Knowing how to drench a goat is essential, regardless of how many or what type of goats you have. Drenching is something that must be done to administer vital medications such as antibiotics, dewormers, and more. Without knowing the proper technique, it can be challenging to keep your herd healthy.
What You'll Learn Today
Why Do You Drench a Goat?
Before we dive into how exactly you should drench a goat, let’s talk about what it actually means to do so first – and why you should add it to your farm to-do list.
Drenching is a method used to administer medication by mouth. It can be used to give any kind of medicine but is normally done to treat animals for worms.
Why not just pour the medication into the water supply or feed? It’s simple – doing this is a good way to accidentally overdose or underdose your animals since one will inevitably consume more than the next.
Drenching will let you give each animal a more precise dose. Although it sounds complicated, it’s actually quite easy to do.
How to Drench a Goat: Step by Step
Drenching is one of those farm chores that gets easier each time you do it. Here are some tips to help you get it right!
1. Purchase the Drench
It’s a good idea to consult with a veterinarian before you give your goat any kind of medication, including dewormer.
There are two main types of drench medication you can buy – broad spectrum and narrow spectrum. A broad-spectrum dewormer is a good idea if you aren’t exactly sure what type of parasite is targeting your goats while a narrow-spectrum can be used to attack specific types of parasites.
Some of the most common goat dewormers include:
It’s a good idea to switch up the type of dewormer you use regularly. This can help prevent parasite resistance. Always check a label to make sure it’s safe for goats, too.
Making A Homemade Drench For Goats
Instead of purchasing a chemical dewormer, you might be wondering if you can make a DIY, homemade version instead. You can – but it might not always be as effective as a formulated product.
The most effective homemade drenches for goats are those that work to actively replace electrolytes and nutrients a goat may have lost due to a heavy parasite load (rather than just attempting to kill the parasites). You can give your goats an oral drench of things like liquid B12, molasses, and raw honey.
Natural dewormers you can try on your goat include garlic and apple cider vinegar – but remember, these may not be as effective at getting rid of heavy parasite loads.
In any event, all of these products can be administered in a drench gun just as you normally would but you may need to add water or puree in a blender first.
2. Prepare the Doses
The medicine will be more effective if you have an accurate weight for each goat. You can use a commercial livestock scale but if that’s not possible, do your best to get an estimate or an average for each animal.
You’ll then have to calculate a dose for each goat. Read the label on the container to figure out how much is recommended and be as precise as possible. Using too much can poison a goat while too little will not be effective.
Some drench medications may need to be mixed (as they are powders) while others come in a liquid form.
Next, you need to load the drench gun. Make sure it’s calibrated to the proper dosage, then pull a dose into the central chamber of the gun.
3. Restrain the Goat
Next, you need to restrain your animal. If your goat is small, easily managed, and calm, you can simply approach it from behind and straddle it with your legs around its neck. This will prevent it from turning its head and let you see clearly into its mouth.
If you are dealing with a less than cooperative animal, you may need to recruit a second person to help you hold the goat or use a handling system like a chute.
If you’re going to just administer the dose in a barn, try to get in an area where it will be more difficult for the goat to get away from you, such as backed into a corner.
4. Drench the Goat
Lift the head of the goat by an inch or two, tipping it backward. This makes it easier for the goat to swallow the medicine (and will reduce the amount that is wasted).
Gently press the drench gun into the mouth of the goat. It should be in the corner of the mouth with the nozzle resting over the tongue and pointed back toward the throat. Whatever You do, don’t try to insert the nozzle through the front teeth.
Squeeze the trigger on your drench gun. Do this slowly so that the entire drench medicine makes its way into your goat’s mouth. You may have to press a few times to get the entire dose inside.
Be careful about pushing the nozzle too deep into your goat’s mouth as this can break teeth, cause lung problems, and even create abrasions in the mouth.
If your goat starts to struggle or gag as you’re delivering the dose, let it go so that it doesn’t aspirate.
After your goat has swallowed the drench, you can let it go. Just make sure you hold your goat steady until you’re positive it has received the full dose.
If your goat doesn’t swallow the whole dose – or spits some out – you will need to check the product label to see if you can administer another partial dose.
Depending on the age, size, and health of your goats, you may need to rely on alternative techniques to get the job done. Here is a quick video that will give you more information on how to drench a baby goat (kid):
5. Clean Up
After you’re finished administering medication, clean the drench gun with warm water. Don’t use soap. Store the dewormer in a safe location (around 40 to 75 degrees).
If you have a serious parasite problem in your herd, it’s a good idea to get your goats in a fresh location. Try to rotate your pastures so that the goats are grazing an area that they haven’t been on in a month or so. This can reduce the risk of recontamination and parasite resistance.
When you want to be positive that your parasite problem has cleared up, you can test your goat’s manure about 10 days after treatment. It should take about this long for the medicine to take full effect.
If you still have a heavy parasite load, you may want to repeat the treatment process.
How Often Do You Drench a Goat?
How often you should drench a goat will depend on what kind of medication you are administering as well as what you are treating for. Most goats (and most parasites) require drenching every eight weeks or so.
However, if you have a recurring problem, you may find that you need to do more regular drenching.
It’s a good idea to consult a veterinarian to get an idea of how often and how intensively you need to drench your animals. Some goat farmers rely on the FAMACHA sheep and goat scoring system, which utilizes the eye color of animals to indicate whether it is suffering from anemia (a sign of heavy parasite loads).
By using such a scoring system, you can drench your goats only when they need it most – reducing the likelihood of overdosing them.
Frequently Asked Questions
When you add substances to any animals’ food and water, you run the risk of wasting medicines and supplements and not delivering the right dosage. The goat may spill the feed and water. Other animals may end up eating the feed and/or drinking the water. When you drench (deliver medicines and supplements by drench gun) you give the right goat the right amount of the desired substance.
If you just guess at the amount needed and give too much, you end up squandering product and money. Underestimating dosage is another way to waste product and money because a dose of medication, dewormer or supplement that is too small will be ineffective. Furthermore, if you don’t use enough dewormer, parasites are very likely to develop a resistance to deworming products.
When you bring new stock home, you should give it an immediate drench and then keep the animal off pasture for a minimum of eight hours to avoid contaminating your pasture with any parasites the new animal may bring in.
Let the pasture rest for the entire life cycle of the type of parasite in question. This can take as long as six months, and it’s helpful if there’s a hard frost during that time to kill off the intruders.
Some goat keepers do use a syringe; however, doing so increases the chances that your animals will aspirate whatever substance you are trying to deliver. You are far better off using a standard drench gun.
Drenching a goat is something that every goat farmer should know how to do. Follow the tips above and you’ll find that it quickly becomes second nature!