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From Vitamins to Cardboard Tubes

Knocknagulagh Boer Goat Stud


Goat Breeders
First Aid Kit

By Darrell Bishop
Osory Boer Goat Stud NSW Australia

At the top of my list is a vial of Vitamin B1. The effect of administering 5 ml intravenously to a goat showing symptoms of "stargazing" (or blindness or cobalt deficiency) is almost immediate. The goat is up and away fully recovered, within half and hour. Remember to regularly replenish your B1 stocks (every six months or so) as it has a limited shelf life.

Other vitamins are equally as useful. Keep a multivitamin such as Vitamin A-D-E or just B12 on hand as they seem to be good for 'what-ever ails them'. If you take a goat to your vet for just about anything, you will notice that a multivitamin injection is part of his or her standard procedure. 

As much as anything, vitamins help with stress, which can be a significant contributor to whether or not and animal makes a speedy recovery. This is especially the case in a hard season, when stock may already be in a lowered condition when an emergency happens.

After vitamins, the next most important item that should be in every goat farmer's first aid kit is a packet of Epsom Salts. Not only are Epsom Salts indicated for cases of magnesium deficiency, but it is also needed for retained afterbirths. In this case, administer two tablespoons dissolved in water and the doe will pass the afterbirth within two hours. It is invaluable as a blood purifier and will prevent septicaemia (without the use of antibiotics).

As for antibiotics, I keep two types on hand: 1 penicillin based, for general infections, and another tetracycline based if the animal has pneumonia, and for some obstetric cases. Take care administering the latter, it is a very thick fluid so you need a thicker-than-normal gauge needle on hand to draw it out, but then change to a finer gauge to administer it as it can be quite painful for the goat otherwise. If in doubt contact your vet, but just remember, that in all cases where you have introduced a possible source of infection-for example if you have assisted a birth-you should administer a course of antibiotics.


To treat scours you should keep scourban or neo-sulcin tablets on hand, but do not forget to treat the cause of the scours as well. For cases of bloat, some producers use vegetable oil but I prefer to use bicarbonate of soda as I have found that in inexperienced hands the oil can easily find its way into the animal's lungs.

Other essentials in this category include electrolytes (such as vytrate or lectade) which should be administered to any goat that has been down for any time, and especially to animals suffering from dehydration due to scouring or other causes: and glucose. There are several proprietary brands available from chemists or supermarkets: glucodin is the most readily available in Australia. For very weakened animals, administer electrolytes and glucose every few hours as a drench (according to the directions on the pack).

All breeders should keep at least one pack of propylene glycol on hand just in case pregnancy toxaemia should strike. In most instances, if you should have to make a trip to town at the time the emergency presents itself, it is too late to save the doe.

I also keep stitching material on hand. Some people use dental floss and an ordinary needle but I prefer the type with the needle already attached to the thread. Last week I did a very neat job on a Boer doe's ear after the doe had managed to catch her ear tag and rip the length of her ear into two flaps.

I have treated simple bone fractures myself successfully for some time and in fact over the years I have shown many goats, which had a broken leg at one time. The key here is to start a collection of cardboard cylinders of different sizes from the inner tube of your toilet rolls to the larger and sturdier tube on the inside of a roll of fabric. These are my casts. For new kids the toilet roll size is perfect. Slip it over their legs (right down to the base of the hoof so they have something to walk on), pack it well with cotton wool, then wrap firmly, but not too tightly, with a clean bandage. I use the same system with older goats, just varying the size and length of the cylinder to suit. If the cylinder is too narrow to fit over the hoof, cut it lengthwise into two halves, again pack with cotton wool or gauze, and wrap. For severe breaks, you might use pre-plastered bandages that you dip in water as you wrap. The beauty of the cardboard cylinders is that they are light enough so not to cause any muscular or hip damage as the animal moves around, yet strong enough to last until the leg is mended. They also allow air circulation, thereby saving infection later.

q       To finish your first aid kit, remember the usual hardware:

q       A scalpel blade,

q       Good sharp scissors, clean soft gauze and/or cotton wool, and antiseptic solution (e.g. dettol),

q       A variety of disposable single-use syringes including 1 ml, 5ml, 10 ml and 20 ml;

q       A variety of different gauge needles from 18 gauge to 22 gauge;

q       and (for your safety as well as your animals,) a pack of disposable gloves.

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