The blood is to be drawn from the jugular vein, located on the left side of the throat. If you place your hand near the bottom of the neck and press, you should see the vein pop up. First I will show a picture of the neck (already shaved) without the vein showing.
Totally flat. Notice where I have my hand, and how I have it cupped around Brooklyn’s throat. I have not applied pressure to the throat yet. Next are some pictures that show the vein. It’s hard to see but I’ve drawn some arrows along the path of the vein. You will know you have found the vein because it will pop up. You can tap on it, it will feel bouncy and like a thin cord.
Next you take your needle and insert it upwards into the skin and vein. Not too far or you’ll go through the vein and out the other side of it. Test to see if you are in the vein by gently pulling back on the plunger. If you are in the vein you will see blood.
And we’re done. We have 3cc’s of blood for testing.
Next I took the Vacutainer tube, wiping the tip of the needle with a cotton ball soaked with alcohol and the tip of the tube to make sure they were both clean. Then insert the needle into the Vacutainer tube. The tube contains vacuum action which will suck the blood from the syringe into the tube. Very nifty.
Take your tube of blood inside and prepare to ship to the lab. You will want to label each tube. For example, Brooke’s tube of blood was #1. Then on the corresponding Animal Identification Sheet on line 1 you would write Brooke, and fill in the other lines.
UPDATE February 3, 2005. Today we drew blood to test our other does. I asked my mother to come over and help me out. Apparently my experience with Brooke was purely BEGINNER’S LUCK because I could NOT get the needle into the vein of our other does. I kid you not — with Brooke, all I did was find the vein, tap it, poke it and voilà! Not so for our poor girls today, I poked and poked and poked, to no avail. Finally my mother (the real “natural”) stepped in for me and was able to find the veins after only a couple of pokes. Anyway, for those who have tried and not found it so easy, you now know that I had no luck with different does. I guess like humans, goats can have veins that are tough, or that roll around when you try to poke into them.
UPDATE April 26th, 2008. I had a friend come over and help me draw blood from all of our goats today. I learned a few things in the process. First of all, we drew blood from about 14 goats, and so there was a variety of situations we encountered. Some of the blood draws were very simple and took seconds, others we couldn’t find the vein for one reason or another. It was very instructive for me, as it showed me that just because the blood draw isn’t simple and easy, that doesn’t mean it’s me messing up. It just means the situation is different, so I have to handle it differently.
Here are some points for me to remember in the future:
- If the goat is pushing really hard against the milk stand, her muscles will be very tight in her neck area, and this will cause the vein you are looking for to hide. Stop what you are doing, and let the goat relax for a minute or so, and try again. Some of them push really hard against the milk stand, some just stand there. If you can get them to stop pushing against the milk stand, it will be a lot easier to find the vein. I also found I could locate the vein, if instead of cupping her neck, I took my finger and pushed into the groove alongside the throat, the vein would usually pop up because I was stopping the blood flow by pressing on it.
- The person holding the goat’s head needs to cup the goat’s throat in the pit of their arm at the elbow. This will ensure that the goat’s airway isn’t being cut off. If she can’t breathe, she’s going to start freaking out.
- My friend showed me how to hold the needle properly. First off, she said make sure you go into the vein with the needle pointed in a shovel direction. The long sharp tip will be at the back, near the goat. Using your dominant hand, place your thumb on the front side of the needle, at the top, and your index finger at the back. With your other hand, place your thumb where you pull the syringe. I’ll try to get some photos up.
- We used an old paint can with a hole poked in the top (using a hay hook) for the disposal of the “sharps”.