How to Tube Feed a Kid

Carol Raczykowski & Maxine Kinne

(Reprinted from Pygmy Goat WORLD magazine with permission)

To tube feed a premature or weak kid, you need the proper equipment. Stomach tubes are flexible, sized to fit over the non-luer syringe tip and have small holes in the opposite end for milk to flow through. They can be purchased from many of the goat supply catalogs. A flexible tube, 1/4" to 3/8" diameter and about 18" to 24" long, will work if the end has been smoothed to avoid injury to the esophagus. A tube that is too large in diameter can split the esophagus and kill your kid. A 35 ml or 60 ml syringe will work best and require fewer refills.


How Much to Tube Feed

A newborn kid requires 10% of its body weight in each 24-hour period for maintenance. Weigh the kid on an accurate scale and do the math to figure out how many ounces it weighs (16 ounces in a pound). Multiply the kid's weight in ounces by 0.10 to get the number of ounces it should receive in a 24-hour period. Divide that number by 6 and feed it that many ounces every four hours. When the kid shows improvement, increase the amount to 15% of its body weight per day, the amount needed for growth.

For example, a 1.5-pound kid weighs 24 ounces, so it requires 2.4 ounces (67 cc) of milk in 24 hours. (One ounce milk = 30 cc.) That's 11 cc every 4 hours.

 The tube must be long enough to reach from the kid's lips to the middle of the abdomen with some extra length to spare. Position the tube along the side of the kid and measure this distance. Mark the tube near the lips with a permanent marker. This helps you gauge the amount of tubing to insert through the mouth and throat.

Gently pass the tube into the back of the throat. The animal will usually swallow it voluntarily while trying to chew on it. Now gently push the tube down the esophagus, while blowing on your end. This helps inflate the esophagus, making the tube pass easier. If the tube stops before you get close to the permanent mark, the tube may be in the lungs and you will have to withdraw it and start over.

Once you reach the stomach opening and the permanent mark is close to the lips, resistance on the tube is reduced and you can attach the syringe full of warm colostrum and slowly administer it. Before removing the tube, pinch it closed to prevent any fluid from leaking into the lungs as you remove it in one smooth motion.


Related Reading
Saving Premature Kids
Special Problems of Weak and Orphan Kids
Special Care for C-section Kids
Neonatal Hypothermia
Bottle Feeding
Raising Kids on Cow Milk


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