Neonatal Hypothermia
Maxine Kinne

Newborns can become hypothermic (subnormal body temperature) very soon after birth, even in the summer when you don't expect it. Cold kids get depressed and are unwilling to nurse or even get up and move around. Test the inside of the kid's mouth with a finger. If it feels cool, the kid must be warmed artificially until its rectal temperature reaches 102o F. Time is of the essence! 

A difficult birth, cold weather, a wet coat, inability to nurse due to plugged teats, and congenital defects are all probable causes. With the possible exception of certain birth defects, the kid can be warmed to get it off to to a good start.

Sticking the kid inside your coat will not warm it enough - your body temperature is to low. Lay the kid on a heating pad, turn it to medium heat, and cover all but the kid's head with several layers of bath towels. Rising heat will warm the kid throughout. Periodically monitor the kid's temperature and stick your hand between the kid and the heating pad from time to time to see that the heating pad isn't too hot. Make sure the mother doesn't chew on the electric cord - it could electrocute her. Heating this way usually takes about an hour.

Another way to warm a kid is to use a hair dryer. You can make a warming box by cutting a neck hole for the kid's head to stick out of the box. Cut the hole in the top edge of the box - you'll turn it upside-down over the kid so its body is inside the box and the head is outside. In the bottom of the tox, cut a hole large enough to accept the nozzle of the hair dryer. It isn't necessary for the warm air to blow directly on the kid, as the upside-down box will hold in the warmth.

An optional method is to surround the kid with milk bottles filled with warm water. These require more constant attention and periodic refreshing when they cool off.

To try to avoid chilled kids, dry the kid as completely as possible as soon after birth as possible. A wet coat and cool air combine to reduce body heat very quickly.  Unplug both of the does' teats as the kids are born to make sure they have ready access to colostrum.

Heat lamps are not recommended for warming kids. By the time you get the heat lamp close enough to raise body temperature, you risk burning the kid, its mother, and setting the barn on fire.


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