Health Testing and Drawing Blood

I quarantined the new goats when they were brought to the Farm until I was able to draw blood and send samples off to be tested. The process of drawing blood is not particularly difficult but it involves attention to timing as it is not desirable to have the blood samples arrive at the lab late and sit over the weekend. In the past, when I have had veterinarians come out to draw blood, all of them have used the New Mexico State Lab. The State Lab is back-logged so test results were often delayed for several weeks. In addition, the charges were excessive. After doing some on-line research I discovered that WADDL (Washington Animal Disease Diagnostic Lab) offered the same services much, much cheaper and that I could have the same tests run on four goats for what the State Lab would charge of a single goat. While I am not opposed to the idea of paying a veterinarian to draw blood, I discovered that none of the veterinarians in this county would ship samples to WADDL – even though it is a fully accredited lab recognized by the State of New Mexico – and one veterinarian even refused to draw blood unless it was sent to the State Lab.

Knowing I intended to start drawing blood samples myself, I had ordered the requisite blood tubes last year. In past jobs I have drawn blood on humans, dogs and cats so I was not unduly concerned about drawing blood on the goats. However, since blood draws on goats are done via the jugular vein and not the cephalic vein as is usual in dogs, and since it has been about 20 years since I last drew blood, I decided I would ask whether I could pay a veterinarian from a local clinic to come out and give me a quick refresher on drawing blood from a goat. (Yes, there are plenty of Youtube videos and step-by-step written instructions on the Internet, but I learn best by observation and then hands-on practice under supervision.)

I set up an appointment and earlier this week the veterinarian and her tech arrived. We discussed what I needed and she agreed to walk me through the process. As drawing blood is generally a two person job – one to restrain the goat and the second to perform the draw – we discussed that I intended to use the milk stand to restrain the goats. Therefore, after the first goat was done in the usual fashion, we did the remaining goats on the milk stand. I remembered there being a learning curve to draw blood on the first stick and therefore was not surprised to find that while I remembered the “how to” I had lost the knack of finding the vein on the first stick. I managed to draw the first and last goat I tried, but after three unsuccessful sticks, had the veterinarian draw the other goats.

Since some of the tests I run are not reliable on goats under 6 months of age, the two bucklings will have blood drawn for testing at the end of the summer. More practice for me.

The blood samples were duly packaged per WADDL instructions and mailed Priority Mail. Some of the tests are run on Thursdays and so will be run today. Other tests are run on Tuesdays and those will be run next week. I expect the test results to be mailed by the end of next week.

Since I have a closed herd I have been comfortable in the past just testing every three years (this is the first time in several years I have brought in new goats from an outside herd). However, if I draw blood myself and use WADDL, the costs will be significantly less than in past years and I may go to testing every other year, or even annually.

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