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 and 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 and you definitely don’t want to risk spreading a contagious infection to the rest of your herd. Luckily, draining an abscess 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 and flushing the abscess was our next step.
You can watch the video tutorial to see exactly what we did.
How to Drain an Abscess on a Goat
Have these items ready before starting:
- Sterile Room Temp. Water mixed with 10% Iodine
- Sterile Scalpel
- Garbage Bag
- Sterile Syringe
- Iodine Spray
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Steps to Lance, Drain, and Flush an Abscess:
STEP #1: Move the animal to an isolation pen in case the infection is contagious (like Caseous Lymphadenitis-CL).
STEP #2: Place a garbage bag, tarp, or anything else that will keep pus off the floor under the animal. This makes for easily clean up and a sanitary pen.
STEP#3: Put a sterile pair of gloves on. We wear gloves while draining to avoid introducing any new bacteria to the goat and to keep the pus off of our hands.
STEP #4: If you have someone helping you, have him / her hold the animal steady or you can tie the animal securely if you are working alone.
STEP #5: 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 and accurately as it is obviously uncomfortable for the animal.
STEP #6: Push out all of the pus that you can. An abscess will not heal unless it is free of pus.
STEP #7: Use the syringe and water/iodine solution to flush the rest of the infection out. To do this, fill the sterile syringe with the solution, insert the tip of the syringe into the lanced area, and push the solution through the wound to flush.
STEP #8: Spray the affected area heavily with iodine.
STEP #9: Isolate the animal. 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!