Drawing Blood

Drawing Blood

We do our own blood draws for our annual herd health testing.  It’s definitely a 2-person job, and as I tend to be a fainter (ugh), I hold the goat and my husband does the actual draw.  When we were first researching how to do this ourselves, we found a video showing a little girl holding the goat that was totally charming and confidence-inspiring – that was years ago and I can’t find that video now!  Let me know if you find it.

Here I will include a link to another excellent video and also an article by Sue Reith – I recommend checking them both out.  Also links to buy the syringes and the vacutainers…

The video:
How to Draw Blood on a Goat


Red Top Vacutainers
Plastic is fine – they are available on Amazon too but for more $$$

Guide to Drawing Blood for Testing Purposes
By Sue Reith (reprinted with kind permission)

Materials needed

  • One sterile 10-12cc syringe per animal
  • One sterile 1-inch X 20 gauge needle per syringe
  • One Red-top 10cc Vacutainer per animal
  • One black pen to write a goat ID on each vacutainer
  • Clippers with stripping blade
  • Bottle of Isopropyl alcohol and cotton balls
  • One courageous person to draw blood
  • One sturdy person to restrain goat


I suggest doing this early on a Monday morning, so that it can be taken to the Post Office by noon and shipped Next-Day-Air to WADDL at WSU, because testing is only done on Wednesday.

It’s important that the goat not be able to dance around, as that would make the effort to draw the blood somewhat difficult, if not dangerous. The person designated to restrain the goat plants his/her feet firmly, pulling the goat up close for support, and firmly but gently lifts and holds the goat’s head up and away from the person that will be making the blood draw.

Prepare the needles on the syringes, and have the red-top vacutainers right there beside them.

In the drawing here you will see a ‘jugular’ furrow. That runs up the length of the goat’s neck and can be felt thru the hair coat. The jugular vein, of course, is found along that furrow.

BTW: There is a jugular furrow in the same spot on EACH side of the goat’s neck. So this procedure can be conducted from either the right or the left side of the goat, depending on which is more comfortable for the person doing the blood drawing to use…

Clip away about a 2-inch wide, 3-inch high strip of hair from a mid-section of that jugular furrow area so that you can see what you are doing, and then swab the clipped area with alcohol.

Grasp the syringe in whichever hand you plan to use to do the blood draw (I do so with my left hand, with the hole in the point of the needle facing outward so I can see it), and press the thumb of the other hand firmly in the jugular furrow and hold it there until the jugular vein, with the blood flow stopped, starts to fill up and become apparent. This may take a few tries…

Gently insert (slide) the tip of the needle upward into the swelled vein, and slowly withdraw the plunger, in so doing withdrawing blood from the vein, until ~10cc have been drawn out.

Pull out the needle and place a dry cotton ball over the hole that was made, applying pressure to stop the blood flow. The person restraining the goat can then take over that job while you put the needle into the top of the vacutainer and plunge the entire 10cc of blood into it. Write the identity of that goat on the container before continuing on to the next draw…

As soon as you’re sure the bleeding has stopped, return the goat to its pen and bring out another one, repeating the whole process again until you have finished the entire blood draw!

Box up and take the Red-top vacutainers to the Post Office ASAP for shipping to WADDL.

WSU-WADDL FAQs for CAE testing

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