If you have animals you need to have an emergency first-aid kit available. It is a must and something that can make the difference between life and death. I speak from experience… I found out the hard way.
Each animal is different and will have different needs so prepare accordingly. It is especially important when you are dealing with livestock because unlike small animals, dogs or cats, most times you will need to address any issues that arise on your own. A trip to the vet isn’t always easy and if you do have a vet that deals with livestock they may not be able to get to your house right away and you will need to be prepared.
The first thing you want to do is keep a list of emergency numbers posted. You can keep one in the barn or coop, and another one inside your first-aid kit, maybe taped onto the inside cover. Easy enough right? Good, then while you are at it make an instruction sheet with some of the treatments you may need to deal with these emergencies. What is the treatment for bloat? Write it down and post it right along with your emergency numbers. You do not want to have to be trying to google it during a crisis.
I like to use plastic containers for my emergency kits so I can keep them in the barn or coop and they won’t get ruined. A Rubbermaid container works well for this. I also label each item with the correct dosage and keep measuring spoons and cups inside it as well. You need to know the weight of your animals so it may be a good idea to write that down as well and keep it with your instruction sheet. This is a list of the things you should stock in your goat first-aid kit.
Supplies and equipment:
- Rubbing alcohol for sterilizing equipment
- Hydrogen peroxide for cleaning wounds
- Betadine- for cleaning wounds
- Epsom Salt
- Baking soda should always be offered free choice anyway
- Vaseline or other lubricant
- Drenching Syringe- used to get liquids down their throat
- rubber gloves
- cotton balls
- gauze bandage
- elastic bandage
- Needles and syringes of various sizes – 3cc, 6cc, 15cc
- small clippers for shaving around wounds
- sharp scalpel
- sharp surgical scissors
- measuring cups and spoons
Include these medications:
- Pepto Bismal
- Milk of Magnesia
- dark beer, like Guiness
- Pedylite or powdered electrolytes for dehydration
- Probiotics such as Probios for replenishing good bacteria in the rumen
- 7 percent iodine
- Terramycin ointment for pinkeye or eye injuries
- Antiseptic spray
- Blood stop powder
- Epinephrine for reactions to injections
- Di-Methox or Kaolin pectin for scours (diarrhea)
- Procaine penicillin, for pneumonia and other infections
- CDT antitoxin- for treatment of enterotoxemia (overeating disease caused when a goat eats too much grain, lush grasses or milk)
- Antibiotic ointment
- Activated charcoal for poisoning such as Toxiban
- Children’s Benadryl syrup for congestion or breathing problems
Most items you can get at your local pharmacy while others you may be able to find at a feed store, Tractor Supply, on line or a livestock supply catalog. None of these items requires a prescription.
You need to pay close attention to your goats body language so you can recognize any signs of illness:
- Not chewing their cud
- Not eating or drinking
- Not standing
- Not passing urine
- Feces aren’t pellets
- Pressing head against a wall or fence
- Pale or grey inner eyelids or gums
- Grinding teeth
- Runny eyes or nose
- Hot udder
- Unusual crying or screaming
- Limping or staggering
- Ears held oddly
One of the most important things about keeping goats is to make sure that they stay healthy. It’s a good idea to check your goats everyday and take note of their behavior. Notice their posture, a healthy goat usually carries their head and tail up. Listen to their cries, a sick goat will sometimes moan, scream or even worse be silent and away from the herd. Take their temperature. A normal temperature for a goat is between 101-104 degrees F. A high temperature can mean an infection and a low temperature can signal rumen trouble. To take their temperature use either a digital or glass rectal thermometer. If you use a glass one tie a string around the end of it so you can retrieve it if it goes in too far.
- Immobilize the goat, you can stand so each of your legs is on each side of the goat, have someone help you to hold them still, tie them to a fence or secure them in the milking stand.
- Lubricate the thermometer- use KY jelly or Vasoline
- Insert the thermometer a few inches into the goats rectum and hold in place for 2 minutes
- Slowly remove the thermometer
- read and record the temperature
- Use rubbing alcohol to clean the thermometer
Another important thing to consider when keeping goats is how to protect them from toxins. Goats are curious and may very well get into something they shouldn’t have. You want to make sure to remove anything that will put a goat at risk.
Items that are toxic include:
- Lead paint
- Railroad ties- they contain creosote
- Plastic- bags, twine. Goats can swallow them and suffer from a blocked rumen. Make sure to dispose of plastic wrappers from mineral blocks and other types of feed.
- Solvents and other chemicals
- Certain plants, trees and shrubs- Azalea,Boxwoods, Lobelia, Lupines, Rhododendron, Rhubarb, Wild Hydrangea, Oaks, Pine trees, Ground Ivy and Clover are just a FEW examples. The list is long so its important to familiarize yourself with it. Not all of these will kill your goat but they may cause injury or illness.
- Goat feed- although it isn’t toxic, if your goat gets into their feed they will eat until it is gone and this can cause death. Store your grain away from your goats in an area they can not access.
Bloat is a serious illness and can be fatal for goats. When gas builds up in the goats rumen and they can not expel it the pressure builds up causing them to “bloat”. The left side of the goat becomes distended and that can cause difficulty breathing.
Some things that can cause bloat:
- A sudden change in diet
- Eating foods that produce a lot of gas in a short period of time
- Stress- move to a new location
Signs of bloat:
- Distended abdomen, mainly on the left side
- Grinding teeth
- Crying, screaming
- Difficulty breathing
Ways to prevent bloat:
- Offer baking soda free choice- it balances the pH in the rumen
- Make changes to their diet slowly
- Restrict grazing time
Treatment for bloat:
I have come across several different methods on the internet for treating bloat so you may want to check with your vet and find out what they recommend. Some websites say you can give your goat a cup of mineral oil or corn oil using a drenching syringe. Some say to mix a couple of large tablespoons of baking soda in with the oil. Others say to use milk of magnesia while still others tell you never to use mineral oil Confusing to say the least. My vet had me drench our goats using a mixture of 1/2 cup of dark beer, 1 Tablespoon of Epsom salt and 1 ounce of Kaopectate. After you drench your goat you need to walk them. You should also begin massaging their left side. This will help to break up any air bubbles. If the bloat is very bad and you can’t get the goat to expel the gas then you need to call a vet immediately. Don’t hesitate.
- 1ml=15 drops= 1cc
- 1teaspoon=1 gram= 5cc
- 1 Tablespoon= 1/2 ounce= 15cc
- 2 Tablespoons= 1 ounce= 30cc
- 1 pint= 16 ounces= 480cc
Take the time now to put together your first-aid kit and pray that you will never have to use it.
One last thing… remember to kiss and hug your goats everyday. They also love a good scratching.