What Floppy Kid Syndrome Is — and What It Is Not

floppy kid

Because of the simple name of this syndrome, a lot of people assume they have a case of floppy kid whenever they have a kid that’s, well, floppy. However, it is a well-defined condition that only occurs between three days and two weeks of age. The textbooks say it has been seen up to a month of age in rare cases, but most vets will draw the line around ten days to two weeks.

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What is floppy kid syndrome (FKS)?

A kid who had appeared healthy since birth suddenly can’t stand or even nurse or wrap its tongue around a nipple. The kid does not have diarrhea and is not dehydrated. If not treated, it may fall into a coma and die within 24 to 36 hours. In a small number of cases, a kid has recovered completely without treatment, but that is obviously not recommended.

Floppy kid is a metabolic disorder caused by a base deficit, according to Goat Medicine. It may be caused by consuming too much milk. It can be easily corrected by giving a kid about one-half to one teaspoon of baking soda dissolved in a small amount of water. Since the kid is not dehydrated (because it consumed too much milk), you only need to mix enough water into the baking soda to get it into the kid. Even though the kid can’t suck, it can usually swallow, so you should be able to get the baking soda into the kid with a bottle or eye dropper and a lot of patience. If not, a vet can administer sodium bicarbonate intravenously. A single dose of baking soda is usually all that is needed, although since overfeeding is the suspected cause, some people also advocate limiting milk consumption for the next 24 hours.

If you don’t see improvement fairly quickly, it’s probably something else.

What floppy kid is not

A weak newborn does not have FKS. Giving it baking soda will do nothing for it. Newborn weakness is usually due to hypothermia or a deficiency in selenium or vitamin E.

A weak kid that’s one or two days old may be starving, especially if it is one of four or more kids being dam-raised. Some kids simply do not have the gumption to fight their siblings for two teats. It is an unfortunate myth that a doe can feed whatever number of kids she births. (See How many kids can a doe feed? for more on this topic.)

A down kid that’s two or three months old does not have FKS. At that age, weakness is often caused by worms or coccidia. While coccidia and other protozoan infections may cause diarrhea, FKS does not. A down kid may also be dehydrated if it has become too weak to be able to walk to the water trough.

This post is for educational purposes only and is not meant to replace the services of a professional veterinarian.

floppy kid

26 thoughts on “What Floppy Kid Syndrome Is — and What It Is Not”

  1. Thank you. Very good information. I’ve had kids with this condition before. It can be very disheartening when you don’t know what to do.

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  2. Thanks I had two die this year I think that was the problem. They were both about week and a half old. Wish I had seen this about a week ago.

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  3. Our baby goat was born yesterday, June 26, and still cannot stand. We’ve been feeding her hoping she’d gather some strength which is slightly more positive. Is there anything else we can do to help her?

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    • How much does she weigh, and what breed is she? Sounds like she might be premature. How much colostrum has she had?

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  4. Baby goat was born March 9, she was very small, cold and weak so I brought her inside to warm her, milked momma to feed her. Took a couple days to get her to eat but then she ate really well and seemed to be doing well. Then all of a sudden she could hardly stand up then the next day she couldn’t stand at all. What could have happened and what could I have done to save her. My heart is aching over thinking I didn’t do something I should or could have. She passed March 20

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    • She may have been deficient in selenium or vitamin E if she was very weak, but the fact that she got better for a couple of days makes me think that was not it. If she was born very small and died within the first week, there might have been something wrong with her from the beginning. There are so many dots that have to be connected correctly to make a healthy goat that it’s actually kind of surprising that we don’t see more of them born imperfectly. We had one born last year that ever gained more than a few ounces in the first week and then just faded away by 5-6 days of age. Here is more info on selenium and vitamin E:
      https://thriftyhomesteader.com/goats-selenium/
      https://thriftyhomesteader.com/vitamin-e-goats/

      Reply
  5. Thank you for the info. I believe I have a buckling about 8 weeks old going through this. He seems to gain energy after I give him baking soda and electrolytes. I have read some say antibiotics are also needed and others say they will not have an affect one way or another, so I guess that is my question now. I have given him probios as well as a Vitamin B thiamin shot. His stomach seems to be full and gassy as well. Any extra tips would be appreciated.

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    • This is not floppy kid syndrome. As the article says, it does not occur in kids more than 2 weeks of age. If the kid simply has no energy, it is probably a bad case of parasites — worms and/or coccidia. If he has a big belly, that is a symptom of of parasites because he is starving, so he is eating as much as he can. What breed is he and how much does he weigh? Are his eyelids pale? Is he pooping pebbles, or are they like dog poop or diarrhea?

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      • Thanks for your response. He is part fainting and part Nigerian. He is pooping normal pebbles. He is no longer gassy but has a hard time standing or moving too fast. He eats and drinks without any problems. He is urinating plenty. He has been in the house for a few days acts better then after he eats he acts weak again so I have been giving him baking soda about 3 or 4 times a day, which seems to help. I have purchased Viat- Jec B which I have also given, along with Probios . I have purchased Tera Vet 200 as well, would this be beneficial and Can I administer Ponazuril or Albon?

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        • He seriously will just flop down though because he can’t stand long in some instances and due to the baking soda having a positive affect I assumed FKS may be the issue. He was progressing and getting better but Today he seems to have relapsed some so any Suggestions would be great! Thanks!

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          • It really sounds like he needs to be treated for worms — or please take him to the vet to get a fecal and a proper diagnosis. According to the veterinary text books, kids can NOT get FKS after 2 weeks of age. And what you are describing is NOT FKS. A kid with FKS is completely limp and can NOT stand at all. A kid with a heavy load of parasites can be very weak. The things you are giving him will not help if he has worms. He needs a dewormer. Parasites are the most common cause of death in goats — especially kids. If you don’t want to treat him for worms, then you need to take him to the vet. They usually have diarrhea with coccidia, but not always, so that is a possibility too.

  6. Hi
    I have a 16 day old baby goat
    His mother rejected him at birth because he was the runt and she had triplets. He was very weak the first couple days but now is drinking 24 ounces a day and is playing and jumping. But he just started after waking up in the morning having trouble standing and just flopping down for the first 20 seconds. He then stands and wakes up and is good for the day. Does it sound that he could have a vitamin E deficiency?
    It doesn’t happen all the time. It’s happened about 6 times in a week
    Please help

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    • A vitamin E deficiency would have been present at birth, and it would have gotten worse if left untreated. If I understand correctly, he is acting “off” for 20 seconds a day at most. If that’s correct, then it doesn’t sound like anything is wrong with him. If he had any type of deficiency like vitamin E or selenium, he would be acting off all day long. He would not be playing and jumping. Every now and then you have a kid that has some weird little quirky thing that just means he’s an individual.

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    • I’m so sorry! If the kid died at 2 days, that was most likely from starvation. And it sounds like another one died even earlier. If kids get no milk at all, they will die the first day. If they get enough to keep them from dehydration and low blood sugar, they can live a day or two, but after that, if they are not getting enough milk, they have burned up the brown fat that they were born with, and they will die. This is why I recommend weighing all kids when they are born and then weighing them daily for the first two weeks. If a doe has more than 2 kids, it’s possible that as their demand doubles in the first two weeks, she might not be able to keep up, and they will fall behind. When I was in my second year of kidding, we had a doe almost die of starvation when she was two weeks old because she was one of four kids, and I didn’t know that a doe might not be able to feed four. I want to see my Nigerian dwarf kids gain 4 ounces per day for the first two months. Obviously larger breeds should gain more.

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  7. Had a light weight at birth miniature silky fainting goat. He was extremely slow at drinking from a bottle but was getting enough. It has been extremely hot and humid here he started refusing bottle two days ago I thought it might be heat related brought him in the house and he took about 6oz of milk the first day refused it all day yesterday. I gave him some vitamin B and thiamine along with baking soda. This morning he seemed more active took about 2 ox of milk then refused anymore. Five minutes later he began bleating and throwing up about 10 minutes later he passed away. His weight was just over four pounds. Any idea at all of what may have caused this. His flamantia score was a one bright red eyelids. So I do not believe it was parasites. He’s been on a concrete floor that is swept daily and bleached weekly.

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  8. I need help . I have a 2 week old goat she was rejected at birth five been feeding her and taking her with me everywhere except this weekend I set her up a bottle station when I was out and had someone come make sure she was eating every 4-5 hours . I’m only bottle feeding her this stuff called kid milk. Her legs started going out last night and this morning her back won’t work at all! What should I do? Baking soda?

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    • It’s odd that it’s only her back end. Is there any way another goat or animal could have hurt her? Paralyzed back end could also be a spinal cord injury. Try pinching her back legs to see if she responds. If she has good muscle tone in the front half of her body, it’s probably not floppy kid.

      If you think she has floppy kid, then the post explains the treatment.

      Reply
  9. I have a three days old baby goat. She was good in condition at the time , she n
    Born . She was way to hungry at that time we fed her mother’s milk, thereafter we fed with milk bottle. On second day she stop eating and was lazy even not interested to have milk. We met vet later on she was diagonal with fever . On third day she was sucking milk by her own but now it’s 4th day , we have noticed she is breathing heavily and lazy again to get fed. Even bottle feeding is also pretty hard for us . What I can do now?

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    • If she had a fever, that means she had an infection. Hopefully she was treated with antibiotics. The vet should have explained what was going on. A kid with floppy kid syndrome does not have a fever.

      If she no longer has a fever, it could be floppy kid now. How much are you feeding her? What are you feeding her? Here is more information about bottle feeding so you can be sure that you are feeding the correct amount and that the timing is correct — https://thriftyhomesteader.com/bottle-feeding-goat-kids/

      If it is floppy kid, you should follow the instructions in this article or contact your vet again.

      Reply

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