How to Lance an Abscess on Angora Goats
By Dr Mackie Hobson BSc(Agric),BVSc

Monday, 15th April 2019

The infection that causes the abscess must come through a break in the defence system usually through the skin or mucosa. If abscesses occur occasionally then one can consider lancing and treating the abscess.  However, if a number of goats have an abscess then a Vet should be consulted and sterile samples for culture and identification should be made.

If abscesses occur in a number of goats then vaccination following the identification (culture) is effective in controlling their occurrence on the farm once the predisposing factors have been reviewed.

“Sterile abscesses", for example vaccination sites from the pulpy kidney oil-adjuvant vaccines, may occur due to the reaction from the body. These should not be lanced.

Deep abscesses should also not be lanced by the farmer and a Vet should be contacted.

The most common bacteria involved in an Angora goat abscesses are:

  • Corynebacterium ovis now called Corynebacterium pseudotuberculosis
  • Corynebacterium pyogenes later called Actinomyces pyogenes and Acranobacterium pyogenes now called Trueperella pyogenes
  • Abscess of the liver are often a result of the bacteria Coli which either enter via the umbilicus in young kids or through the intestinal tract mucosa where the defence barrier has been compromised such as in cases of acidosis.




A basic kit to lance an abscess.

Gloves, mask, razor to shave area, topical disinfectant to clean and flush, syringe to flush, topical anaesthetic spray, scalpel blade, swab if sterile samples required for culture. Also topical skin spray (example Supona). Disposable towel or kidney dish (plastic container) to catch abscess material to incinerate not in photo.

  1. Remove the goat from any handling facilities to avoid environmental contamination.
  2. Wear PPE (Gloves, safety glasses and mask) as abscesses often behave unpredictably when lanced - especially the larger ones. Certain infections may be Zoonotic -Corynebacterium pseudotuberculosis - can enter the blood stream on cuts on the hands or breathed in.
  3. A sterile needle/syringe can be inserted to swelling and aspirated to check for pus to confirm the diagnosis and check that the abscess is "ripe" enough to lance. When the abscess is ‘ripe’ a thin-skinned part of the abscess that moves easily under slight pressure (like a blister) will be felt.
  1. Place the goat on a sheet or bag that can be correctly disposed of afterwards to prevent contamination of the environment.
  2. If possible shave the area over the abscess with a razor to avoid pus sticking to the surrounding hair to contaminate the wound or attract flies.
  3. abscess_2.jpg  abscess_3.jpg
  4. Clean the skin (topical disinfectant such as Chlorhexidine).
  5. Xylocaine 1-mg/0.1ml (Schedule 1) can be obtained from your vet as topical pain relief (local anaesthesia) to spray the skin before lancing. Leave for 1 minute before lancing.
  6. abscess_4.jpg
  7. With a sterile scalpel blade lance the abscess at the most ventral point of the ‘ripe’ abscess to allow drainage. Make a cross shaped incision instead of just one nick as often if just a single cut they tend to close up too quickly and don't always drain properly. 
  8. abscess_5.jpgabscess_6.jpg
  9. If possible or required a swab can be used to take a sample for culture and identification of the bacteria.
  10.  abscess_7.jpg
  11. Express the pus onto a paper towel or into a plastic bag or container that can be incinerated afterwards.
  12. abscess_8.jpg
  13. Flush the wound with sterile water or a topical disinfectant (chlorhexidine or Iodine) as per manufacturer’s instructions. Ensure the environment is not contaminated catching the flush in a container or paper towel. A product such as Acriflavine Glycerine (use in contaminated wounds) may be instilled into the empty flushed cavity.
  14. abscess_9.jpgabscess_10.jpg
  15. Spray the wound with a licenced topical spray wound spray/fly repellent.(Example Supona)
  16. The effectiveness of antibiotics is limited due to the capsule surrounding the abscess.
  17. Lancing of the abscess provides pain relief from the pressure of the abscess. Injecting local anaesthetic may lead to popping of the abscess, the needle may pass into the abscess and not be effective, injecting into the epidermis/dermis of the skin is difficult and itself uncomfortable so is not recommend. Injectable lignocaine (Schedule 4) and may not be kept by the farmer.

In valuable goats the abscess can be removed surgically by a Vet.


  • Shed floors should be disinfected with 3% formalin a week before shearing.
  • Shear young goats first as usually have no abscess
  • Treat shearing wounds with antibiotic spray
  • Disinfect shears with 3-5% formalin
  • Supply shearers with clean overalls
  • Goats should not be dipped until shearing wounds have healed. (3-5 days)
  • Add Zinc sulphate to dip (1kg/1000litres)
  • Under intensive conditions disinfect umbilicus of kids after birth with antibiotic sprays.
  • Tick control must be good
  • Infected goats act as a reservoir of infection culling infected goats in severe cases can be considered.
  • Take care when dosing goats
  • If abscesses are a problem a new needle must be used for each individual goat when vaccinating or treating goats with Vitamins, minerals etc.

Vaccination should only be considered when all attempts have been made to rule out the predisposing factors. A culture to identify the bacteria should also be done. Vaccination will not cure the problem but help reduce the occurrence.

For info on abscesses in Angora goats see

Also see article on Foot abcesses ‘Sweerklou’

Dr Mackie Hobson

 BSc Agric (Pietermaritzburg) BVSc (Pretoria)

Input from:

Dr Rhoda Leask

BScAgric(Pietermaritzburg), BVSc(Pretoria), MMedVet(CaprOv) (Pretoria), Dip. ECSRHM

Production Animal Studies

Faculty of Veterinary Science

University of Pretoria


Dr Malcolm MacFarlane BVSc (Pretoria)

Private Veterinarian



Dr Bob Chipako BVSc

State Veternarian




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