Dr. Nathan Carlton, DVM
A recent morning started as usual in the clinic. We had two routine surgeries scheduled, when a client called with an urgent request. She had a young goat that was in labor with her first pregnancy and it wasn’t going well.
This client had already loaded the mama goat and was inbound, trailer in tow. I was finishing up the first procedure when I saw a truck and trailer tear into the parking lot and come to a jerking halt in front of the clinic.
I left my patient to recover with our surgery tech and met the client whose goat was in trouble. She led me to the back of the trailer where the goat was standing there vocalizing, one tiny hoof hanging out her backside. After a quick hello to the owner, I palpated the goat to figure out what the problem was. The kid had one front leg forward, one back, and the head was turned around like it was looking behind him for his little sister. After some pushing and repositioning, I was able get the first kid out, and then I started on the second. The mama goat was in serious distress; she was breathing heavily, vocalizing, and she collapsed to lateral recumbency. I needed to get the kid out quickly!
The second goat kid was in a normal position, and, to everyone’s relief, came out smoothly. I held the slippery little bundle in my hands and looked up at my client as relief washed over her face. The client was grateful not to have lost her mama goat, but the kids had been stuck for too long and were stillborn. The owner thanked me and I carried on with my last surgery of the day.
Difficulty birthing a kid is called dystocia. The incidence of dystocia is considered low in small ruminants like goats and sheep. The reasons goats can have a problem kidding are the same as they are for people: maternal causes include failure of the uterus to push out the kid (uterine inertia), failure of the cervix to dilate, and narrow pelvic canal; fetal causes include fetal oversize, and fetal malposition to name a few.
In this case, the fetus was in a bad position blocking up mama like logs in a creek. To determine if your goat or sheep is having a hard time with delivery, remember the 3-30 rule:
1. If the ewe or doe has been pushing for 30 minutes and has not made progress in expelling amniotic fluid and some membrane, then she should be examined;
2. If the female is behaving normally and pushing after expelling some membrane then wait at least 30 minutes before instituting any treatment or calling the vet;
3. Wait 30 minutes after the last kid/lamb has been delivered and check her for a last fetus by palpating her abdomen. If your ewe or doe is panting, straining with a foot hanging out, or she has been pushing for an hour without producing a fetus, call the vet.
Jarrell Animal Hospital
191 Town Center Blvd. Jarrell
JarrellAnimalHospital.com and Facebook
Dr. Carlton will share news and views for your pets and animal friends as a regular writer for City Insider. Send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org
After graduating from Michigan State University College of Veterinary Medicine, Dr. Carlton served four years in the United States Army as a Veterinary Corps Officer. Stationed at Fort Hood, his patients included the Military Working Dogs of Air Force Security Forces, Army Military Police, Army Rangers, Special Forces, and the Marines. While serving as an Army veterinarian, he also was the vet for the horses of 1st Cavalry Division. He honed his clinical skill set working on these unique animal populations, and now brings that special knowledge to the community at Jarrell Animal Hospital. Dr. Carlton is a member of the American Association of Bovine Practitioners, American Association of Equine Practitioners, Texas Veterinary Medical Association, and he continues to serve in the United States Army Reserve.