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How to Draw Blood and Blood Test your goats

The following article is a excerpt from Raising Meat Goats for Profit by Gail Bowman. Do not reproduce without express written permission.

How to Blood Test your Goats

Blood testing is an easy way to check your herd for most diseases. You can either take your animals to the veterinarian to have the blood drawn, or learn to do it yourself. Drawing blood is not hard, if you have the stomach for it, and doing it yourself will cut mountains off your vet bill. I strongly suggest that you have someone show you the trick the first couple times, but here is one way to do it:

Just use a standard 3cc syringe with a normal 1" x 20 needle. Get a couple of strong helpers to hold the goat. Shave the hair off one side of the goats neck from the center to about 3 inches out. Now feel the center of the neck for the voice box. From there, run your thumb along the skin towards the outside of the neck (about 1 1/2 to 2 inches) until you feel a rope like thing. That is the vein. If you put your thumb on that vein you will notice a bulge develop a little ways above your thumb. With your other hand, slide the needle into the bottom of that bulge in an almost straight up direction. If you go through at too great an angle, you will go out the other side of the vein. If you go almost straight up, you will feel the resistance of the vein, then you will be in. The goat might jump a little, try to keep her still. Now you can take your thumb off of the vein and pull back on the plunger until you have the amount of blood you need. (If you pull back on the plunger, and get air, remove the needle from the goat to expel the air. Do not take a chance on injecting air into a vein!) When you remove the needle from the goat´s neck, put a cotton swab with alcohol on it over the hole and press it there for a minute to allow the blood to clot. You did it!
Now what? Put the blood into a standard blood tube with no additives in it. They are usually a test tube looking thing with a red stopper in the top. You can buy these at any reasonable medical supply house. (You may have to shop a bit for a "reasonable" one.) Now write the goat’s name and/or number on the label on the tube, and put the tube in a small cup to hold it up, and put it in the fridge. After 5 hours or so you can send it to the lab for testing. If it is warm outside you may need to put a small cold pack in with it when you mail it.

Here are a few laboratories that may be able to process your blood sample. If there is not one listed in your area, try calling the one that is nearest to you. They probably know of another lab that is closer.

California Veterinary Diagnostic Lab System
West Health Sciences Drive
University of California - Davis
Davis, Calif. 95616

National Animal Disease Center
PO Box 70
Ames, Iowa 50010

Pan American Veterinary Laboratories
3921 Steck Ave
Austin, Texas 78759
(512)794-9657 Fax

Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratories
University of Minnesota
College of Veterinary Medicine
Carter and Gortner Aves.
St Paul, Minnesota 55108

Washington Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory
College of Veterinary Medicine
Washington State University
PO Box 2037
College Station/Bustad Hall, Rm 155-N
Pullman, Washington 99165-2037
(509)335-7424 Fax

Diagnostic Laboratory
Cornell University
College of Veterinary Medicine
Ithaca, New York 14853

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