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  • Kendra R. Shatswell

Goat Medicine Cabinet - The Basics

Updated 2023 This list is by no means exhaustive, but here are some of the things I like to keep on hand. Yes, there are a lot...Know what items you can't find locally. Again...I am NOT a vet! When it comes to prescription and off-label drugs, PLEASE develop a relationship with your vet before obtaining or using these. If your vet is not goat-savvy, I encourage you to check out the information at the Facebook group Goat Vet Corner to learn more. It is not meant to take the place of a client/vet relationship but it can help you learn more about the drugs and dosages, plus give you some ideas of what to discuss with your vet.

 

Tools

Digital Thermometer: Knowing the goat’s temperature can help diagnose illness. The quicker the

read out, the better. Get two because you will likely misplace one! Clearly mark that it is for GOAT use, not human.


Weight tape or Scale: Essential to weigh to properly dose dewormers and medications. Can also measure with a tape using this formula – (HeartGirthxHeartGirthxBodyLength)/300. Note that it can be hard to get an accurate measurement without the goat standing square and on a level surface. For most dewormers, it is safe to round to the nearest 5 or 10lbs - Levamisole is an exception.


Syringes and Needles: I keep a variety of sizes and gauges. Most often, I use 3, 6, and 12cc syringes and 20, 18, or 16 gauge 1/2inch to 3/4inch needles.


Hoof Trimmers/Rasp: Not actually a medicine, but keeping hooves trimmed correctly can prevent hoof problems later on. I love my mini rasp for leveling!


Drench Gun: Best way to administer large volumes of liquid (bloat medication, activated charcoal etc.). I use the 30ml size.


Small Bolus gun: Best way to administer boluses and other non-liquid medicines or supplements, such as a zinc pill. Trust me, you do not want to use your fingers. A goat’s back teeth are amazingly sharp and their jaw incredibly powerful. I prefer the plastic.


Weak Kid Tube Feeder: I have never had to use one, thank goodness, but if you need this, you need it NOW. Don't forget that kids need warmed (temperature needs to read at least 99 or 100 degrees) before feeding! OB Lube and Gloves: In case of kidding complications, a safe lubricant is necessary. Gloves are also a very good idea, to both decrease the chance of infection in your does and also decrease the chance that you will contract any kind of zoonotic pathogens.Gloves are handy in so many situations, that you might as well buy a box. Lice Comb: If you ever deal with a very young kid with lice, combs are a very safe method for removal. Local veterinarian offices often carry them or they can be found online in a variety of designs. Infected kids will need to be combed daily for a couple weeks.



 

Medicines, Supplements Etc...


Dewormer: I typically use a combination of Ivermectin and Valbazen/Safeguard here. There are several different formulations. Dewormers work best given orally. Studies have shown pelleted and pour-on goat dewormers do not work well, either from the dosage being inconsistent or the kill rate being sub-par. Deworming is done on as-needed basis, never on a schedule, and you should stick with one class until it no longer works – no rotating. Safeguard and other fenbendazoles work well on tape worms but are usually a 3-5 day dose (you can also do a 3-5 day dose before doing a combo containing a fenbendazole.) Valbazen and Ivermectin PLUS work for liver flukes. Valbazen is not safe in pregnant does - If I do need to treat a pregnant doe or a doe I suspect MIGHT be pregnant, I will use Safeguard or Panacur instead of Valbazen - those three are in the same class. It is important to understand the classes so you do not combine two from the same class. Read these for more information - https://www.heftygoathollerfarm.com/post/are-you-deworming-your-goats-correctly and https://www.wormx.info/dewormers.


Antibiotic: I like to keep at least Penicillin and La200 or La300 on hand. There are many available, though most are off-label for goats. Probiotic: The best probiotic is a “cud tea” made from warm water and the cud from a healthy goat – but that isn’t always easy to do, so a probiotic paste is handy to have around when the goat’s rumen is upset from things like diarrhea, bloat, or any illness. There's some speculation as to the actual benefit but a probiotic should not do any harm.

Fortified Vitamin B: This contains B vitamins and thiamine. When the rumen is out of whack, it is not producing thiamine very well or at all, so it is often necessary to supplement. This is also the go-to treatment for illness with neurological symptoms, like goat polio and listeriosis. Just make sure it is fortified so it does contain thiamine and enough thiamine that you don't have to give massive doses. You can get thiamine from a vet.

Betadine or Iodine: Great for small wounds – cuts, scrapes, that sort of thing – Iodine is good, too, but usually needs to be diluted since it irritates tissue, with the exception of dipping newborn’s navels. Anti-Inflammatory: Two common anti-inflammatories are Meloxicam and Banamine. These are Rx but thanks to my vet, I keep a few doses of Banamine on hand (usually for pre-disbudding)and a bottle of Meloxicam tablets. Injectable banamine can be given orally but should only be given for a max of 3 days. CD/T Vaccine and Tetanus Antitoxin: CD/T vaccinates the animals against clostridium perfringens (usually types C & D, the most common) that cause enterotoxemia and tetanus. I only keep the vaccine when it needs administered - typically an initial dose followed by a booster in a few weeks, the once a year. I try to also give a booster before does kid, between 30-45 days pre-kidding - this gives the kids immunity. The antitoxin is for treatment, though if your goat is dealing with tetanus or clostridial diseases, the outcome is often poor. For more info on CDT read here - https://goats.extension.org/goat-vaccination-program/ and here https://www.canr.msu.edu/news/cdt_vaccinations_for_sheep_and_goats


Activated Charcoal: Gel or liquid. Best treatment for toxic plant ingestion. Usually has to be ordered, so nice to already have it on hand if you ever need it. It is one I ALWAYS keep.

Bloat Treatment: This works best in frothy bloat or ruminal acidosis. While flavored vegetable oil (I've flavored mine with Koolaid so they can taste it and know to swallow) works alright in a pinch, a bloat treatment will work better and faster and usually requires smaller amounts. I feel like it is less disturbing to an already-disturbed rumen, as well.

Copper Oxide Wire Particles (COWPs): These boluses are made of copper oxide, which digests very slowly and aids in parasite control. Great to administer these in conjunction with deworming or when parasite populations are likely to boom – warm, wet stretches of weather in the spring etc. These can also be beneficial if the goat's diet is high in sulfur, which is a copper antagonist. For more on COWPs look at https://www.wormx.info/copper-oxide-wire-particles


Electrolytes: Electrolytes are the best way to re-hydrate an animal, especially if one has lost a lot of fluids - electrolytes promote fluid balance, absorption of nutrients, and provides energy. Some electrolytes also come in gelling formulas. I prefer drenching over leaving the solution in water. In some cases, diarrhea is a good thing ridding, the body of potentially harmful substances so the cause of diarrhea needs to be determined. Personally, I only administer electrolytes in the case of potential dehydration, but some folks choose to use electrolytes preventatively in very hot weather or during shows or other stressful events etc. Another option is lactated ringers, if you are handy with an IV! Ketone Strips: These are the same ones used for humans, found at the drugstore. The best method for diagnosing ketosis in does. Just a note - Ketosis is a metabolic condition that is called pregnancy toxemia at the end of gestation and lactational ketosis during lactation - https://goats.extension.org/goat-ketosis/


Nutri-Drench or Propylene Glycol: Both of these are useful treatments for does experiencing ketosis. I typically keep Nutri-drench ONLY for this reason. Both can give the does critical energy boost from the calories, but propylene glycol (Nutri-Drench contains propylene glycol) can be an appetite suppressant. In the case of serious pregnancy toxemia or ketosis though, it is the recommended treatment.

Corn Syrup/Molasses: Both of these simple things are handy to have. I offer the does warm molasses water after kidding for a boost of both energy and iron. Corn syrup (I use Karo) can be used in place of Nutri-Drench or propylene glycol for calorie boosts to does with low energy. A dab on the gums provides calories and therefore energy to kids that have been chilled or are otherwise weak or unwilling to suckle (never feed a kid until its internal body temperature is at least 99 or 100 degrees, otherwise it cannot digest - warm first, THEN feed). Iron supplement: I keep Red Cell on hand in case of anemia. Red Cell contains the necessary building blocks to rebuild a red blood cell, such as iron, copper, Vitamin Bs etc...But the it takes time to rebuild red blood cells and the cause of anemia must be corrected. The most common cause of anemia is parasites. Iron supplements are best given orally, not injections.


Ammonium Chloride: If the diet is correct, folks are very unlikely to have issues with urinary calculi, but not impossible - some goats are genetically predispositioned to issues. It can help acidifiy the urine and dissolve the calculi – mineral deposits blocking the urethra, usually in male goats and especially wethers. It needs to be mixed with juice (like cranberry juice) or mixed in something like jelly, because it is very unpalatable and it is unlikely the goat will eat it otherwise. Python Dust/Cylence/Clean Up II: There are many lice treatments, but these are some of the things I've kept on hand for external parasites. Note Python Dust is not effective for sucking lice . Off label. Clean Up II is my current choice as it is safe for all ages, pregnancy and stges of lactation AND also kills the lice eggs so control can be achieved in one treatment. For mites, you will have to use an injectable - Dectomax is a good choice as it does not sting.

Terramycin (oxytetracycline hydrochloride): This is an ophthalmic antibiotic, meaning it is for in-eye use. Very handy to have in case of scrapes, pink eye, or other eye irritations. Calcium Supplement: I have not had to use this in my herd, but it is something I do keep on hand. There are many types of calcium supplements to treat hypocalcemia, including drenches, gels, and injectables - often called CMPK supplements (calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, and potassium). CMPK can also be used to help with grass tetany (hypomagnesemia) though this is usually more an issue in cattle than goats. Even tums can help in a pinch, in the case of a sluggish labor. Wound Care - Other: That is rather vague but folks have different comfort and skill levels when it comes to tending to wounds. If you can and want to stitch or staple up skin, then keep those things handy! I personally head to the vet in the event stitches are needed. I have started keeping AluShield on hand - it is an aluminum aerosol bandage. I especially like it after disbudding. I prefer it over BluKote because BluKote is not supposed to be used on food animals as it contains gentian violet. Gauze and bandage wraps. Wire Saw: Great tool for managing scurs or broken horns.


Mastitis Treatment: There aren't treatments specific to goats but ToDay (for lactating animals) or ToMorrow (for dry animals) are for the treatment of most mastitis. ToMorrow can also help in the case of ear infections in LaManchas. Zinc: Oral supplements can help bucks in rut, older animals that cannot utilize zinc much any longer, and can help with hair coats or hoof issues. oral supplements include tablets/pills, lozenges, or ZinPro. Zinc sulfate is often used in hoof baths or treatmets for hoof scald or hoof rot. Zinc oxide topicals can help with dermatitis or prevent urine scald on bucks. Milking Udder Care: Wipes to clean, either a dip cup that doesn't let the liquid flow back or a spray for post-milking. My current preference is FightBac spray, natural baby wipes, and keeping my hands as clean as possible so hand sanitizer. I also keep zinc oxide for any udder scrapes and some balms for dry skin.

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