That Time I Needed a Livestock First Aid Kit

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Horse bandaging supplies

This week I was thankful to have my livestock first aid kit on hand. One of the horses had a brilliant idea to break down the fence and climb into the small goat pen.

The goats aren't currently in this pen, where a fallen tree trunk still rests on the back fence. On a day when we have some help we'll get that tree cleaned up, but in the meantime the grass and weeds continue to grow and the horse thought he should eat that grass.

So he walked down the two-foot-wide passageway between the empty pigpen and the shed behind it, then pushed and pushed on the fence. Let me explain that this "fence" was several pieces of sheet metal screwed to the posts; it's all that's left of a wall of an old building. The metal made a fence that provided the goats with shade in our very hot summers, but sheet metal isn't really very sturdy. It will keep goats in, but obviously it won't keep horses out - even though it's taken several years for them to try it.

The horse picked up his hooves and stepped over the bottom piece of sheet metal, which was about two feet high. Ah, grass! The other two horses followed him of course. When I walked outside to do the morning chores and saw them where they shouldn't be, I exclaimed "how on earth did you get in there???" (Little known fact about me: I'm shy around humans, but I talk to my animals a lot.)

Horse at sunrise.

They came out of the pen to eat their breakfast and then carefully stepped back over the metal to graze on the forbidden patch of grass. I knew we had to fix that right away before one of them cut a leg on that piece of sheet metal they were climbing over. Hubby came outside and we gathered the tools, nails and fencing we'd need to make the repairs, but not before Ella - just like I predicted - cut up her leg.

Blood ran from the side of her front leg, a little below the knee, and down her hoof. I washed it off with the hose and hubby poured "gentle iodine" on it. The wound wasn't large or deep, just a cut, but it was bleeding rather profusely. She wasn't limping. When I checked it about 15 minutes later it was still bleeding more than I thought it should be, and I decided I'd better bandage it.

Livestock bandaging supplies

Along with my livestock first aid kit, I fetched my "bandaging kit" from the horse barn and a halter and rope. This kit, packed in a cat litter bucket, holds all the items I need to treat a wounded horse or goat or dog: absorbent wrap, several rolls of Vetrap, bandage tape, scissors, homemade wound salve, wound powder and so on. It's kind of a triage bucket, so that I can stop bleeding or just treat a small cut at the barn. I keep the bigger first aid kit in the house to avoid temperature fluctuations, but the bandaging bucket stays at the barn.

I gathered a handful of yarrow leaves to help stop the bleeding. After washing Ella's leg again, I applied the yarrow leaves and held them in place with a sheet of the absorbent cotton wrap I cut to fit around her leg, and wrapped it all up with Vetrap, then some adhesive bandage tape. If I hadn't had yarrow available I would have dusted the cut with wound powder.

Livestock first aid kit

Ella was so funny when I let her loose, lifting her bandaged leg up high as she walked.

When I checked on her at lunchtime she was grazing near the barn with the geldings. There was no fresh blood below the bandage and the bandage was still on (hurray!)

The fence is fixed now with goat fencing stretched between the wooden posts and a 2x4 nailed to the posts just above the wire. The top of the fencing is wired to the 2x4 to keep the horses from pulling it down by stepping on the bottom. Ella's leg looks like it will heal just fine.

That time I needed my livestock first aid kit.

Just another day on the homestead. It's reassuring to know I can grab a bucket of supplies when even a little emergency strikes, and take care of my animals.

Do you have a first aid kit in the barn?

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  1. I love that you are prepared with your livestock first aid kit- and the yarrow! Yarrow is my favorite and we use it all the time. Antiseptic as well as good for stopping the bleeding.

    1. Yarrow is amazing stuff, isn't it, Michelle?

  2. My goat first aid kit grows every so often when a new need arises. But it's definitely great to have needed items on hand when they get sick or get themselves in trouble. (Goats always get themselves in trouble!)

    1. I agree that goats are ALWAYS in trouble!

  3. I came to visit from Chicken Chick's bloghop - hope you'll stop by my place too & leave me a message so I know that I've had some company!

    I have all my barn aid stuff in the drawer of my tack room, but I see how packing it into a bucket could save me some steps & think I shall follow your example.

    1. Hello, Mrs Shoes! Thank you for stopping by; I'll come visit you too.

      Keeping your supplies in a bucket lets you grab and go, but you're already ahead of the game by having supplies on hand in your tack room. Good for you!

  4. I don't have a barn or a first-aid livestock kit. But I'm thankful for people who do. :) And who know how to use them. You're a strong woman, Kathi. Thanks for sharing this story.

  5. It's great to be prepared. You just never know what these critters will get into. Good to know about the yarrow.
    Thank you for sharing your outdoor post on this week's Maple Hill Hop!

    1. Horses especially - if there's anything they can get hurt on, they will! Thank you, Daisy.

  6. Another useful post, thanks for sharing with Hearth and soul blog hop.


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