How to Draw Blood – Instructions

Check here for Washington Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory’s (WADDL) current fee schedule, prices are subject to change.

We needed to draw blood to test our does for CAE. I have never drawn blood but had studied one webpage with photos and read about how to do it, plus asked for advice from goat email lists that I’m on. And my mother is a trained phlebotomist who says her instructor told her she was a “natural” so maybe I inherited the talent. 🙂

I asked my son to take pictures so I could create a tutorial for others who need to draw blood for testing. Today we are drawing blood from Brooklyn to test for CAE (Caprine Arthritis Encephilitis). There are several other tests that require blood for testing. For CAE, you will need 3cc’s of blood.

We shipped our samples to WADDL (Washington Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory). For CAE testing: If you live out of state (in other words, if you do not live in the state of Washington) the charge is $10 accession fee to accept the samples and $6.00 for each tube (animal) being tested.

PART ONE: Items needed
First, let’s run through the list of items you will need on hand for drawing blood; gather these all together ahead of time:

  • Rubbing Alcohol
  • Paper towels or cotton balls
  • Needle syringe that will hold at least 3cc’s
  • Needle tip measuring 3/4″ x 20A way to tie your goat in place or someone to hold him/her still
  • Vacutainer Blood Tubes ( “red-top” clot tube or serum separator tube)
  • Sharpie Marker to label the tubes

Needles and syringes can usually be purchased from your local feedstore, or they can be purchased online from sites that cater to livestock owners. Jeffers, Valley Vet, etc.

The Vacutainer Blood Tubes were a little harder for me to locate. When I was looking for them online I was unable to find them, but when I did a search just now actually using the correct term for the tubes “Vacutainer” there were lots of hits. Some folks get theirs from their veterinarian, if you are close to a dairy they may sell you some. To give you an idea of price range, I was able to purchase mine (100 tubes) for $14.99 plus shipping/handling.

A woman in my state found hers locally for $24.99. A friend of mine found his through PBS Animal Health. Go to and search for Monoject Blood Collection Tubes. His cost was $17.49 for 100 tubes plus shipping.

Label the tubes with the name of each goat, as well as corresponding numbers for the Animal Identification Sheet.

PART TWO: When you have all your supplies together, you are ready to draw the blood, see photo tutorial page.

PART THREE: Shipping your samples to the laboratory.


  • Paperwork for Laboratory (Assession Form)
  • Animal Identification Sheet from WADDL for multiple animals (this is the sheet which you identify the tubes and state which tests you want done). On this sheet you will match the numbered tubes to the corresponding lines.
  • Plastic bags
  • Paper towels, newspaper, “peanuts” or bubble wrap
  • Cardboard Box
  • Clear packaging tape


  • Write the number of each tube to correspond with the Animal Identification Sheet. For example, I wrote Brooke on Line 1 of the form, and wrote a 1 on the tube with her blood in it.   Or perhaps you choose to list your animals with a number as shown.

Labeling the Tubes

Labeling the Tubes

Whichever way you do it, be sure to keep your own records of whose sample is in which tube. We also sent milk in to be tested for mastitis and I forgot which tube had milk from which side of the udder. So I had to call the laboratory and ask — they were very nice but it was a little embarrassing that I didn’t keep better records.

  • FedEx may want to examine the way in which you have packaged your samples so do not fully seal the box.
  • It is not necessary to individually wrap the tubes.  WADDL recommends using padded pouches designed for shipping test tubes (which I could not locate online).  Otherwise they recommend that you bundle groups of 7-10 tubes with a large rubber band, alternating the direction of the tubes so that they nestle together tightly.  Wrap the tubes in bubble wrap, and place in a Ziploc bag.
  • Be sure to cushion the tubes very well in the box, WADDL recommends packing the box so that it will be safe if dropped from a height of four feet.
  • Use an ice pack if you are shipping in warm weather and if it will take several days to ship. If you ship overnight, your samples should be there in less than one day.
  • Go to WADDL’s website and get the assession form to include in the box with the Animal ID Sheet.


  • Write your return address on the box in the left hand top corner.
  • Address the box to WADDL: WSU-WADDL, 155N Bustad Hall, Pullman, WA 99164-7034
  • Include a check for payment in the correct amount. Refer to WADDL’s website for current prices.

At the time this post was written, WADDL did its CAE testing Thursday morning. We drew the blood on Friday morning and drove into town to have it shipped by FedEx only to find they don’t do overnight shipping on Friday, they do a Saturday shipping which costs twice as much. I called a friend who told me the samples should be okay if the FedEx place could refrigerate them over the weekend and ship on Monday morning. She said that when the lab receives samples before the testing day they just refrigerate the samples. So you want to plan your drawing of blood and shipping accordingly. It takes up to one week to get back your test results.

OUR TEST RESULTS: We are happy to report that Brooke tested negative for CAE. I understand that we should test again in six months and then test yearly thereafter.

Links to CAE articles:

WADDL CAE Information

Cornerstone Farm

Fiasco Farm

Blood Drawing Information Sites:

How to Draw Blood and Blood Test Your Goats

Drawing Blood is Child’s Play

If you would like to have the How to Draw Blood Instructions and Photo Tutorial together in one convenient PDF, please remember we now have it available for the low price of only $5.95.

U-Say Ranch Blood Drawing Tutorial

Click here to go to the Photo Tutorial on Drawing Blood.

Originally written October 2008; Updated November 21, 2010

Polioencephalomalacia – Our Experience

Goat Polio

Brooklyn, 18 month old dry yearling Nubian doe, exposed to buck 5 weeks prior. Estimated weight 6 days prior to onset of polio: 170# (tape measurement of chest was 39.25″)

Things we used for treatment:

  • 12cc syringe
  • Needles
  • Injectible B Complex
  • Bottle for forcing liquids
  • Thermometer
  • Fresh Ginger Root (for soothing stomach)
  • Baking Soda
  • Nutri-Drench
  • Probios

Here’s the super short version, I’ve documented the entire crisis and her progress over the next week below.

Our goat Brooklyn had been acting “sad” – moping around for a couple of days, but we had been replacing the fencing around the goat pen. This sometimes spooks the girls, so we just kept an eye on Brooklyn. Usually when we notice them acting depressed/sad/mopey we give them a dose of probios (acidophilus for cattle); we neglected to do that this time. I don’t know if that is why she got as sick as she did, but we will be more careful in the future to watch for them acting sad or depressed.

By 2pm, she had her first seizure. She was lying on her side with her four legs sticking straight out from her body. The seizure would cause her front legs to paw the air as if she were running, her back legs would stretch out until they were sticking straight behind her, parallel with her back.

We started treating her for Polioencephalomalacia [this is the correct spelling, btw] by 6pm with an injection of 1cc B complex. Later we were to discover that the dosage “in an emergency” i.e. you cannot get Thiamine (B1), was 12cc every 8 hours when using injectable B complex. Ideally your veterinarian would diagnose and prescribe Thiamine (B1) as goat polio is strictly a Thiamine (B1) deficiency. Within an hour she responded to the injection of B by lurching herself into an upright position, lying on her chest, with her front legs propped straight out in front to brace herself from falling over. Her neck was still stiff and drawn over to the left side. Prior to this, she was lying on her side, totally unaware of anything, enduring seizures about every five minutes. With the second injection of B complex (3cc, at this point we still didn’t know how much to give her) she managed to hoist herself into a standing position. She was blind, weak and managed to stand only a few minutes. We gave her a third injection of B complex (3cc) and this time she got to her feet and stayed on her feet for the next eleven hours. Please continue to read on if you would like to read detailed documentation of her illness and how we cared for her.

I work for an agency that provides services for adults who are blind and visually impaired, so I understand the difference between “blindness” and visual impairment. Most people assume a person with vision loss is “blind” and make the assumption that the person sees nothing but total blackness. The fact of the matter is that only 15% of the “blind” population is totally blind, seeing only blackness. At any rate, I couldn’t bring myself to say Brooke was blind when I could tell that she had impaired vision.

Click here for links to more information on Polioencephalomalacia/Thiamine Deficiency/PEM/Goat Polio.

DAY 1 Thursday, November 20, 2003

6:00am: Brooke isn’t up with the other goats, lying down alone by herself. This was the first thing that caused us to suspect something was awry.

9:00am: Brooke is listless and not at all feeling like herself. We have perused our two goat books and haven’t found much information, maybe she is aborting? She did get up and walk around, urinate and had normal goat berries. We gave her some Nutri-Drench in water, as she was acting lethargic.

2:00pm: We panic, assuming Brooke is dying and in her death throes — she has just had her first convulsion.

3:00pm: We now suspect bloat, and drench her with 1/2 cup of olive oil, and then tube her. We got out about 1-2 cups of yellowish-green liquid. She had been lying on her side convulsing every 5 minutes or so. She was totally out of it. Her neck was twisted upwards, and when she would have a convulsion her front legs would peddle fast, and her back legs would stretch way back until they were in line with her back.

We knew Brooke needed to get up off her side. We tried to make a sling to hold her upright, but it didn’t work out. She did urinate while in a semi-upright position.

Three factors kept us from calling a veterinarian. 1) We have not yet established ourselves with one, 2) We have heard nothing but complaints about veterinarians in our area — that they know little about goats 3) We couldn’t afford to take the chance of calling a vet when we could probably do just as well or better, on our own. Ideally, I would have 1) preferred to have had ourselves established with a knowledgeable veterinarian, so we could have called for advice and access to prescription medication 2) had the money to be able to afford the vet.

4:30pm: I stayed outside with Brooklyn for awhile longer, but then felt like I had to get indoors and start researching the Internet to see if I could find out what was wrong with her. Just a day earlier on one of the goat lists I’m on, someone had a doe down with Brooke’s symptoms. It was suggested that this other doe could have polio, listeriosis, tetanus, or poisoning. I decided that we would start treating with the “cure” for polio, which is injectible Vitamin B – three doses in a 24 hour period. It should be B1, but B1 (Thiamine) can only be obtained through your veterinarian with a prescription. We gambled by not giving Brooklyn antibiotics, because if she had listeriosis she would have gotten sicker. Another person on a list I’m on had a buckling with listeriosis at the same time. She told me that they too started out with only the injections of B1, but her buckling got worse.

5:00pm: We pick up injectible B from the local feed store, syringes and Red Cell (for selenium, as our area has a deficiency). This is the B I got:
Durvet Maxi-B 1000 Injection NDC 30798-324-10.
Contents 100ml. By the way, ml are equal to cc
Each ml contains:
12.5 mg Thimaine Hydrochloride (B1)
Niacinamide 12.5mg
Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (B6) 5.0mg
d-Panthenol 5.0mg
riboflavin B2 2.0mg
cyanocobalamin (b12) 1000mcg
benzyl alcohol as a preservative
Dosage per bottle: 1 to 2 ml per 500 pounds of body weight.

[When we went for the second bottle of vitamin B, we discovered that there was a less expensive kind that did not contain B12. The feed store owner told me that horse owners would go for the B12, as that is what horses need. So when I compared the bottles, and both had 12.5mg, I figured the less expensive B would work as well.]

6:00pm: Brooke has her first injection of B complex. We had never given a shot, we had no idea how much to give, so started out with 1cc [especially since the bottle said 1-2cc for 500 pounds of animal, this was instructions for cattle, though]. She’s still lying on her side, having spasms every 5 minutes or so, front legs peddling, back legs stretching way out parallel to her back.

6:30pm: We decided to bring Brooklyn into the house, because the temperatures were going down into the 40s, and so we could keep a close watch on her. We put her in our dining room. We brought in a piece of linoleum, then put a blanket over that.

We decide to carry her inside, no small feat, as she is a big doe. The last tape measurement estimate for weight was 170#. We found out that she actually needed a *lot* more of the injectible B, since it was primarily a deficiency in B1. The B complex I’d gotten only had 12.5mg of B1. But we were still leary of giving the shots, giving too much (knowing that B is water soluble didn’t seem to help much with the worry). Check Saanendoah for information on the correct dosage.

Once she got inside, after lying on her side for 15-20 minutes, she lurched herself up into an upright position onto her chest. Her front legs were propped straight out in front of her, with her back legs curled up near her body. This was a definite improvement, with only 1cc of B complex (12.5mg B1). Her neck was still stiff and arched to the side, but much less stiff. I put a beanbag chair under her head to help her hold it up since it kept slowly moving down, then she’d lurch it up again.

8:00pm: Brooke is bleating out every few minutes, (a painful sounding bellow sort of bleat) and acts as if she wants to get up. She has begun to grind her teeth, (this indicates stomach problems) she is keeping her head upright now with her eyes closed, she is obviously blind. Her pupils do not react to light. We’ve learned that she needs much more B (from 12cc to 64cc depending on who’s giving the recommendations). We gave her 3cc. At this time we didn’t know that the needle disconnected from the syringe, and were reluctant to poke her again right away, even though I knew she was going to need much more B. After the 3cc, she lugged herself onto her feet, but was very weak and swaying back and forth. She almost tipped over onto her head at one point, and soon laid down again (practically falling down). I also have given her a dose of probios. Her neck is no longer stiff at all.

10:00pm: We decided to give Brooke another 3cc of B. I was extremely confused about how much to give… 1) it should have been only B1 2) I was getting estimates of giving 12cc of B Complex — but only if it was “fortified” — all the way up to 64cc. The bottle I’d purchased only had 100cc, and was $8.25. Unfortunately, we don’t have a lot of money so I was panicked at the thought of having to give 64cc three times a day for days! I guess all the advice was confusing me more than helping. But at least we were seeing improvement, even though our doses were not the recommended. I gave Brooke another dose of probios. [Later I learned that it is only necessary to give probios 1X in a 24 hour period. I was giving it to her because I was afraid of her rumen shutting down, and hoped the probios would keep it going to some extent.]

I got advice to give “ginger mixed with 10 ccs warm water as an oral drench just in case it is poisoning as this works on the toxins”. I had fresh ginger root on hand and made a tea of it. [2 cups of water and 5-6 thin slices of ginger brought to a boil, and steeped for 15 minutes). We were forcing liquids — water with a bit of molasses and salt mixed in (for an electrolyte effect). We were using a mustard bottle, putting the nozzle into the side of her mouth, holding her head up and squeezing it into her mouth. It helped to hold a towel under her mouth to catch the drips.

After the 3cc, she again stood to her feet. She is still grinding her teeth, her sides are sunken way in.

DAY 2 Friday, November 21, 2003

7am: 6cc of B complex. I’ve been up with Brooklyn on and off, all night long. I couldn’t sleep but a few minutes at a time. Every time I get up to check on her, she’s moved to another spot. She seems to be staying on her feet and slowly walking. Normal goat berries this morning, but she hasn’t urinated since yesterday afternoon. Brooke’s vision is definitely compromised. She acts as if she is blind, but she does have light perception now. Her pupils react correctly to a beam of light.

8am: We thought Brooke might want to go out onto the porch, she seemed to be interested in the open doorway, but it is still too cold for her. She began shivering, so I made her come back inside.

9am: Brooke finally laid down once we brought her back inside. She was on her feet from 10pm last night. She felt cold to the touch (still had not located or been able to leave to buy a thermometer!) so I put a comforter blanket into the dryer and heated it up, then draped it over her. I gave her another dose of probios.

11:30am: Since she hadn’t urinated in such a long time, we realized that we needed to start forcing more fluids, so we got 2 cups of water with molasses and Nutri-drench into her with the squirt bottle. I’m extremely worried about her rumen shutting down, since she hasn’t eaten in such a long time. I’ve been offering her grass hay every hour or so, (she normally eats alfalfa) but she is not at all interested in it. I even offered her a baby carrot, which she usually loves, but no luck.

12:30pm: I remembered reading on a list about how if your goat’s rumen is shutting down, you can sometimes help by stealing a cud from another (healthy) goat and give it to your sick goat. So we went out to the goats… we’ve figured out how to get the goats to hawk up a cud. If you rub gently on their neck, from their chest to their throat, scratching and rubbing, they like that, and eventually get starry-eyed and hawk up a cud. Our youngest doe, Lightning, urped up a cud, and I tried to get it, but she swallowed it right away. I waited for a few minutes, then tried again. I got a chunk of her cud, about the size of a peach pit. Lightning was NOT happy about this. 😉 We went back inside, and I tried to put the cud into Brooke’s cheek… she didn’t like the “ABC” cud anymore than Lightning liked having it stolen from her. Brooklyn spit it out, but I put it back into her mouth on her tongue, and just held it in her mouth for a couple of minutes. Brooklyn had been lying down since 9am, but stood up while I was trying to give her the cud. She still hasn’t urinated.

2pm: More ginger tea with baking soda. (About 1/8 cup tea, 1/8 cup water, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda). We forced 2 more cups of water into her, with molasses and Nutri-drench. Finally, I realized that we need to get her most favorite foods to entice her to eat. There is one kind of tree on our property (we only have two of this certain type) and the goats really love them. So I went and cut a branch for her. She was interested! But she wasn’t chewing off the leaves and twigs herself, she was just licking and nibbling gently on the branch, so I took bite-sized pieces off for her. She finally ate! She ate about twenty little bunches. I then gave her more probios. She pooped again, normal berries.

2:15pm: She finally urinated! Quite a bit, at least two to three cups, dark yellow. I attributed the color and strength to not getting enough fluids, plus an excess of B vitamins always color the urine bright yellow. We caught much of it in a bowl we had for just that purpose. Now the next improvement we’re looking for is to see her chew her cud. She is also nibbling on grass hay, and finally drank water on her own.

3pm: 6cc B complex

3:15pm: We decided Brooke would benefit from some sunshine, and guided her out onto the porch. We thought it might also be beneficial for her to have a visit from her herdmates, so we brought our other two does up onto the porch for visitation. 🙂

8:00pm: Brooke is lying down in the hallway, we observed her hawk up a cud and chew it, three times. This is very good! She is still visually impaired.

11pm: 12cc B complex. Earlier today I finally bought a syringe that holds more than 3cc! So I was able to give her the full 12cc’s that was recommended on the Saanendoah site.

DAY 3 Saturday, November 22, 2003

7am: 12 cc B complex. Brooke is still not drinking on her own, or eating without our enticing her with her favorite foods. So we’re pushing fluids orally, and giving her favorite tree leaves. We also gave her some chapparel twigs, she ate just a couple of those, her favorite tree, and sunflower seeds. We will continue to force fluids today every couple hours.

3pm: 12 cc B complex. We discover that Brooke loves sunflower shells (yes, the shells — the seeds have already been removed). I took Brooke’s chest measurement, it’s now only 36″? That indicates weight loss of FORTY pounds?!

5pm: We decided since Brooke is walking around the house at a pretty steady pace, and bleating questioningly — as if she was looking for her herdmates — that we should take her outside to see how she would do in her own environment. Taking her out to her own home seemed to do Brooke a world of good. Her appetite perked up immediately, and she began hogging down alfalfa like she usually does.

Since Brooke seemed to be responding so well to her own home, we decided to set her up in a private stall in the barn and see how she would do for the night. It is not possible to leave her with her herdmates at this point, as she cannot see if they try to headbutt her. I’m really torn between having Brooke in the house one more night, since it is supposed to get down to below freezing tonight, and letting her stay in the barn. I put her sweatshirt back on.

Brooklyn in her sweatshirt, Day 3

8:30pm: 8cc B complex. We are all so exhausted and it’s so cold out, I don’t know if we can get out to the barn at 11pm, so we decided to give her a reduced amount of B, at an earlier time. When we got into the barn, she was lying down, and seemed comfortable. She isn’t shivering, and it’s quite a bit warmer in the sheltered part of the barn that she is in, in comparison to outside the barn, where the other goats prefer to spend the night — even with the wind blowing at 20mph!

DAY 4 Sunday, November 23, 2003

7am: 12cc B complex. Brooke did very well last night. She is up and talking, but still blind/visually impaired. This private stall opens out into a private yard. We let Brooke out into this small yard so she could get some sunshine. She is eating okay, but it still doesn’t seem she is drinking, or maybe just not very much. So I’m continuing to force liquids into her.

3pm: 6cc B complex. We’re running out of vitamin B. I didn’t realize it until the feed stores were all closed today. I cut her dosage to 6cc, and this hopefully will leave enough for the next 2 doses. I work tomorrow, so I won’t be home to get more until around 5pm. Brooke is eating her hay voraciously. It doesn’t seem she is drinking water, so I’m still pushing fluids, a cup or so at a time. But she is urinating and defecating, so she must be getting enough fluids. She is really disliking my forcing her to drink. She’s beginning to fight me. She still appears to have vision loss. I think she can see blurry shapes, but of course there is no way for me to determine that.

Brooke had one more injection of B, 6cc in the evening. We pushed/pulled her into the barn for the night.

DAY 5 Monday, November 24, 2003

We decided to give Brooke 2 daily shots of B, 12cc at each time, starting today. She’s much better. We still forced some fluids, but she is eating alfalfa voraciously. We attempted to put her in the barn tonight, but she fought mightily. After we finally got her in the barn, she pushed her way back out in the yard. I guess Brooke wants to sleep out under the stars tonight.

DAY 6 Tuesday, November 25, 2003

Two injections of B complex today. Brooklyn is eating and drinking on her own. We took off her sweatshirt today, and let her spend time with her herdmates. The youngest doe, who was number three, is trying to move up into Brooke’s position – #2. Brooke is having none of it, and even though she is still not seeing very well, she is trying to shove the youngest doe. Brooke is moving around her private yard much quicker, so it seems her vision has improved. But at dusk, she is still bumping into the chain link fence, so her vision isn’t back completely. We’re still hoping that she’ll recover fully. Some research I’ve found says that it can take up to a week for full recovery, so we really hope to see her vision return.

DAY 7 Wednesday, November 26, 2003
Brooke is doing much better today. We can tell that she is still experiencing some vision loss, but it is obvious that her vision is returning. She is feeling well enough, and can see enough to re-establish her position on the totem pole with the younger doe. After spending a few hours with them together, we decided she would be okay to stay with her herd. She’s doing very well.

DAY 8 Thursday, November 27, 2003
I observed Brooke eating and drinking normally today. All of the goats are gingerly lapping up water… I guess it’s too cold to take big slurps of water like they usually do. As she is still experiencing some vision loss, we are still giving the B complex injections. The information I’ve gotten online says to continue until the symptoms disappear.

DAY 9 Friday, November 28, 2003
We are cutting Brooklyn’s dose down to 6cc twice a day. She is moving quickly around the goat yard, but it is hard to tell if she has her vision back totally. She is in with her herd, eating and drinking well. I think we’ll give her B complex for a few more doses, and continue watching to see if she looks like she has her sight back completely. I observed her today walk up one step, across a platform, and then when she got to the down step, she seemed to be just slightly off, as if she hadn’t seen the drop off.
DAY 26 December 15th, 2003
Brooklyn began aborting today. I had wondered if her ordeal would affect her pregnancy, and possibly it did. She aborted at 8 weeks.


February 14th, 2004
To look at Brooke today, you would *never* imagine she’d been blind, and on death’s door. I am so grateful we were able to bring her back to health. We had her bred again and her new due date is June 21, 2004.

More information on Polioencephalomalacia/Thiamine Deficiency/PEM/Goat Polio

[HDG911] Polio from Animal Disease Diagnostic Lab
Polioencephalomalacia Reprint The Goat Magazine June/July 2000
Goat Connection
On-line Medical Dictionary
Metabolic and Nutritional Diseases of Goats – Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food
Onion Creek Ranch Tennessee Meat Goats – Goat Polio or Listeriosis?
Diagnosing and Treating Listeriosis

Brooke’s 2nd Kidding – 2006

DOB: 5/2/02
Age: 3 years, 11 months
2nd Freshening: Gestation 152 days; triplet doelings
Previous Freshenings:
1st Freshening 135 days gestation; 2 bucklings, 1 doeling all stillborn; headbutting to side brought on premature labor

Milk Fever by Fias Co Farm

Milk Fever Strikes

More Feedback on Hypocalcemia by Muriel Sluyter Good article showing what signs to look for; however, doesn’t indicate which kind of calcium gluconate.

You might not want to read this story as unfortunately we lost Brooke to milk fever 26 hours after she kidded. I debated chronicling her kidding story because of the tragic outcome, but one of the reasons I tell the story of our kiddings is the hope that someone else can learn from our experiences, either good or bad.

Things I learned from this kidding:

  1. Reminder to pay attention to my instincts
  2. Recognize slow labor as being calcium deficiency which can lead to hypocalcemia aka milk fever
  3. Does that produce more than twins are more prone to hypocalcemia
  4. Always make sure the doe is eating her hay after kidding or suspect there is a problem
  5. Heavy producers are also prone to hypocalcemia
  6. Always have CMPK or calcium gluconate ON HAND before kidding
  7. Our first experience with a weak kid at birth

My family reported to me by phone around 3:30pm that Brooke had been acting like she was in labor since about 1pm. She was nesting, was walking around slowly, hunching, her sides were hollow.

I arrived home around 5pm and she looked to me like she should kid within a couple of hours, certainly by midnight.

She kept hunching and arching her back. With Dallas’ 2005 kidding, one of my goat mentors told me she only waits for three of those hunches/arches/stretches and checks to see what is going on inside. But I couldn’t remember if that was BEFORE she saw the doe actually pushing, or AFTER. I’m really reluctant to “go in” if I don’t have to, I’d rather not. Actually, for some reason I was having something akin to paranoia about having to “go in” and was really stressing out about it. I called another goat person around 8pm and she agreed with my dh that Brooke was probably still in early labor, since she didn’t have any mucous discharge. I had been debating just doing a finger check, to make sure no kids were blocking the birth canal. But I decided to go ahead and just let her labor. I went to bed and was up at 10pm to check on her. She had a bit of mucous discharge at this time, and she was still hunching/arching.

I went back to bed, and my dh woke me up at 2pm, told me he thought she might go soon. So we went out and sat with her for a while. She was still doing the same thing, no big pushes. I was nauseated because I was tired, stressed and really scared that this birth was going to be a repeat of Brooke’s first kidding. I finally worked up my nerve and told my dh that I thought I should at least do a finger check around 2:45am. I cleaned Brooke’s bottom carefully using this method, and cleaned my hand. With just two fingers, I couldn’t feel anything inside, no baby heads or bodies. I was preparing myself to go ahead and put my entire hand in to make sure she didn’t have any tangles going on in there.

Doeling #1: I guess the stimulation helped Brooke’s pushing urge to get started because within 15 minutes she had pushed out her first baby. Doeling #1 came out head first with one leg under her neck. Her little tongue was sticking out and it would wiggle every time. Brooke pushed and pushed, the baby moved out and back in, out and back in. I finally helped by pushing the perineum up every so gently each time until it was over the baby’s forehead. Soon the entire baby slipped out. I wiped her face and gave her to Brooke. Brooke was so happy about her baby, licking her and nanny-talking to her. Doeling #1 had frosted white ears.

Doeling #2: Soon Brooke had another pushing urge and a bubble came out with the baby’s head and feet. This second baby was born in the sack of waters, completely intact. I tore the membranes with my fingernails and started wiping the baby’s face. This baby was limp and I was afraid she was dead when she was born. But I started rubbing her whole body roughly with paper towels and soon she lurched up her head and coughed. I moved Doeling #2 away from Brooke’s focus and put Doeling #2 right in front of her and she began licking her thoroughly. Doeling #2 had one spotted ear and one brown ear.

Doeling #3: Very shortly after Doeling #2 was born, Doeling #3 was born, and she came out hind feet first. She was so alert, as soon as she was born she tried to stand up. Doeling #3 had two brown ears.

Everything seemed to be okay. I milked Brooke (didn’t strip her out) and got over 2 cups of colostrum. I poured 2 cups into a pop bottle so I could bottle feed her kids. I like to get them to take a bottle in case we have to bottle feed them for whatever reason. Also, since Brooke had triplets, I wasn’t sure how she was going to do at nursing all three of them.

We gave Brooke some warm water with molasses, which she sucked down and she also had some of her colostrum. She wasn’t interested in the rolled barley we brought her. Usually our does gobble grain (especially Brooke!! she loved grain more than any of our goats) when they are being milked.

So the first indication of a problem was the labor failing to progress. But I kept telling myself that Lightning had a slow labor last year and she was just fine. And maybe I was just making too much of a fuss out of this. (Doubting my instincts!) In hindsight, I now know that labor failing to progress is a concern. On a goats list that I’m on, one of the members says she gives one ounce of calcium to her does at the beginning of their labor and another ounce if they fail to progress. Before we started kidding season, I read Ellie Winslow’s book where it talks about hypocalcemia and the protocol of administering CMPK and I meant to have it on hand before kidding, but I forgot to order it!!

The second indication of a problem was Brooke’s disinterest in eating. Not eating grain is fine, but definitely indicates her body trying to balance the calcium “By the way, once her calcium level has been regulated and she resumes eating, she may initially refuse any grain that is offered. That should not cause you concern because her instinct is still trying to regulate her calcium-deficient condition. She is the best monitor of that.” from Ellie Winslow’s Making Money With Goats.

Also, I did not catch that Brooke was not eating her hay. Third indication. She was very disturbed at the thought of her kids nursing. So I was continuing to bottle feed them, and twice I tied her so I could hold her still and coax her to let her kids nurse.

She was licking them but was not interested in them nursing. Possibly a fourth indication. But Brooke had spent her entire life fending off kids that were trying to nurse and she’d never had her own. So I figured she was just antsy about that, and hadn’t quite gotten the idea that her babies should be allowed to nurse.

I brought her a flake of hay of her own, but the other goats ended up eating through it. I guess I thought she was eating some.

One of my goat friends has been wanting a spotted baby from us, so I offered one of the triplets to her. The baby with the most spots was [of course] the one that was so limp at birth. Doeling #2 had continued to be very tired after she was born. She would get moving if I rubbed her, but otherwise she was just lying around very weak. I put a baby goat sweater on her after she was born, and gave her two squirts of Nutri-Drench to get her started. I finally ended up bringing her inside because she was not warming up and moving around very good. Once I brought her into the house, she perked up pretty good, but continued to be tired. Here is a picture of the second baby.

I went ahead and took the baby girl over to my friend’s house, so that Brooke would only have to deal with two babies. My friend prefers to bottle feed her kids, so I thought it would benefit us all to place the doeling sooner than later. I also figured this little girl would need a bit more TLC, and my friend would provide that.

By around 4pm, I started realizing that she was not acting at all herself, acting depressed and still grinding her teeth (an indication of pain). Her udder felt sloshy, like it was swollen with water. It didn’t feel like congested udder usually does (hard and tight). I had milked her two more times that day, and was barely getting 1 cup each time, with stripping her out completely. I actually insisted that she come to the milking stand one time, having to pull her most of the way. More normal behavior for Brooke — we often dragged her to the milking stand — so I didn’t see this as being too unusual. I could tell she was weak when she got up on the stand, because her back legs almost collapsed (fifth indication) as she hoisted herself up. She refused grain at that time and was not interested in her own milk either. I asked my dh when he got home from work if he would help me with her. I could do it myself, but it is easier with help. As it turns out, she didn’t fight me on anything I did.

Around 5:30pm I submitted an inquiry post to a goat list I’m on [Holistic-Goats] asking for advice, detailing my plans of what I was going to treat her with.

I went out after that with my dh, we gave her a shot of Vitamin B complex, 8 cc’s. I gave her 50cc’s of Nutri-drench. We went back in and ate supper, then came back out and I gave her a dosage of Safeguard wormer, and some ProBios.

By 7:30pm, I thought her symptoms sounded like milk fever. I took her temperature at 8pm, it was 103.1°F. Sub-normal temps are part of milk fever. Normal goat temperature is 101°F to 104°F. So she was well within the normal range, certainly nowhere near being sub-normal.

Treatment for hypocalcemia/milk fever is calcium. I had Calcium Gluconate, one 10ml vial that said to only use with slow intravenous drip.

I called a local goat friend and she said to give her a shot of BOSE, give her the Calcium Gluconate orally. She said to give her some Banamine if I had it on hand (for pain, we don’t have it on hand), and she said I should call our friend that lives close to me for calcium.

When I couldn’t get hold of the friend who lives close by, and I was still afraid to use the Calcium Gluconate orally because of the warning on the bottle, so I decided to go ahead with my first plan which was to give Brooke a drench consisting of Vitamin E, Vitamin A and Vitamin D (this via cod liver oil), and Calcium & Magnesium (this via crushed calcium pills). said she needed calcium, magnesium and A, D and E. It just didn’t say how much. I also don’t recall mention of potassium.

I got that into her I would say at 10pm. I was by then so exhausted and worn out, I just had to get to bed. I intended to check on her at midnight, but neglected to set my alarm. I slept like a log until 4am. I actually wasn’t too concerned as one of my books said something like (paraphrased) “Bear in mind if you find a doe in this condition she has likely been down for three days, so time is of the essence.” So I thought I had more time! And I had given her calcium. I just didn’t know that I should have given her CMPK (a balance of minerals) every TWO HOURS. If only I had known!

I went outside and she was lying on the barn porch, nosing her leg and the ground where she was laying, bobbing her head kind of funny, like an old senile lady fondling her pearl necklace. I thought at first she was looking for hay, so I threw flakes to the other does and brought one to her. I tore open the flake and got out some of the tender parts and offered them to her. I thought she tried to eat it. I got her to stand up. Her babies were crying and starving hungry, so I went back in to get them a bottle. When I came back out, she was hanging her head and frothing and foaming at the mouth. I forgot about feeding the babies their bottle, and went back in to get the Calcium Gluconate. I’d decided I had better give it to her. So I got that out of the vial and into some water and got it into the drench gun. I drenched her with that, she swallowed it. I then got 50cc’s of Nutri-drench into her, and 1 cup of warm water. She was drooling and dripping the water out of her mouth.

I took her temperature and she was at 98 something. I think 98.8°F. Oh God. Sub-normal temperature. She was trembling and shaky and out of it. I went back into the house to wake up my husband and then I went back out and fed the babies. They were milling around their dam, she was drooling foam on them.

I went back in, and felt so weak, like my blood had been drained from my body. I wasn’t sure if I had what it took to go out and check on her again. So I asked my husband to come with me for moral support. I wanted to check her temperature to see if the Nutri-drench or Calcium Gluconate had helped her at all. I put a blanket in the dryer to put on her and try to warm her up.

She was lying down, half on and half off the barn porch, clearly in trouble. We moved her off the porch onto the ground and she started flipping around like a fish out of water, moaning and lurching about. In desperation we decided to try giving her the lactated ringers we had on hand, in case she was dehydrated. We started the IV subcutaneously, and I covered her with the warm blanket. There was a nail on the porch just out of the reach of the tube for the IV, so I went looking for something to hang it so my dh wouldn’t have to stand there holding it. While I was gone, he called out to me and told me he thought she just died. I ran back and kneeled in front of her, and laid my head on her chest. Nothing. She was gone. I had already been crying and this brought about a new round of tears and I apologized to her, that I could not save her. We have never lost a goat. We’ve always been able to save them.

After she passed, we went and got a blanket to put her on, so we could pull her out of the goat yard. She has always been a big doe, and weighed around 200# usually. We then went out and dug her grave.

Brooke was our favorite. She was sweet and had the weirdest quirks about her. She will be missed. I thought it would be neat to give her a legacy in her daughters, so we are naming her girls:

Doeling #1: U-Say Ranch Brooklyn TwoPointO
Doeling #2: U-Say Ranch Brooklyn’s Hailey (my friend has this doeling and named her Hailey and was happy to have Brooklyn’s name on the registration)
Doeling #3: U-Say Ranch Brooklyn’s Mocha

Doeling #1 looks like Brooke in the face, she has the stripes that Brooke had. She is tan and blonde, where Brooke was black and tan. Here are some pictures of Brooke and TwoPointO (later known as Brooke II).

Brooke, we loved you. Thank you for entertainment and laughs that you provided. No more of those nasty hoof trims that you hated so much. Lots of delicious hay and plenty of all your favorite treats. You left three baby girls to carry on your name. May you rest in peace, honey.

Brooklyn’s 1st Kids 2004

DOB: 5/2/02
Age: 2 years, 4 months
First Freshener

June 14. Eight days ago, Brooklyn became a first freshener.

Unfortunately, Brooklyn sustained a headbutt to the stomach on day 135 which threw her body into labor — she was carrying triplets, two black bucklings and one black doeling. Our Nigerian Dwarf buck, Pepper was the sire. I will relate her kidding story for informational purposes.

I definitely learned from this unfortunate event. I learned to trust my instincts, to keep the birthing kit [I use this list from Fiasco Farm] ready at all times, and to keep all my notes on kidding with the kidding kit. There is an excellent page here that describes Problems with Delivery which I did not have on hand at this birth. I also like to have all the goat books with me, bookmarked to the kidding pages. In the future I plan to create a birthing booklet for my own use, which will contain printouts from all sites that I have found handy for kidding instructions, copies of the pages of the books, plus I will include my own birth experiences as detailed on this site.

Here is a page with links I’ve collected.

We went out to milk around 5:30am, and found Brooklyn with clear, sticky mucous stuck to her backside. It was obvious that she had built a nest for herself in the barn, in the hay near the manger. There were puddles of clear mucous in several places throughout the yard, including on the barn porch. I put my finger into the large wet puddle on the porch and brought it to my nose to see if there was an odor, as I suspected amniotic fluid but wanted to outrule urine. It had no odor, so I knew it was not urine, but birthing fluids. At this point, I had not recalled the headbutting the day before, because I had only seen it out of the corner of my eye and hadn’t thought much of it.

With hindsight, I would have cleaned her backside immediately, cleaned my hand and checked to see what was going on. This was only the second kidding I have attended, but I am attuned to the birthing process because I am my family’s doula and have attended 7 homebirths and one hospital birth for my sisters. Next time I will know to trust my instincts and when it seems that the doe is moving out a lot of fluid, it’s probably because she’s been pushing already and has a kid blocking the way.

There is also no way to know if the kids died soon after the headbutting incident, as a goat herder friend of mine told me what happens is the kids are separated from their placentas and die soon after. This is probably what happened, but it could be that the kids were still alive at 5:30am and I could have gotten them out had I only checked.

Okay, so remember I haven’t yet remembered the headbutting event, and just assumed she was in early labor. When I attended Lightning’s birth she labored from early in the morning until she began her first push in early afternoon, so it seemed Brooklyn was progressing in the same way. I stayed with her constantly once I got the kidding kit together and got out there. It was the hottest day of the year so far, I believe it reached 110°F that day. Not fun.

She kept standing up and arching her back, like she was trying to position the kids. I now know that this often means there is a problem. My goat mentor tells me she allows the doe three times of that back arching, then she goes in and checks to see what is going on. I sure wish I’d known that earlier, for again, we may have been able to save the kids, or maybe not.

She would then lie down and stretch out her legs. These movements all appeared to be stretches, not actual pushes. Finally around 12:30pm she pushed, this was different from the stretches. At this point, I was still thinking we had live kids in there, early labor had finally turned to active labor. She pushed rather half-heartedly every couple of minutes and after 25 minutes I couldn’t stand waiting any longer to see what was going on, plus an ear was trying to be born! Yes, an ear was protuding from the birth canal. I washed my hand carefully and inserted a finger. I was unsure what I was feeling, but it seemed very much like the top of a kid’s head where the hornbuds are. This is a problem position, so I washed my hand again, applied olive oil and got my hand inside. The kid’s head was down, it was extremely hard to find the front legs, I could only find one front leg. I recalled reading that although muzzle and one leg is a hard position to deliver, it can be done, and so I began pulling this first kid. I was afraid I killed him helping him to be born because his neck cracked as I pulled on his head. There was no time to start fretting and wringing my hands though, so I put him aside and covered him with a piece of newspaper.

I let Brooklyn rest, and gave her some warm water with molasses after we got this one kid out. Finally after about 20 minutes she began pushing again, very weak pushes. She managed to get a big bubble to protude, then she just laid there not doing much at all. I waited another 15-20 minutes (need to get a watch or a clock in the barn!) then decided to check again. This time I found a kid trying to come out muzzle first, no feet. It was difficult again to find the front legs to go with this kid, but I finally got him into position and got him out, he was stillborn. At this point I decided that I was not willing to wait any longer to see if any more kids were inside, and put my arm in again and this time pulled out a stillborn doeling. I put my arm in one more time and felt around, to make sure there were no more kids. I could only feel mushy softness, and withdrew my hand.

We moved the kids away from us and the doe. Now I concentrated my concern on Brooklyn, who was planted solidly on the ground and not showing any signs of getting up. I was worried that she was too weak. She is a big doe, very heavy and it was going to take some effort on her part to get her onto her feet. I felt it was very important that she get onto her feet soon. We offered her some water with molasses again, which she drank some.

I had heard that old timer goat herders will give a doe who has had a rough birth her own milk. I milked her as she laid there, getting about a cup of colostrum. I squirted 3 squirts of Nutri-Drench in the colostrum, stirred it up and offered it to her. She sucked it down like it was the best thing she’d ever had. I told her she had 10 minutes to get onto her feet, or I was going to get her up myself. Ten minutes went by and I pulled forward on her collar so that she had no choice but to get her feet under herself and up she came. The whole time she’s “nanny talking”, looking around for her kids.

I had to keep reminding myself that we pull the kids for CAE prevention and she wouldn’t have had them anyway, but it was still sad to hear.

As she had had such weak urges to push during labor, I next began to worry about the afterbirth being expelled. I called some goat herder friends, and one told me that we had a four hour window, and if she hadn’t passed the placenta by 5:30pm that I’d better call a vet. (I’ve since learned that some feel comfortable waiting as long as 12 hours).

I called a friend who lives nearby and raises goat to see if she had a favorite vet that she would call on a Sunday afternoon. She was not home, but her granddaughter answered the phone and told me that she and her grandmother use Lutalyze on their does when they do not expel the placenta.

In the meantime we began doing some things to help the doe to expel her placenta. We took her on a walk around our property (oh my goodness, that was horrible it was so hot I think this is when I began getting heat exhaustion). We tried vulva massages, basically you clean your hand, insert two fingers inside and massage inside the doe to get her to push which should help her to expel the placenta. I milked her massaged her udder and teats. This was very effective with our doe, Lightning. The act of milking her, and rubbing on her udder and teats caused her to have contractions and expel her placenta. At this point I still hadn’t quite come to the realization that Brooklyn’s birth was unusual, the births premature, and that her body wasn’t really cooperating too well. We tried having her stand with her front legs higher than her back legs, so that gravity could help her expel the afterbirth.

None of these were working, so I decided to try the Lutalyze. Drove to the friend’s house, beginning to get a headache by now from the heat and dehydration as I had not been drinking properly. (I’m usually very good at managing the heat, but this was an unexpected “heat wave” and I’d forgotten one of my main ways to counter the heat was to soak my clothes, and I had just been too busy to drink water.) I was told to administer the Lutalyze SQ, (subcutaneously) but just now trying to find the correct spelling on the ‘net I see that it should be administered IM. Perhaps this is why it did nothing for her.

I began calling veterinarians. Finally one returned my call and as my luck would have it, my cell phone was not cooperating and I’m sitting there, holding it, waiting anxiously for a call back, and it goes, “Beep, boop-beep,” which means someone has called, the reception was poor, so the phone didn’t ring, but they left me a message.

I listened to the message. The vet told me the doe should NOT have had Lutalyze, she needed oxytocin! He told me he no longer comes out to this area, and that I would have to find the oxytocin from a vet supply. I could tell he realized as he said that, that it was Sunday afternoon, and he then said that I could try asking some of the dairies out in this area if they could supply me with some oxytocin. He told me she should have “20 units, not 20cc’s but 20 units.”

I began calling dairies and finally located one about 25 miles away that answered the phone and was willing to supply us with oxytocin. I called the veterinarian again to find out how much 20 units was, and at this time he told me to give the doe 1cc of oxytocin and if she had not expelled the placenta within 30 minutes that we should give her another 1cc.

Finally we arrived back home and gave her 1cc oxytocin at 8:20pm. She didn’t seem to respond to the injection. 30 minutes went by, no reaction. We gave her the second dose and waited until 9:30pm. By this time, I was nauseated, I had a splitting headache, I couldn’t stand to be up another moment. I asked God to keep His hand on her and watch over her.

Tonight while researching the ‘net I found that the recommended dosage is 1.5cc oxytocin per 100 pounds. This doe weighed 200 pounds the day after giving birth, so we did not give her enough oxytocin.

Later I researched and found on the ‘net that it is okay to wait up to twelve hours for the doe to expel the placenta. I was reluctant to leave her and go into the house and go to bed, because then I would not know if she expelled everything.

The next morning I was reluctant to go out to milk, and had to take an antacid for my nausea. I was terrified that we’d find the worst, (that she would be dead) who knows what the side effects of the medications we’d given her could be. Finally I worked up my nerve and went out, to find that she was okay, and the cords were no longer hanging from her vulva. I did find the cords that were hanging, in the barn, they were dried up but wet and messy at one end, indicating that she more than likely ate the afterbirth, as is normal (usually we do not allow our does to eat the afterbirth). Still, it was frightening not knowing if she’d expelled everything, or if she still had clumps of afterbirth left inside her.

As a precaution we decided at the advice of my goat mentor to begin her on antibiotics. We gave her 3cc Bio-Mycin 200 once every 24 hours for five days. I also took her temperature day and night to be sure it remained steady. She had quite a high temperature, ranging from 103.6°F to 104.2°F but according to my goat books a healthy goat’s temperature can be from 101.5°F to 105°F so I guess we’re well within this range. I also learned that thermometers which contain mercury are difficult to use when the temperature outdoors is over 100°F! I thought the thermometer was broken, because it would not shake down. I finally drove to a feedstore and bought a new thermometer only to find this one was “broken” as well. As it turns out, when the temperature is hot, the only way to use the thermometer is to shake it down indoors where it is cool. Then immerse the thermometer in cool water until ready to be used. Once you take it out of the cool water, immediately insert it into the goat to take the temperature (takes 3 minutes).

We also gave her probios, vitamin C and snacks to get her appetite going again.

All of the does seemed affected by this kidding, our milker’s yield dropped in half and she refused to eat her grain for no apparent reason, except for the stress of the kidding. Finally today, 8 days later, all of the does seem to have their appetite’s back. We are milking Brooklyn daily, and her yield is up to over 7 pounds each day. She is two years old and a first freshener. Up to today, I had been milking her sitting on the barn floor because her hooves were in bad shape due to not trimming them for the last 6 weeks of her pregnancy. But I worked on her hooves this morning with cutters and a rasp, trying to get them back into shape so she would feel comfortable on the milking stand.

It is such a pleasure to milk a doe that stands still on the milking stand. I will be happy when Brooklyn learns this important part of her life. Currently we are having to lift her, and she is uncomfortable on the milking stand and leans heavily against me as I milk her. Lightning did this at first, but she weighs much less than Brooklyn, and it is quite a strain on my body to push against her as she is leaning against me. Luckily, Brooklyn’s teats are nice and long, and I can actually use all four fingers to milk her, although it is such a habit to use only three for Lightning that I am having to learn a whole new way to milk.

We will not be able to use the milk for human consumption for 12 to 18 days after the antibiotics are finished, so in the meantime the dogs, cats and chickens are getting a lot of milk to drink. Also, I am going to try making soap with some of this milk. If the kids had survived, they would have been getting the milk for quite some time, and we usually don’t drink the milk for the first 2-3 weeks anyway as it doesn’t taste good yet. Her milk is very creamy and white though, can’t wait to try it.