight and uncurled, then begin to pour the liquid into the funnel. If the fluid does not flow smoothly through the tube and into the goat, pull the tube out a bit. . . . you've probably got it in too far. When all of the liquid has been poured into the tube, wait several seconds before removing the tubing so that any fluid still in the tube does not enter the lungs as it is withdrawn. Rinse the tubing, funnel, and CPVC pipe thoroughly and hang to dry.

KIDS GOATS: Stomach tubing newborn and young kids is easier done by two people, but if no one can help you, you can use your body and forearms to control the kid as you insert the weak kid syringe and stomach tube with your hands.

Purchase a Weak-Kid Syringe with accompanying stomach tube. Jeffers sells a 60 cc syringe with a long feeding tube; call 1-800-533-3377 or go to www.jefferslivestock.com. Spare tubes should be purchased; you may have to ask for them as they may not be in the catalog. Keep several extra stomach tubes on hand, because kids chew and bite holes in them.


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Whether stomach-tubing colostrum, milk, or electrolytes, the kid should be placed on its side on a soft dry towel on a counter, bench, or table with its head towards the side from which you will be funneling the tube attached to a weak-kid syringe. Counter height is best so you can stand and lean over the kid. Measure the tube from the kid's mouth to the last rib so you know how far to insert the tubing. Holding the head steady and controlling its body with your other forearm, you must carefully thread the tube into the kid's mouth and down the side (rather than down the center) of the throat. If you meet resistance, pull the tubing out and begin again. Use the 'listening/gentle blowing into the syringe' technique before pouring liquid into the 60-cc syringe. Pour no more than one ounce at a time into the syringe and frequently pinch the tube with your fingers to stop the flow so that the kid's stomach is not overwhelmed. Remember that you are dealing with a weak/sick baby goat. The kid's head can be lifted from the counter to allow gravity to assist in the flow. Don't try to tube a standing kid; you cannot adequately control its movement. Kids are very good at spitting up a stomach tube, so be careful to keep the correct amount of tubing inside the goat. As the tube comes out, fluid can enter the lungs. Pinch the tube and hold the pinch securely for several seconds before removing the tube. Keep it pinched until the entire tube is out of the kid's body.

When tube feeding a weak or sick kid, limit the amount tubed at one feeding to no more than two ounces (60 cc's). (As it gets stronger, you can increase the amount tubed, but start small.) Give the kid time to digest the liquids tubed into it. Because colostrum from some dams is very thick, it may be necessary to thin it with goat's milk (or water) for proper flow through the stomach tube. If the tube stops up, have a length of stiff wire the length of the stomach tube to run through to unstop it.

To determine if a kid is full or needs additional nutrition, place the kid with all four feet on the ground supporting itself and feel the abdomen in front of the back legs with both hands. The stomach should feel firm but not tight. If the kid's belly feels 'squishy,' then it needs more colostrum, milk, or whatever is being tubed or bottle-fed into him. If you perform this procedure by supporting the kid off the ground, it will always feel more full than it really is.

Do not tube milk or colostrum into a kid who cannot hold its head up or whose body temperature is less than 100*F. Use sugar and water mixtures (Karo syrup, molasses, or equal parts of 50% dextrose and water) to give it energy until it can sit upright and hold its head up. See my article entitled "Health Problems of Newborn and Weak Kids" on my website's Articles page for how to treat sick and weak kids.

You must learn how to use stomach tubes on both adult and kid goats. Like so many things in life, it is easier to do than you think. One day a goat's life is going to depend upon your ability to use a stomach tube properly. Get prepared NOW.

Suzanne W. Gasparotto, Onion Creek Ranch, Texas 1-12-15



Contact Suzanne Gasparotto at
325-344-5775 for prices and availability.


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Tennessee Meat Goats™ and TexMasters™ are the cream of the meat goat industry. Contact us for availability, ages and pricing by calling 325-344-5775 or emailing onioncreek@tennesseemeatgoats.com



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