Vaccinating your own goats is a great way to save money if you don’t have an aversion to needles. If you do…well, you can still save money because paying your neighbor in beers is cheaper than paying a veterinarian.

vaccine
My preferred brand of CDT vaccine

VACCINATING A GOAT FOR CDT

Why should I spend money to do this? Because clostridium perfringens C & D strains are major killers of goats, especially under non-ideal management conditions. Tetanus, (the “T” in CDT), is also a major killer of goats and resides in most dirt. Basically, this vaccine is very cheap insurance.

How do I do this? Buy the vaccine from Tractor Supply or order it online, (beware – ordering vaccines online requires overnight shipping to keep the vaccine good, which is +$25 added to the price). I personally prefer the vaccine shown in the above illustration. Other brands have been very prone to giving my goats vaccine abscesses.

Supplies:

  1. CDT Vaccine (NOT tetanus antitoxin – that is not a vaccine)
  2. 1 inch long 20 or 21 gauge needles
  3. 3 to 6 ml size syringes depending on the dose size for the animal
  4. Ice and a container to hold it to keep the vaccine cooled
  5. A ziploc bag to keep the vaccine in to prevent the bottle from becoming dirty

Technique:

Draw up your vaccine just before you plan to vaccinate using a clean needle and syringe. If you are doing a ton of goats some producers will save a few pennies by keeping a clean needle in the vaccine and reusing a ‘dirty’ needle for vaccinating multiple animals. Remember if you do this that if you overturn your vaccine…vaccine can spill out of that needle stuck through the lid. You will also still have to change ‘dirty’ needles every few animals because the needle dulls AND using dirty needles means you can pass infection from one animal to the next just like with humans.

 If you are going to potentially eat this animal – pinch up a tent of skin just behind the ear and away from the good cuts of meat. If you are going to pack this animal – pinch up a tent of skin on the neck and not in a spot where a pack strap may cross. At one end of your “tent” stick the needle in. You want to inject between the skin and the muscle for a “subQ” or “subcutaneous” vaccination. Pull back to make sure you are not in a blood vessel. If you have trouble pulling back, you’re good. If you pull back and see blood, remove you needle without injecting the vaccine and choose a different spot.

It is normal in ruminants to get an abscess at the sight of vaccination. Remember that vaccine abscesses and CL abscesses can look similar. Avoid vaccinating animals you plan to sale in areas where CL abscesses normally form or you may get difficult questions from a buyer.

Hints:

  1. Realize that vaccine is STERILE but if you get the vial covered in dirt, especially the lid, then the vaccine is NOT STERILE. Many vaccines say “use all doses at time of opening” for this reason. You can store vaccines that say this and use them, but store them in the fridge in a clean ziploc and in an upright position.
  2. Always keep vaccines on ice. Especially live and modified live ones. Killed vaccines are often stable enough to tolerate higher temperatures, but don’t risk your investment. Ice is cheaper than new vaccines.
  3. Read the label. It sounds simple, but always read the label. I had a vaccine company change the dose size on me for their vaccine, and out of habit because I didn’t bother to re-read the bottle I gave the wrong dose!
  4. Never risk it. If you see blood when you pull back, don’t inject. Goats can go into shock and die if a vaccine goes directly into their blood stream. If you are worried about this, purchase epi pens from the drugstore or epinephrine from your vet to inject into a goat that goes into shock to save its life.
  5. Watch the meat and milk withdrawal time for your vaccine

Vaccine1
The only rabies vaccine available for goats in the USA is IMRAB Sheep Rabies 

VACCINATING A GOAT FOR RABIES

Why should I spend money to do this? This is for high value animals only. Your favorite packer, or your daughter’s pet are worth vaccinating. I also vaccinate my animals because they are often interact with the public and signs of rabies in goats are not as obvious as the slobbering killer response you get in rabid raccoons. I want to avoid being sued!

How do I do this? In most states you will have to get your vet to order rabies for you, even though the option to buy shows up for everyone online. Ask what the cost is for them to sell you the vaccine. Not all vets will feel comfortable handing the vaccine over to you. If they don’t, make sure you know before the vaccine is ordered how much the vet will charge you to administer the vaccine. Also realize that the low demand for rabies vaccines for goats means even if you have only 3 animals you may have to purchase the entire 10 dose bottle. Rabies vaccines don’t last long, so you will end up wasting the 7 doses you didn’t need.

Make sure you or the vet order IMRAB Sheep vaccine because that vaccine works for goats. Not all rabies vaccines  have research demonstrating efficacy in goats. This one does, but for complete protection the company says you must vaccinate every year. Personally, rabies vaccines generally provide protection much, much longer in most mammals than a year or two and I generally vaccinate when their is money available in the budget to do so – which is not every year.

Supplies:

  1. IMRAB Sheep Rabies
  2. 1 inch long 20 or 21 gauge needles
  3. 3 ml size syringes depending on the dose size for the animal
  4. Ice and a container to hold it to keep the vaccine cooled
  5. A ziploc bag to keep the vaccine in to prevent the bottle from becoming dirty

Technique:

Draw up your vaccine just before you plan to vaccinate using a clean needle and syringe. If you are doing a ton of goats some producers will save a few pennies by keeping a clean needle in the vaccine and reusing a ‘dirty’ needle for vaccinating multiple animals. Remember if you do this that if you overturn your vaccine…vaccine can spill out of that needle stuck through the lid. You will also still have to change ‘dirty’ needles every few animals because the needle dulls AND using dirty needles means you can pass infection from one animal to the next just like with humans.

 If you are going to potentially eat this animal – pinch up a tent of skin just behind the ear and away from the good cuts of meat. If you are going to pack this animal – pinch up a tent of skin on the neck and not in a spot where a pack strap may cross. At one end of your “tent” stick the needle in. You want to inject between the skin and the muscle for a “subQ” or “subcutaneous” vaccination. Pull back to make sure you are not in a blood vessel. If you have trouble pulling back, you’re good. If you pull back and see blood, remove you needle without injecting the vaccine and choose a different spot.

It is normal in ruminants to get an abscess at the sight of vaccination. Remember that vaccine abscesses and CL abscesses can look similar. Avoid vaccinating animals you plan to sale in areas where CL abscesses normally form or you may get difficult questions from a buyer. With rabies, having been rabies vaccinated myself, don’t be surprised if the goats look a little ill the next morning. Those vaccines can be very nasty and make you feel terrible for a bit. But it beats dying of rabies.

Hints:

  1. Realize that vaccine is STERILE but if you get the vial covered in dirt, especially the lid, then the vaccine is NOT STERILE. Many vaccines say “use all doses at time of opening” for this reason. You can store vaccines that say this and use them, but store them in the fridge in a clean ziploc and in an upright position.
  2. Always keep vaccines on ice. Especially live and modified live ones. Killed vaccines are often stable enough to tolerate higher temperatures, but don’t risk your investment. Ice is cheaper than new vaccines.
  3. Read the label. It sounds simple, but always read the label. I had a vaccine company change the dose size on me for their vaccine, and out of habit because I didn’t bother to re-read the bottle I gave the wrong dose!
  4. Never risk it. If you see blood when you pull back, don’t inject. Goats can go into shock and die if a vaccine goes directly into their blood stream. If you are worried about this, purchase epi pens from the drugstore or epinephrine from your vet to inject into a goat that goes into shock to save its life.
  5. Watch the meat and milk withdrawal time for your vaccine