As a rule, given plenty of fresh air, clean water and appropriate food and shelter, goats are easy keepers. They really are quite hardy. But sometimes accidents and illness happen, and when they do, it’s good to be prepared. In addition to basic first-aid supplies, here is a list of things I like to keep in my goat medicine chest at all times.
All of the following items can be bought either at a feed store or drugstore and do not require a prescription.
Fortified Vitamin B Complex
One of the more common and most easily remedied goat illnesses is goat polio, which is a deficiency of thiamine (Vitamin B1). In a true polio case, you will want to have straight thiamine, which is available only by prescription, but if your goat is in an early stage, you can often turn them around with the more readily available Fortified B Complex. When we have goats off feed for more than one meal, we generally boost them with a big shot of this.
Broad Spectrum Antibiotic
Our usual choice to keep on hand is Biomycin 200. It is a low-sting formulation of the same antibiotic in LA 200, oxytetracycline. This antibiotic is our go-to for wounds or pneumonia cases. (As with all drugs, talk to your vet about proper usage/dosage, withdrawals for milk and meat, etc.)
Kaopectate Or Pepto Bismol
If you only have a few goats, just use the people formula. If you have a giant herd, you can get bulk sizes at the feed store. We rarely use these drugs, but they are good to have on hand if your goats get into weird plants that cause stomach upset or if you have scouring kids. A day or two of scours might not affect an adult too badly, but can really take a toll on kids.
Clostridium Perfringens C&D Antitoxin
If you are lucky, you will never need this, but I would never be without it. This is the antidote to enterotoxemia, which can very quickly claim a kid’s life, even after they have received their first vaccination of the toxin. Order this and keep it in your fridge. If a goat gets entero, this is the only thing that will save it. It’s an inexpensive insurance policy.
If your goat is scouring, off feed or otherwise losing hydration, things can go from bad to worse in a hurry. We like to use electrolyte packets (which we call “goat-orade”) from the feed store, but in a pinch you could use Pedialyte. The livestock electrolyte powder can be stored long-term, unopened, so we always try to keep a few on hand.
The following must be obtained from a vet. If you can explain why you are asking for it, they should be willing to release it to you.
Have this on hand for goat polio, as described earlier. If you have a full-blown case, you need to use just straight B1. You will be giving a lot of it, and the fortified B would have to be given in too high of a dose to be practical. Our vet trusts us with this, as it is just a vitamin. Yours may not. If not, start your goat on the fortified B and take it to the vet as soon as possible.
This pain reliever is great to have on hand for accidents if your vet will agree to it. We don’t need Banamine often, but when a goat’s in obvious pain, it’s a relief not to have to add to its distress by transporting it 30 miles to the vet. As with all drugs, talk to your vet about proper usage/dosage, withdrawals for milk and meat, etc.
In addition to the medicines listed, we keep boxes of syringes in both 3cc and 12cc sizes, plus plenty of 1-inch needles for administering of any of the above medications. We also keep a 50cc drenching gun and, as noted at the beginning of the article, many standard first-aid items, like vet wrap and blood stop powder.
Keeping goats, like all other endeavors, is easier and more enjoyable when you are prepared. Stock your medicine cabinet now to help further your preparedness.