We haven’t kidded yet. But Rosie is getting close! We can tell because her rear end is getting a bit swollen looking. She isn’t bagging up yet, so that means it isn’t within the next few days.
Vet2Be wasn’t great about putting dates on a calendar this year. Since the goats are really his project, I decided last year I was going to let him be responsible for it. He did great last year–but not this time around!
We know some people in California who ended up loosing their doe and kid last month. The kid got wedged into the birth canal. It wouldn’t go back in, and it couldn’t come out. So sad! This was their first year kidding. It breaks my heart when a family ends up loosing, not only a pet, but also part of their food supply.
The friend we have in common told me about the situation and asked what I would have done. I think I would have gone in and worked harder at pushing the kid back in and re-positioning it to get it out.
I decided to ask on the goat yahoo groups I am a part of to see what they said.
The rest of this post is rather long. It is the most helpful responses I got. I wanted to store them here, on my blog, so that if I run into a situation like that I will have some sort of reference to look at.
Here’s the question I posted:
I heard about this situation yesterday and received details this morning. We are not very experienced (we’ve only had goats for about 5 years) so I would like some input. In my very limited experience I think there was nothing to be done in this situation except what was done.
I know the doe was Nubian (I know this is a Saanen group, but lots of you have other breeds) and this was her first time kidding. There are no veterinarians in the area (they are way up in the mountains about 2 hours from anywhere.)
Here is the email I received:
“We were invited to go to the Gardners for lunch [on Sunday], though he hadn’t been to church that day because one of his goats went into labor. We came by afterward expecting they had finished, but they were still in the event after five hours. Turner has experience doing such things with dairy cows, so we got in to help. The kid had wedged in the birth canal and it’s head had been folded back, neck broken. They were working frantically to save the goat, but couldn’t force the corpse back far enough to dislodge it. Unfortunately, Jim had to put her down. He later said he’s never had such a hard time shooting anything as he did Crystal, the goat.
“After she was down, we sliced her open to see if there were any other viable kids, but there was only the one. We found part of the reason for the complications was that the one kid was about 125% as large as it should have been. Afterward we helped bury Crystal.” (end of email)
Last year we helped with a neighbor’s goat who had been in labor for 15 hours (I didn’t know about it or I would have been there much, much sooner). Their goat presented in a similar way, except the head was folded forward and the front legs and head were pointed towards the doe’s head. I was able to move the head and legs to get the kid out, but the kid wasn’t wedged in the birth canal so we were able to save the doe.
I don’t think there was anything that could have been done to save Crystal (the doe from the email), the kid, or to avoid the problem in the first place. Any thoughts on this situation would be appreciated. If we encounter a similar situation I would like to have an idea of how to handle it. —Thanks everyone.
Here are the responses I got:
I’ve had things like this happen in my 28 years of goat keeping and it’s why I always check does as soon as I know they are in labor. Often you can check as soon as the cervix is open and reposition the kid before it gets too far into the birth canal. If I feel a nose and feet I back off and let her kid on her own. If not I keep checking until I can figure out what’s coming and repositioned as necessary.
Often with these mal-presented kids you’ll find that the doe takes a long time to totally open the cervix. You’ll often see her having a contraction that seems to abruptly end rather than just trail off.
These are all reasons to check on how the kid is coming.
I know that lots of people say hands out!!! but believe me you won’t find a vet that will keep their hands out. And as my vet said, “show me one ob doc that doesn’t check multiple times.”
I’m sure you’ll get lots of other responses and everyone does things a bit differently but I’d always check. Some other signs of early labor. Goat going off by herself; stopping what she’s doing and staring into space; holding her breath for a bit. Of course some do like our old doe, Elvira, and start screaming at the first little pain and keep screaming without stopping until after the kids are born, or like Jose who would start flinging barn cats as her first sign of labor. Then there are does like Odette who didn’t show any signs and kidded while standing on her hind legs eating hay.
Bev – CharisManor Saanens – Paramount Toggs
We kid out around 100 does every year. I’ve had this happen more times than I can remember over the years. I push the kid back in. It’s hard. It has to be done. Don’t give up until that kid is back far enough that it can be turned. Then rearrange and pull it out. Sometimes it takes lube to unstick the kid. Last year it was a friend’s 8 year old first freshening Angora doe with a stuck kid. Lube worked along with a lot of muscle.
Sometimes it takes dismembering the kid and bringing it out in pieces. The one we had to dismember was one I almost gave up on. Neighbors had a pygmy that got bred by a full size buck at the stockyard when they bought her. She was tiny. The kid was huge, dead and head back. They had let her labor all day and called me at around midnight. Doe was exhausted and close to the end. Old tobacco barn (Appalachian mountain folks), no lights, no meds, freezing cold, they would not call the vet but they loved this little doe. Anyway, we ended up cutting the kid in pieces and pulling it out by light of a lantern.
The doe recovered and the folks were amenable to me giving them meds to give to the doe. I was so sore from the pulling and manipulating and lying face down in the muck. It was definitely a fine line to walk because I’m not a vet but the alternative was the doe was going to die and they saw me as their savior, so I guess it worked out.
Anyway, once the kid is out, I give the doe lots of supportive therapy along with antibiotics and watch her closely. Even if it seems like you’re really stressing the doe, if the alternative is to put her down, then the choice is try everything up to that.
I also would never walk away from a doe in labor. We live almost 24/7 in the barn when they’re kidding. If a doe is pushing for 30 minutes with no progress, I go in to see what the kids positions are. Be very clean and very careful, but assess before they get so far into labor that the kid is stuck. My philosophy is that helping her shorten her labor gives her a boost on recovery and she’ll milk better over her entire lactation if kidding is less stressful. I come from a background of midwifery, homebirth, natural birth, and not interfering with labor. But goats and sheep seem to have more complications due to the number of kids/lambs they carry.
Hope that helps! Do email me if you need any clarification on what I put down here.
Chris Owen – Spinning Spider Creamery
If the kid has not been delivered in an hours time you should scrub up and go in to check and see if the cervix is dilated and the kid in the proper position. The head back kids can be hard to deliver but if you get to them right away before the does has spent a long time pushing they will not be so tightly wedged. Sometimes I need to put a sterlized shoe string behind the kids head to keep the head in position for delivery while I pull on the front legs. Other wise some will keep flipping the head back. Others I can keep my hand on the back of the head and deliver. Depends on the size of the doe and kids head. Sometimes it helps to put ob lube on the kids head and the back of your hand.
Sherry- (Raising saanens since 1976)
ust this week sometyhing simular happened. A friend of mine fell on the ice and broke her arm. To help out, I took 5 of her heavily bred does. One went into labor. I was able to get the front legs in position and knew at that moment that it was a huge kid. It appeared that the head was going straight back , not to either side. I have delivered many kidsd and I knew I could not get that head where it needed to go, so I loaded the doe up and took her to my vet.
Using his hand, he also was unable to budge the head. But went back into hjis office and came out with a noose. He slide the metal noose into the doe and reached back far enough to get behind the head. A few pulls the head snaped around just above the front legs and came right out. We weighted her and she was 15 pounds. She was born alive but we lost her a little later on. Another doe about 12 pounds came and was fine. Doe is fine
Gay Bottoms – Briar Bay Saanens+ Texas
One thing that could be done would have been to go in earlier when the doe was probably more fully dialated.
If the doe has broke her water and has pushed hard more than a few times and it’s been like an hour or more I think seriously about going in before the birth canal gets too small.
I think people fuss too much over goats in general, treating them when they don’t need it but one thing I have sort of learned with my goats over the years is that if something seems wrong kidding wise then something is probably wrong and you should go in and check.
If that doe is up and down laboring for an hour I’m sort of ready to go in and see if there’s a problem. Most of mine once they actually break water and get down and push 2 or 3 times if they don’t kid within an hour something’s wrong. –Jim
Every breeder has their own ideas and their own management style including how they deal with difficult births. Here is what we do. We have had many quads and triplets over the years and when you have more than twins (sometimes even with twins) you can count on one or more of them being out of alignment for unassisted birthing. For example we have had 6 does birth already over the past three weeks and two had triplets and one had quads. With this history we attend all births. On numerous occasions we had had the head turned back, head forward and front feet tucked under, tail first, butt first, and back first, nearly always with birth canal jammed tight. We have never resorted to a C-section or had to put a doe down. One way or the other we dig the kids out while the other person restrains the doe. Granted, some cases present more of a challenge than others but we would never put one down. If necessary, in order to save the doe, I would dismember the dead kid and bring it out in pieces if I couldn’t get it out any other way. If I ripped the doe a little in the process I would stitch her up and treat her with antibiotics for a few days. I can’t think of a situation where I would destroy the doe.
The breeder may not be able to avoid the situation you describe, we have them here from time-to-time, but if you run into another situation like that please call me on your cell phone from the birthing area and I will talk you through it and if we start soon enough likely save the doe and kids both.
Noah and Sue Goddard
Purebred Nubian Dairy Goats
Grade A Dairy and Cheese Plant, LLC
Felecia sent me this link to Kinne’s Mini’s, a well organized website with very helpful articles.
Noah Goddard is one of the most helpful and kind ‘internet’ people I know. I was grateful for all the responses I got. Every one of them had a little different tid-bit of information that I, hopefully, will never have to use. It was also mini-class for Vet2Be. He learned alot from reading, too.