No Vet? OK, You Can Do This.
If you’re like me, you don’t have a veterinarian available that will treat goats. You are going to have to take care of them all on your own without any professional help. Don’t fret! This is not the end of the world. Between other goat owners and the Internet there are plenty of tools to help you know what you need to do.
The first thing I learned to do on my own was disbudding. Since I was breeding dairy goats for milk production, I had to learn how to disbud my goat kids for sale. The last thing you want are horns on an animal you’ll be handling every day. Even if they are sweet, they can hurt you and other goats without meaning to. My first step was to contact a local goat farmer and ask her for help. She guided me on what equipment to get and how to do the procedure. Once I had my new Rhinehart X30 and goat disbudding box from Hoegger’s in my hands, I volunteered to spend an afternoon at her farm helping her with disbudding. This was some of the best help I could get. It was wonderful to have someone to guide me through the process and show me what I was looking for. Now I feel confident in disbudding my own goat kids.
The next thing I wanted to learn was how to do a fecal sample test. I wanted to be able to see what kinds of worms my goats had and in what quantities. The internet came to the rescue on this one. I searched several goat websites for information for how to do at home fecal testing. One site in particular had great step-by-step instructions. The Fias Co Farm site had lists of what equipment to get, where to get it, and an illustrated guide on what to do (http://fiascofarm.com/goats/fecals.htm).
Once I purchased a microscope and other equipment, I was ready to do my own fecal testing. I gathered some fresh fecal matter from my goats and prepared it according to the directions on the website. When I looked through the microscope lens for the first time and saw all the critters that were living in my goats, an amazing feeling of power came over me. I could actually see what was going on internally in my animals. Instead of guessing about whether my goats were suffering from coccidiosis or stomach worms or liver flukes or tapeworms, I could actually see them! I could now treat my animals with the appropriate medications to get their parasite levels in check. Thanks to Hoegger’s extensive stock of goat parasite controls, I was able to start medicating my goats properly for the parasites they actually had. Now I perform monthly fecal tests to monitor the parasite levels of my goats.
After mastering disbudding and fecal testing I decided I needed to go the next step and learn how to draw blood samples to test my goats for some of the common goat diseases. I found out that I could send blood samples directly to diagnostic testing labs without needing a veterinarian to sign off on them. To learn how to take a blood sample from a goat, I again asked some local animal owners for help. One goat owner came over and we both worked on taking samples from my goats. We struggled a little with trying to get a good sample. Two to three milliliters of blood were needed from each goat for all the tests I wanted to have done. We had a hard time getting enough blood out of some of the goats due to not having enough experience with taking blood samples. The next time I needed to get blood samples, I asked a local cow dairy farmer to come and help me. She had taken lots of blood samples from her cows over the years so she was confident she could help me get a goat blood sample. She held the goats while I used a needle and syringe to draw blood from their jugular veins. She watched me carefully and guided me in what I needed to do. By the end of taking samples from my five goats, I felt very comfortable with the procedure. I am now able to draw blood from a goat without any help at all.
It is always best to find a local vet who is willing to help with your goats, but, if you can’t find one, don’t worry. Thanks to the internet, helpful local animal owners, and mail-order catalogs, many of the procedures that goats need can be performed by you without veterinary help.
Hoegger Farmyard Contributor
Rose Bartiss, Rose’s Goats, Vermontville, NY