Vaccinating Goats

Dr. Mary C. Smith
NYSCVM Cornell University
ECA Symposium on Goat Health
June 3, 1995 - revised February 2016

General Considerations

  • Do not vaccinate wet animals; predisposes to abscesses.
  • Refrigerate vaccines.
  • Swab top of bottle with alcohol if dust on it (killed vaccines).
  • Only a sterile needle ever goes in the stock bottle.
  • New needle for each goat if possible.
  • Do not mix vaccines with other vaccines or drugs; do use a clean syringe.
  • Read label for meat withdrawals.
  • Read label for other safety concerns (soremouth).
  • Keep written records of vaccination dates.
  • Burn needles, syringes, empty or unused vials, especially soremouth.
  • Epinephrine is the antidote for anaphylactic reactions.  The ruminant dose is 0.5 to 1.0 ml/100 pounds of the 1:1000 product IM or SC.

Tetanus - Enterotoxemia

  • Enterotoxemia is also called overeating disease.
  • Tetanus can occur after wounds, castration, disbudding.
  • Both of these diseases are caused by specific clostridial bacteria.

Which animals? All goats should be vaccinated for tetanus and Clostridium C &D (enterotoxemia).  A full 8-way clostridial vaccine is used by some but not necessary on most NY farms.

When? Two doses about 4 weeks apart, then annual boosters or booster more frequently if heavily fed on grain.  If kids received colostrum from properly vaccinated does, give kids their first booster at 6 weeks to 2 months of age.  If they did not receive colostrum from properly vaccinated does, start boosters at 1 month and give 3 doses at 4 week intervals.

Vaccination site? Subcutaneous injection is best. Will make lumps. Lumps last a long time if injection in skin rather than under skin. Preferable to vaccinate high on neck, have your veterinarian show you proper technigues. Kneel and drape kids across your thigh for restraint.

Withdrawal period? Milk - none, Meat - read label (21 days)

Tetanus - Antitoxin

  • Not a vaccine.

When? Provides temporary protection (3 weeks) if unvaccinated animal or young kid that did not receive colostrum from vaccinated doe is injured or undergoes surgery.

Dose? 250-300 units to kid, 500 units to adult goat.

Injection site? Subcutaneous.  Can begin permanent vaccination series at same time, using different syringe and different vaccination site.

Withdrawal period?  Meat - 21 days.


  • No rabies vaccine is licensed for goats in the US. However, there has been one long term study testing the Merial sheep rabies vaccine (Imrab®) on goats.
  • Use killed vaccine licensed for sheep; Imrab® favored.
  • Only a veterinarian can give rabies vaccine in New York
  • be sure vaccine brand and serial number are recorded.
  • State officials will not recognize the goat as vaccinated if there is later concern
  • about human exposure, but owner has peace of mind and vaccine from past study appears to be effective.

Which Animals? Pets, show goats, exposure to raccoons, skunks or foxes.

When? The vaccine should be given annually to goats although it can be given asfar apart as every 3 years in sheep. You can begin giving the vaccine at 3 months of age. Vaccination site? Subcutaneous if Imrab®. Defensor® labeled for intramuscular use.

Withdrawal period? Milk - none in cattle or sheep, Meat - 21 days in cattle and sheep, so use 21 days for goats also


Orf, Soremouth

  • Disease causes crusty scabs, especially on mouth or face, rarely inside mouth.
  • Scabs last 3-4 weeks.
  • Disease is contagious to people; similar signs and no treatment.
  • Vaccine is live and unattenuated. New York State specifies that this vaccine should be administered under the direction of a veterinarian

Which animals? Not recommended for most herds unless the herd already has
experienced the disease. Use for kids in persistently infected herds.  Also consider for herds that show a lot and are likely to encounter the disease. Vaccine introduces the disease to the farm, so avoid using in closed, uninfected herd.

When? Kids shortly after birth or weaning. Show goats at least 6 weeks before first show, so that the vaccine scabs have time to fall off.

Vaccination site? Scratch skin inside ear, on underside of tail, or on inside of thigh or flank (not in lactating goats). Wear gloves!

Withdrawal period? Meat - 21 days.

Other Vaccines

  • Depends on your disease status and whether a vaccine is available for that disease that has proved effective in goats.  Discuss any other vaccine with your veterinarian before deciding to use it.