While we all do our best to keep our farms, homes, and homesteads safe, accidents do happen. It is important that humans and animals are prepared for injuries and have everything on hand to help heal wounds quickly.
You cannot be prepared for every eventuality on a farm, but there are a few key items to keep on hand that will help to sterilize wounds, staunch bleeding, and other quick and vital fixes.
A farm first aid kid should be easily accessible and stored in a safe place where the items inside will stay dry and un-contaminated. Check everything regularly to make sure it is all there, and nothing has expired. Everyone on the farm should know where the first aid kit is kept, and one of the most important parts of a first aid kid is your veterinarian’s phone number promenently displayed so you can reach them quickly in an emergency.
Every type of animal will have different specific needs. For example, you should keep an udder ointment on hand to keep teats clean and free of infection in dairy animals, and it’s good to have a bloat treatment on hand for ruminants. It is important to do your research and know what your animals might need.
There are some universal items to keep on hand for healthy farm animals. Your animal first aid kid should include:
Scissors Scissors are always useful on the farm, but a clean and sharp pair should be kept safely in your first aid kit. Scissors are perfect for cutting bandages, or to get a length of twine or other items the right size.
Gauze/Vet Wrap You always need something on hand to cover an open wound or staunch bleeding. Stockpile bandages and gauze pads in case of emergency, being able to cover a wound while you wait for a vet can mean life or death for an animal.
Lubricant Petroleum jelly or another sterile lubricant is good to keep on hand in case you need to assist in a birth or need to take an animal’s temperature. Petroleum jelly is also helpful to put on frostbite which can occur on bird’s combs and wattles.
Veterinary Thermometer It is very important to be able to monitor your animal’s temperatures if they are acting under the weather, and also to be able to take temperatures after a mother has delivered. A veterinary thermometer is used rectally, using a lubricant, and a good one will give an accurate digital reading quickly.
Wound Ointment or Spray You should keep several wound treatments on hand. Blu-Kote is a recommended brand that has both antibacterial and anti fungal properties. Neosporin is a good option which will work well on animals. What you are looking for is something that will prevent infection in a dirty barnyard.
Rubbing Alcohol or Iodine Rubbing alcohol, iodine, or saline can all be used to clean a fresh wound. Keep them on hand for sterilization, and iodine can also be used to dip the umbilical chord of newborns in order to sterilize them.
Latex Gloves Latex gloves are helpful to keep on hand in case of any messy situation. They’re useful not only for handling wounds, but they are also essential to have if you ever help a mother in delivery.
Syringes Syringes are always good to keep on hand for both routine and emergency medical needs. It is good to have both oral and needle, for both emergency medicine doses and routine vaccinations and worming.
Epsom Salts If you keep hoofed animals, it’s good to have epsom salts on hand. Abscessed hooves can be soaked in a bath of water and epsom salts as an effective treatment option.
Flashlight No, a flashlight doesn’t treat any type of injury but you never know when you might need to see in your barn. Keep flashlights everywhere, including in your first aid kit, in case of late night emergencies or deliveries that start in the pre-dawn hours of the morning.
Nutri-Drench and Electrolytes Electrolytes and immune boosters like Nutri-Drench are great to keep on hand for lethargic animals, although you shouldn’t administer them without checking with a veterinarian or expert first. Keeping some supplements like this on hand can help you avoid a trip to the vet for an animal that is a little bit under the weather.
For each specific type of animal there are plenty of helpful supplements and tools to keep on hand in case of emergency. I use garlic and apple cider vinegar regularly as a immune booster for my birds, and baking soda provides digestive support for goats, for example.
Taking the time to put together a well thought out first aid kit can mean the difference between life and death for your animals in an emergency. Talk to your vet about your animals specific needs, and be sure to consult them with any questions you have in your farm yard experiences.
Kirsten Lie-Nielsen is rebuilding a 200-year-old homestead in rural Maine, using geese for weeding and guarding purposes, raising chickens for eggs, bees for honey, and maintaining vegetable gardens for personal use. Find Kirsten online at Hostile Valley Living's site, Facebook page, and Instagram, and read all of her MOTHER EARTH NEWS blog posts here.
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