Goat Medications and First-Aid Must-Haves
What First-Aid Items are Needed On the Goat Farm?
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Goats are cute mischievous and yes, accident-prone. A goat medicine cabinet is essential to successful goat farming. If you don’t believe that statement just ask any goat owner! Goats hurt themselves in so many ways. The medicine cabinet should include goat medications for treating external wounds like cuts, bruises, and sores. Goats may need internal first aid, too. Parasites are one cause for taking internal first aid action.
There are many products that can stock a goat medicine cabinet. One thing you may first notice after acquiring goats is that livestock veterinarians are not as widely available as pet veterinarians. In some areas your ailing goat cannot be seen the same day that an illness or accident occurs. Your vet might give you advice over the phone, in order to assist the animal, in the meantime.
Learning as much as you can about wound treatment and common ailments can save the life of your goat when veterinary help is not immediately available. Keeping a well-stocked goat medicine cabinet can literally be a lifesaver.
Everyday Ailments, Bumps, and Bruises
Goats sometimes eat indiscriminately, ending up with a bellyache called bloat. Bloat can be remedied if discovered early. Keeping simple baking soda on hand saves time and might save the goat’s life. Read information about goats and bloat so you recognize the condition if it occurs in your herd.
Baking soda offered free-choice allows the goat to self-regulate the pH of the rumen. Keeping vegetable oil on hand for an emergency goat bloating is a good idea. The oil breaks the surface tension of bloat-causing bubbles trapped in the rumen.
I asked a fellow goat owner what she keeps in the goat medicine cabinet. She replied, “Over the years, I learned to always have these four items on hand for my goats. The first is B vitamins, B1 and B12. The next, activated charcoal, large amounts of baking soda, and a drenching tool. Sadly, when a goat becomes ill, their health declines rapidly. These items can help a sick goat hold on until a veterinarian arrives.” — Ann Accetta-Scott, A Farm Girl in the Making . In addition to those recommendations, don’t forget a small stash of syringes and small-gauge needles.
Parasite control is a routine health practice for your herd. Keeping appropriate dewormers on hand for unforeseen parasite issues is a good practice, too. If you have an emergency parasite problem, review your regular routine with your livestock veterinarian. They often know if certain parasites are causing increased problems in your area.
Hoof care is another routine procedure. Keep a good pair of hoof trimmers and a bottle of thrush treatment. Wet weather can play havoc with our hooved livestock’s feet.
Round Out the Goat Medicine Cabinet with These Purchased Items
We add the following items into our goat first aid kit. These are items we purchase from a livestock supply retailer and some can be purchased at your local drug store. You do not need to purchase a specific livestock thermometer, although the attached string at the end of the livestock thermometer is a good idea. Thermometers have a way of getting sucked into the rectum and large intestine if you aren’t holding on to them.
A digital rectal thermometer should be in any farm first aid box. The first thing a veterinarian will ask you over the phone is if the goat has a fever. A normal goat temperature reading should be between 102-103 degrees Fahrenheit. Being ready with this information saves time and allows the vet to suggest treatments based on symptoms. A good pair of scissors and tweezers are good additions to any medical kit.
In Case of Eye Injury
Terramycin Ophthalmic Ointment can be purchased over-the-counter from livestock supply retailers. This, along with Vetericyn Ophthalmic ointment, are the first line of defense for an eye infection or injury in our goat herd.
Along with the goat’s mischievous, energetic spirit comes unwanted cuts, scrapes, and injuries. Vetericyn or Banixx, anti-fungal/anti-bacterial sprays are a good first line of defense when a wound occurs. An inexpensive bottle of contact lens saline solution works well for flushing out the wound. Hydrogen peroxide and betadine solution are also kept for wound care. A bottle of rubbing alcohol is useful for cleaning up the scissors, tweezers, or other non-disposable instruments.
Bandages are essential items along with an antibiotic cream or spray. Stock a good supply of gauze pads (4×4 and 2×2 size). Include a box of human Band-Aids. Vet wrap/cohesive bandage keeps the gauze or cotton bandages in place. This is helpful with goats who try to eat the bandage soon after you apply it. If weather is wet, a strip of electrical tape resists moisture best. I will add it to the final vet wrap layer to hold the bandages in place. Another kitchen cabinet product, cornstarch, is good for slowing blood flow. I have used it when I cut too closely on a hoof trim or nicked the skin during shearing on our fiber goats. Tea bags soaked in warm water can also stop or slow blood flow. If you grow yarrow in the herb garden, chop a handful and apply to the bleeding area. Yarrow is a good plant for slowing blood flow and Epsom salt is a good aid for soaking bruises on legs and feet.
For When the Kids are on the Way
Lubricant, paper towels, and disposable exam gloves are included in our goat medicine cabinet. There will be times you are glad you have them, particularly during kidding season! You never know when you might have to help your doe deliver the kids. While problems don’t happen often, being ready with a well-stocked kidding supply box is necessary. Some items may already be in the everyday goat medicine cabinet such as scissors and syringes. Specifically, for birthing, add a nasal aspirator for cleaning the nostrils and mouth, and clamps or dental floss for tying off the umbilical cord. Most birthing kits include alcohol wipes or betadine for sterilizing any instruments.
Even if you don’t keep milking goats, a goat milking stand is a handy item to have when caring for goats. The head restraint helps restrict the goat’s movements and the height makes work easier on your back. Often it is helpful to have another person assist, especially if treating a sensitive area or the back legs. Working on the back legs of goats is always a tricky occasion, as they seem to want to kick as soon as you pick up the hoof. Goat stands can be purchased or made from scrap lumber.
If you are a new goat owner, the road ahead will be filled with interesting and heartwarming moments. Having a fully stocked goat medicine cabinet will help ease the stress when the road gets bumpy.
Originally published in the July/August 2019 issue of Goat Journal and regularly vetted for accuracy.