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
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
Sherry- (Raising saanens since 1976)
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
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
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