The Road Home

The Road Home
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Tuesday, January 21, 2014

A Strange Goat Abscess

A few days ago I noticed this lumpy place on Copper's side. The odd thing about it was the location. It was on her right side toward her back leg. I decided to watch it for a few days. My concern was that she is due to kid March 7th and I wondered if this could be a hernia or something that would be affected by her pregnancy or the process of kidding.

After a few days we realized it wasn't going away, in fact the lumps appeared to be getting harder. We didn't want to take any chances, so we called our vet. And since we didn't want to transport her this close to kidding, we asked him to come out. This is a more expensive endeavor, since we have to pay mileage, but we felt it was necessary this time.

When he arrived and examined her, he ruled out any herniation because he could pull the lumps out away from the muscles of her body cavity and surround them with his fingers. Thank goodness. Next, he got out his portable ultra sound. I'm sorry, I didn't get any pictures, I was too busy watching. I did ask his permission to take these pictures. The ultra sound was interesting. He thought the image displayed looked like an abscess so his next step was to see what would happen when he poked it with a syringe. He poked around on it for a while, but couldn't pull anything out of it. But after he took the needle out and squirted the syringe, out came the characteristic pus that comes from an abscess. He wanted to make sure that was what it was before he lanced the lumps.

For some of the other abscesses our goat occasionally get, we usually let them come to a head and start to crack open on their own. This is shown in another post here. This time, due to the location and the timing of Copper's pregnancy, we wanted these abscesses, there were two right next to each other, dealt with now so they could heal before she goes into labor. We felt she had gotten into some of the thorny bushes we have growing around here and poked herself a couple of times, causing these abscesses.

She wasn't real happy about this process. We put her up on the milk stand to make it easier for us to work and to distract her with a little grain. First the doc swabbed her side with alcohol swabs and iodine scrub, which is about 3% strength.

Then he lanced the abscesses open and began to squeeze out the pus.

He continued to work on them until he felt like he had most of the pus out.

Then he used a hemostat to pull out some of the skin that formed the pocket around the abscess. He called this the plug and described it as the skin that encases the abscess, walling it off from the tissue around it. He said if you can puncture, or pull out this plug then the body is able to quickly heal itself. After he finished cleaning out the abscess he infused it with a cephalosporin antibiotic, gave Copper an antibiotic shot and a shot to deal with pain and swelling, insuring me that none of this would harm her babies. 

We consider this another investment in our learning process. I told Frank, sometimes you have to pay to go to school. This was one of those cases. And, of course, while the vet was here we had a nice visit about a variety of other things that we can add to our arsenal of knowledge. Every little bit helps and you never know when it will come in handy. Take advantage of every learning opportunity that comes your way, even if it involves pus and scalpels. Sometimes these lessons present themselves in unexpected ways. Learn all you can, everyday, in every way.

Until next time - Fern 


  1. Wow you are having a learning year! Copper looks so stoic . Are those thorn's Hawthorn? One of the properties Ralph and I are looking at has a lot of them and I was concerned about how we would deal with them.
    Did the Vet say why he did not clip the abscess before he lanced it? Give poor Copper Get well wishes from us! Bless your farm.

    1. Hi Fiona,

      I don't think they are Hawthorn. If I remember right, most folks around here call them Honey Locust. The thorns can grow to about 3 inches long and they really sting if they poke you. We try to keep most of them brush hogged down in the pastures.

      The abscess was not protruding very much. I'm not sure why he didn't clip it and I am not familiar with that procedure. Copper was a little off yesterday, but she appears to be doing better this evening.

      Take care,


  2. Thanks for this, it was very interesting. When we farmed, and needed the vet, I asked lots of questions....figured it cost enough, I might as well get my money's worth.

  3. Go easy.... I haven't had breakfast yet! :)

    Y'all have a good day! Tell Frank I'm ready for another radio or gun post!

    1. Oklahoma Prepper,
      Thank you for reading. I posted a radio article two days back. Ready to get your General?

    2. I thought it was a very good article but...... I keep saying I'm not going to take the General. You never know.

  4. If your other goats are getting abscesses as well, it sounds like CL to me, which goats can get in the hindquarters. Did the vet send it out to be tested?