Having a well-stocked animal first aid kit is a vital part of owning livestock on a homestead. Learn how we stock our kits and why we use buckets to store our supplies!
Why it’s important to stock your animal first aid kits before you need them:
An essential part of caring for livestock is having the basic knowledge and equipment to provide emergency medical care when needed. I’m sure that we could all tell a story about when an animal emergency happened on our homestead! And it probably happened on an evening, weekend or holiday! Animals seem to always become ill or injured when all the feed stores are closed and the vet can’t be reached. Or, even if a vet was reachable, many of us still live an hour or more away and need to provide care in the meantime.
Let me tell you from first hand experience: If you wait to buy your animal medical supplies until you need them, you’ve waited too long!
Shortly after we brought home our first goats two years ago, one of the young does developed polioencephalomalacia (aka “polio”). Polio is a metabolic disease that effects ruminants. Polio isn’t terribly uncommon among goats and it can be treated. However, polio can quickly become fatal if treatment isn’t available.
Of course, this happened on a Sunday morning, and all the vets in our area were closed. We ended up having to drive to a vet an hour and half away and almost lost our doe in the process. Thinking back now, I realize how lucky we were! I also realize how unprepared we were! We could have treated our goat at home (or at least begun treatment) if we had the proper treatment on hand.
Over the years, we began buying supplies here and there as money allowed. But I still didn’t feel prepared. Supplies were stored throughout the barn and house, with no central storage location, and there were still many necessary items that we didn’t have on hand. We had been been very lucky so far, but I still felt like we were dancing a bit too close to the fire! It was time to get our first aid kits in order!
How I stocked our animal first aid kits:
The expense associated with stocking proper first aid kits is a barrier for many homesteaders, myself included. Medical supplies aren’t cheap. Unfortunately, there really isn’t a good way around this. It’s one of those times where you just have to bite the bullet. Keep in mind that while it might seem expensive to buy a bunch of medical supplies that you may or may not use, I guarantee you that it will be cheaper in the long run than losing an animal.
In order to compile our first aid kits, I gathered the medical supplies that we had on hand and started organizing them. I marked down our on-hand supplies on the Medical Supply Inventory lists in my 2018 Homestead Management Binder (get yours here!). I made one inventory list for our chickens, one for the goats and one for our goat kidding supplies.
Once I did that, I was able to see what supplies we still needed. I made a shopping list and toured most of the feed stores in town as I gathered supplies. Apparently, OB lube is a hot commodity in our town, because two different stores were completely sold out! I also visited the dreaded Walmart to buy certain supplies like scissors, digital thermometers, etc.
I made three separate first aid kits:
*Update: Because you are all so awesome and asked what I keep in each of our kits, I made a post about each one and how we stock them. Click on the links below to get all the details! 😀
Why I LOVE using buckets for our livestock first aid kits:
My last stop was to Lowes, where I purchased three new 5-gallon buckets. In case you didn’t know this about me, I have an affinity for buckets. I seriously think they are the most underrated homesteading tool! They can be used for so many different projects, including housing your first aid kits!
Buckets make the best storage container for first aid kits, in my opinion! Buckets are:
- Portable, easy to grab and carry out to the barn
- Easy to quickly grab and take with you in case of an evacuation
- Stackable for easy storage
- Easy to clean in case of spills
- Can double as a seat for those long nights in the barn!
I loaded all my supplies into the buckets and made some cute little labels for them. I slipped the label into sheet protectors and used packing tape to secure them to the buckets. This helps protect the labels from water, moisture and general wear and tear.
I stacked the first aid buckets in the corner of a spare closet – nicely tucked away until we need them. Now, all of our medical supplies are stocked, organized, and easy to access in case of an emergency!
I can’t explain the relief I feel in knowing that we are better prepared to handle an emergency, if and when one does arise. While I know that we won’t be able to handle all emergencies without the help of our wonderful farm vet, I feel much better knowing that we can take care of minor emergencies and provide care until the vet arrives.
How do you store your animal first aid supplies? Comment below!