I recently had occasion to put together a list of basics for some folks new to owning dairy goats, and though it may look intimidating, remember that you don’t have to go out and buy all this stuff at once! Most of it you will accumulate here and there as time goes by. You will need to have some items assembled before you can proceed, though. Milking equipment falls into this category. It’s pretty difficult to do a good job of milking without the things you need to do it. If at all possible, be sure to check the local classifieds, Craigslist, or eBay to see if you can find used equipment before rushing out to by new items. Lots of times you can find what you need and save some money!
- Always have your veterinarian’s phone number available where you can find it immediately.
- Phone numbers of friends and acquaintances who own goats and are willing to help you if need be.
- Always be sure goats have shelter from the weather, access to clean, fresh water, and an adequate mineral supplement for your area (ask your vet to recommend one).
- Invest in a good all-purpose reference book on dairy goat management. There are a number of excellent ones on the market—many are even available in Kindle editions (a few titles are Goats for Dummies by Cheryl K. Smith, Storey’s Guide to Raising Dairy Goats by Jerry Belanger, and The Whole Goat Handbook by Janet Hurst. There are many more. Check them out!)
- Know the normal range of vital signs:
- Temperature: 101.5-104⁰ F.
- Pulse: 70-80 beats/minute (can be faster in kids)
- Respirations: 12-20/minute (can be faster in kids)
- 7% Iodine for dipping navels. Tamed iodine spray is not sufficient for this job.
- Rounded- end scissors for clipping navels
- Rubbing alcohol for cleaning scissors after use
- A supply of clean old towels for drying newborn kids
- Tetanus antitoxin (kids need 250-500 IU. Injections—this is roughly 1 ml. or 300 units)
- Sterile disposable 3 cc. syringes with 1-inch 20 gauge needles
- For bottle-feeding: Bottles & nipples (your choice Pritchard or regular lamb nipples) or a Lambar set-up for feeding kids. Your choice, depending on how many you have and if you can/want to feed by hand or not. You will also need a brush to scrub the inside of the bottles or comparable equipment to clean Lambar tubing.
- Optional: Pro-Max Multi-paste (a nutritional booster. Good to give whenever administering an antibiotic to older animals also)—you can substitute a different brand, if you wish. It’s just what I’ve used.
For slightly older kids:
- Collars: You will want them to learn to lead ASAP. You can color code them to their dams, too, which is handy if several look alike.
- CDT vaccine (AKA “Three-way,” contains Clostridium perfringens types C & D, plus Tetanus toxoid): For protection against enterotoxemia and tetanus. Kids will need an initial 2 ml. dose with a booster 3 weeks later, and an annual booster thereafter.
- Elastrator with rubber bands for castrating buck kids
- Disbudding iron: Be sure you get an electric one that is sufficiently powerful to get hot enough and stay hot. Don’t go cheap here. It will only result in having to deal with scurs (small deformed horns) or worse, having to go back and dehorn later.
- Tattooing kit with numbers, letters, and paste: You may not need these if your goats are unregistered.
- Kid box: Very handy if you have to tattoo or disbud by yourself. Can be bought on-line, or you can build your own if you’re able. Here’s a link to instructions on building one yourself: http://www.boergoats.com/clean/articleads.php?art=385
- Di-Methox coccidiosis treatment—or your choice of brand. This is what I’ve used.
For mature milking does:
- Collars: Indispensable for handling goats! It’s good to have a lead or two also.
- Milking/grooming stand: You can build your own or buy one on-line, though these are pricey. It can also double as a grooming stand if you can pull it away from the wall. Here’s a link to instructions for building one: http://www.motherearthnews.com/diy/homemade-goat-milking-stand-zmaz02jjzgoe.aspx
- Hoof trimmer
- Electric clippers: Necessary for clipping udders, around wounds, and body clipping
- Large dose syringe (50 cc.) or drenching syringe for giving liquid medicines and de-wormer
- CDT vaccine for annual booster shots
- De-wormer: Consult with your veterinarian on which to use when.
- 5-qt. tinned or stainless steel bucket to milk into. Bucket and equipment must be made of non-porous, non-reactive materials (i.e. no aluminum or plastic) that can be sterilized.
- Tinned or stainless steel milk strainer
- Disposable paper milk filters
- 8-qt. or larger tinned or stainless steel bucket to strain milk into after milking. Should have a cover
- Strip cup
- Udder wash or teat wipes to clean udder and teats before milking
- 1% iodine teat dip, Nolvasan, or Fight-Bac for treating teat ends after milking
- Disposable paper towels
- Glass containers for storing your clean, strained milk: ½-gallon canning jars work well and are relatively inexpensive.
- California Mastitis Test Kit (CMT), in case you suspect mastitis
- Rubbing alcohol
- Cotton balls
- Disposable Nitrile gloves
- Rectal thermometer for animals: These have a ring on the end so you can tie them onto tails to help keep them in place. Digital thermometers are available also.
- Measuring tape for obtaining weights: You don’t need a special tape for this. Weight tables for goats are available on-line or in numerous books on goats. Here’s a link to one on-line: http://fiascofarm.com/goats/weight-chart.htm
- Udder balm
- Tamed iodine or Blu-Kote spray (antiseptic)
- Ointment for cuts & scrapes
- Mineral oil (for grass bloat)
- Milk of magnesia (anti-constipation)
- Kaopectate (anti-diarrhea)
- Propylene glycol (for ketosis)
- Dairy safe UltraBoss liquid for external parasites (lice): Can also be used as fly & mosquito repellent.
- Several disposable sterile 3 cc. & 12 cc. syringes. You can buy them inexpensively in boxes of 100. Don’t worry, you will use them.
- Sterile 1-inch 20 gauge needles—it’s good to have a few 18 gauge needles on hand for giving antibiotics, too. These can also be purchased in boxes of 100.
- Homemade Electrolyte Recipe: Here’s mine (sorry, but I don’t remember where I got it!). There’s a slightly different one in Goats for Dummies on p. 197:
- 2 tsp. table salt
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- 8 Tbsp. honey, white corn syrup, or crystalline dextrose (do not use white sugar)
- 1 gallon warm water
- Add the salt, soda, and honey or corn syrup to the warm water. Administer using a dose or drenching syringe. Give an adult goat 1 pint or a smaller goat or kid ½-1 cup every 6 hours until diarrhea stops. Always wait an hour before feeding milk to a kid who’s gotten a dose of electrolytes—and don’t mix the two together!