How to Give Shots to Dairy Goats
Soon after the doeling is born, you need to give them 1 cc of BoSe and 1 cc of tetanus antitoxin. I use a 20 gauge 1/2" needle since it's pretty small. Just hold the little one or have someone else hold the doeling. Tetanus antitoxin needs to be refrigerated. You will need to get the BoSe from a vet. In Oregon, the soil is selenium deficient, so that is why we give them a shot of BoSe. Check in your part of the country to see if this shot is necessary. It's okay to give BoSe to a pregnant doe. One month before the kids are due, the doe needs a CDT shot (2 cc of CDT) and a BoSe (selenium) shot of 2 cc (at least in Oregon). 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. Get BoSe in a multi-dose amount as well. The tetanus antitoxin comes in a 1500 mg vial. Give 500 mg per baby which is approximately 1.62 cc, so the 1500 mg vial will be able to be given to 3 babies. This should be given right after their birth, or as soon as possible. At one month old, you will give the babies 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 a CDT shot right after the kids are born, but we have learned it is gentler on the babies systems to give them tetanus antitoxin right after birth. 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). If I have a choice of subcutaneously or IM, I prefer to give all medicine under the skin if it is just as effective, since for me it is easier subcutaneously. In Oregon we give our does and wethers Bose 4 times per year subcutaneously. The dose is 1 cc per 40 pounds. There is a special goat measuring tape that can be used to see how much they weigh. The kids get 1 cc of BoSe after birth, then at one month old 1 cc, then they get BoSe 2x/year, no 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. If you do get blood, make sure you pull it 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. My vet recommends that if I have to give an IM (intramuscular) shot to my goat, to give it in the back of the leg. Make sure you know where the sciatic nerve is so you can avoid that. One person told me they knew a goat who went lame after someone hit the sciatic nerve when trying to give an IM shot in the back of the leg. Another good place to give an IM shot is in the neck, but my vet told me that muscle is hard to find. If you do give the IM in the neck, you can use a 20 gauge, 1” needle.
The does and wethers 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, 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. I use the shorter, smaller needles when I can since it is easier on the animal, especially the little ones.
Before you give a shot subcutaneously, use a cotton ball and dip it into 70% rubbing alcohol and wipe the top of the medicine container. Use a sterile needle and syringe. Never use a needle more than once. 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.
When our goats are babies, 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.
If a medication is thick, it is a good idea to use a 16 gauge needle.
Give CDT to a pregnant doe 4 weeks before the due date.
In Oregon, a pregnant doe should receive 2 cc of BoSe one week before she is due.
When you give liquid medicine to a goat, you can use a syringe/feeding tube. Put the syringe in the 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 it with olive oil.
Purchase large boxes of needles and syringes to save money.
How to give a subcutaneous shot:
Wash your hands. Pull back on the syringe to let air out, then screw on the needle. Clean the lid of the medicine bottle with a cotton ball dipped in 70% rubbing alcohol. Pull back on the syringe and in again, and fill it with medicine to the cc you want. On the side of the goat, pull out the skin, and put the needle in. Pull out on the syringe slightly to see if blood is in the syringe. If there is not, push the medicine in gently, then when complete, pull the needle out and rub the area where you gave the 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 you accidentally get in a vein and the goat goes into shock. Ask your vet for some.
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)
Three Willows Ranch
Located in Western Oregon
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