How to Give Shots to Dairy Goats

Soon after the kid is born, we give him/her 1 cc of BoSe since western Oregon is selenium deficient. If the doe didn't get her 2cc of CDT one month before kidding, we give the kid 1 cc of tetanus antitoxin. We use a 20 gauge 1/2" needle with subcutaneous shots such as these. Just hold the kid, or even better, have someone else hold the kid while you give it the injection. Tetanus antitoxin needs to be refrigerated, but BoSe does not. You will need to get the BoSe from a vet preferably in a multi-dose amount. Feed stores usually carry tetanus antitoxin. One month before the kids are due, we give the doe 2 cc of CDT and BoSe (selenium) 2 cc. It's okay to give BoSe to a pregnant doe. Three weeks before she is due, we give her Ivermectin (de-wormer). Since you don't know how many kids your goat will have, buy a bottle of CDT with about 10 doses. You can purchase CDT at feed stores. The tetanus antitoxin comes in a 1500 mg vial. Give 500 mg per kid which is approximately 1.62 cc, so the 1500 mg vial will be enough for 3 kids. At one month old, the kids are given 2 cc of CDT, and then at 2 months old they will again get 2cc of CDT.  A cc is the same as an ml. Some people give the kid CDT right after birth, and others give it tetanus antitoxin which is supposed to be gentler on the system. Neither, however, is necessary if the doe was given 2cc of CDT one month before the due date since the kid inside of her got some CDT from his/her mother. This should last in the kid's system up until the kid is approximately one month old at which time he/she needs 2cc of CDT.
Medicine can sometimes be given under the skin (subcutaneously) or in the muscle (IM).  For example, Penicillin can be given subcutaneously even if it says IM.  Some medicine on the other hand must can be given IM (intramuscular). We give our dairy goats Bose 4 times per year subcutaneously. The dose is 1 cc per 40 pounds. You can use a goat measuring tape to estimate how much they weigh or you can use a scale. At one month old, we give the kids 1cc of Bose, and then we give it to the kids twice a year. For our adult goats, we give them BoSe approximately once every three months, and we don't give more than 2 cc for an adult goat.

An IM (intramuscular) shot needs a longer needle which goes into a big muscle that is recommended for goats. Make sure you pull back on the syringe to see if you get blood from a vein instead of getting into the muscle. This should be done giving subcutaneous shots as well. If you do get blood, make sure you pull the needle out and try again. It is very important to not put an IM injection into a vein unless your vet tells you the particular medicine is okay either way. We give IM (intramuscular) shots to our goats in the back of the upper thigh. Make sure you know where the sciatic nerve is so you can avoid that. If you hit the sciatic nerve when trying to give an IM shot in the back of the leg, your goat can become lame. Another good place to give an IM shot is in the neck, but this muscle is more difficult to find. If you do give the IM in the neck, you can use a 20 gauge, 1” needle. IM shots are given at a 90 degree angle.

The dairy goats need an annual booster of 2 cc of CDT once a year, so mark your calendar to do this. The CDT can be used until the expiration date that is printed on the bottle.

In determining what size of needle to use for different types of shots, remember that the larger the number, the smaller the gauge. For example, a 20 gauge needle would have a larger gauge than a 22 gauge needle. We like to use shorter, smaller needles for subcutaneous shots since it is easier on the animal, especially the little ones. If a medication is thick, it is a good idea to use a 16 gauge needle.

When our goats are kids, we just hold them while giving them shots, but after they are a couple of months old, we put them on the milk stand to give them shots. Distracting them with a snack such as blackberry leaves, maple leaves or clippings from a Douglas Fir helps keep them preoccupied while we give their shots to them.

It's a good idea economically and for convenience to purchase large boxes of needles and syringes instead of purchasing them individually.

When you give liquid medicine to a goat, you can use a syringe/feeding tube.  Put the syringe in the left side of the mouth near the back, not where the teeth are.  If the tube does not easily slide in and out of the syringe, rub the inside of it with vegetable oil such as olive oil.

Purchase large boxes of needles and syringes to save money.

If your goat has a high population of worms, you will want to use a dewormer. Read the instructions on the dewormer you are giving to see how much to give your goat. If you don't have a scale, you can use a goat weigh tape to get an estimate.

How to give a subcutaneous (SubQ) injections:

Before you begin, wash your hands. Make sure you use a sterile needle and syringe that have never been used. Use a cotton ball and dip it into 70% rubbing alcohol and wipe the top of the medicine container. Never use a needle or syringe more than once. Pull back on the syringe to the level of ml's you will be giving the goat. For example, if you are going to give a 2 ml injection, pull the syringe back to 2 ml. Screw on the needle.  Turn the medicine bottle upside down, holding it at eye level. Stick the needle into the medicine container, push in the syringe, then fill it with medicine to the cc/ml you want.  Tap on the syringe to get any air bubbles out. There are a few different places appropriate to give the injection. One good place is behind the elbow because there are no blood vessels there. Pull out the skin up and into a tent, and put the needle in parallel to the skin.  Pull out on the syringe slightly to see if blood is in the syringe.  If there is not, let go of the tent and push the medicine in gently. When completed, pull the needle out and rub the area where you gave the shot. After you give the shot to the goat, gently rub the place you gave the shot. Your goat will be happy to get a treat such as oats or raisins after getting a shot.

It is best to have a vet give IV (intravenous) shots.  If you do give an IV, the blood vessel is like a hose, so don’t shoot the needle straight into the body.  Stick it like you would into a hose.  Put 70% rubbing alcohol on the area where you will give the IV. 

You should keep epinephrine on hand in case your goat goes into anaphylactic shock from an allergic reaction to medication. Epinephrine can be given either SubQ or IM. Kids should be given 0.1 ml. For adults the dose is 0.5-1.0 ml/100 lb body weight at 1:1000 strength. You can get Epinephrine from your vet.

Keep a record of the date, type of shot, and how many cc’s were given to which goat, and mark your calendar for the next date this shot will need to be given.

“Know well the condition of your flocks, and pay attention to your herds.”  (Proverbs 27:23)

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