A goat -or any other animal- can develop an abscess when bacteria multiplies under the skin. This can happen if the animal has cut itself on fencing or anything else that might puncture the skin. They can also be caused by a chronic & contagious disease called Caseous Lymphadenitis or CL. You can have your vet run tests for you if you think CL might be the issue.
Abscesses aren’t fun & you definitely don’t want to risk spreading a contagious infection to the rest of your herd. Luckily, clearing them up is a pretty simple procedure.
We had to drain one recently when the largest goat in our herd, a sweet Nubian named Jewel, developed a large abscess on her neck. We treated her with penicillin to try to dry it up without lancing, but that didn’t do the trick (it usually won’t but it’s worth a shot). Draining & flushing the abscess was our next step.
You can watch the video to see exactly what we did.
How to Drain an Abscess on a Goat
Have these items ready before starting:
- Sterile Water mixed with 10% Iodine (You want room temp water, not too hot & not too cold.)
- Sterile Scalpel
- Sterile Syringe
- Garbage Bag
- Iodine Spray
- Move the goat to an isolation pen in case the infection is contagious (like Caseous Lymphadenitis-CL).
- Place a garbage bag (or anything that will keep pus off the floor) under the goat. This makes for easily clean up and a sanitary pen.
- Put your gloves on. We wear gloves while draining to avoid introducing any new bacteria to the goat & to keep the pus off of our hands.
- Have one person hold the goat steady or tie the goat securely if you are working alone.
- Lance at the lowest point possible on the abscess with your sterile scalpel. Cutting the lowest point makes draining easier. The bottom of Jewel’s abscess had hardened a bit so I had to cut up a little higher than we wanted to. Try to do this part quickly & accurately as it is obviously uncomfortable for the goat.
- Push all of the pus out that you can. An abscess will not heal unless it is free of pus.
- Use the syringe & water/iodine solution to flush the rest of the infection out.
- Spray heavily with iodine.
- Add this procedure to the Goat Medical Record for the treated goat.
We kept Jewel in the isolation pen for about 3 days to keep a close eye on her & to ensure that the infection was gone before re-introducing her to the herd. She is all healed up & happy now!