Floppy kid syndrome is a killer with a funny name, baby goats can go from funny little bouncing fur balls to dead in a very short time – and this is just one way it can happen.
I am no expert in goats, and leave most of my goat stuff to my wife, but I almost learned the hard way how fragile bottle goats are.
We received some 4 day old bucklings from a Facebook group we are members of, and we jumped in full tilt. We spend several hundred dollars in housing and fencing, bottles, and milk replacer and starting making plans for a full scale goat army in the back yard.
My wife and I decided that our babies looked thin and decided to fatten them up (seasoned goat farmers are probably sighing and shaking their collective heads at our ignorance) we figured if 2 or 3 daily feedings of 10 ounces was good then 5 feedings of 16-20 would get our new friends fat and sassy in no time.
a few days in my wife noticed one was acting “floppy” – it looked drunk, was unsteady on it’s feet, and had droopy eyelids. – Knowing that baby goats can go from healthy to dead in a day she got worried (cried a little) and yelled at me a lot.
It was pretty cold over the night and I admit my first reaction is that they got cold and needed some energy (they did shiver a little).
At my wife’s urging (and threats of violence) I did more research and learned that baby goats have very sensitive digestive systems and that when a mother goat is overly confined with her babies and cannot keep them from eating too much, or when an ignorant or overzealous new goat farmer bottle feeds too much, the milk does not have enough time to be digested and it sits inside the goat and ferments and rots. This causes bacteria to grow wild and the stomach to get over acidified.
My research showed that while most people think the kid is weak and think the solution is more feed, doing so would surely kill the goat. (It also showed that misdiagnosis and treating a weak kid for floppy goat would also surely kill it).
The treatment is (if you can’t get to a vet) – take the goat off of milk for 24/36 hours, replace the feedings with electrolyte (Gatorade or Pedialyte will work if you can’t get goat specific electrolytes) and give a baking soda/water solution to counteract the acid. A antibiotic/anti toxin is also helpful.
We immediately took those actions, and the next morning took our two bucklings to the vet – Floppy goat was the problem – we were feeding WAY too much. After accepting a deserved scolding and receiving some antibiotic and instructions to stop being stupid with the feeding we went back home and learned from our mistake.
After 2 days of treatments (8 more days of antibiotic treatment left) our goats are full of energy and are hopping and cavorting around and are looking great.
Please learn from our mistakes and only feed baby goats per the instructions on the back of your milk replacer.