Although this event happened over a month ago, some may still find it interesting.
I am throwing in a disclaimer at this point. The pictures and descriptions that follow depict the stark realities of a birth by C-section. The picture quality is not very good – I apologize.
I have read on many blogs this spring and looked at many pictures of goats kidding and of cute new kids. These are fun to share and experience. However, to only see the miracle of natural birth and clean, cuddly kids only is to ignore the reality of farm life and the husbanding of the animals under your care. Although messy, it is no less a miracle of God, and no less interesting.
Kate is a three year old French Alpine who came to us from Texas as a first freshener. She is the goat pictured on the stand here. She has had her troubles and triumphs during her time with us as far as kidding goes but she has come through it all and actually become our star milker. One of the things which makes Kate unique among our goats is the fact that she has a deep body and carries her kids so well that we never really know if she has been successfully bred until she is actually in labor. Last year she kept us guessing until the day of her delivery and then had three beautiful kids. This year was no different! Even on the day she began streaming Janis and I were voicing our concern over the fact that we may not be able to milk her this year, but true to her form, labor started that afternoon. Now we are not of the opinion as some are, that we should just leave our animals to themselves to let things happen as nature intended. I believe God intended that we shepherd our flocks and look to their needs.
Be thou diligent to know the state of thy flocks and look well to thy herds. And thou shalt have goat’s milk enough for thy food, for the food of thy household, and for the nourishment of thy maidens. Proverbs 27:23, 27
After all they and their increase is a gift form the Lord.
And he will love thee, and bless thee, and multiply thee: he will also bless the fruit of thy womb, and the fruit of thy land, thy corn, and thy wine, and thine oil, the increase of thy kine, and the flocks of thy sheep, in the land which he sware unto thy fathers to give thee. Deut. 7:13
Well, looking to their needs includes watching over their delivery, as animals sometimes need a little (sometimes a lot!) of help. Our vigil with Kate began Saturday evening. We had been occasionally checking on her all afternoon and by late evening I was convinced that her time was eminent. I set a timer in our bedroom and rose from sleep every two hours all through the night and into the next morning. She was having a few contractions, but nothing of any significance and it drug on into Sunday. At noon Kate’s right flank hollowed as the kids moved into position in the birth canal. At 2:00 pm her left flank also hollowed. She had been streaming mucus for 24 hours. She had been scratching out nests in the stall and now did not want to stand. (goats deliver standing most of the time) All signs pointed to an immediate delivery and Janis and I began spending longer periods in the barn waiting. And waiting…and waiting. We went to bed and set the timer to rise each hour and a half. At 3:00 am I felt this had gone on long enough with no results and decided to see if she had dialate. What I discovered was what felt to be two sets set of hooves and no head (multiple kids trying to come at once, which of course cannot happen) . I also discovered that Kate had not dialated far enough to birth a kid. While checking her she gave the first real contraction of any significance. I hurried into the house to get Janis’ help as I knew we would probably have to go in and rearrange the kids in order for them to be able to pass. This is not a decision I would hurry into as it is possible to rupture the cervix or uterus wall and I do not want to do any damage, nor do I want to interfere where no interferance is warranted. But when it is needed, it is either go in and fix the problem, or both the mother and the kids will die. I tried massaging the cervix as Kate had her contractions in order to get her to dialate, but there was no change in several hours. I knew Kate could not pass this kid. At 7:00am I called the Veterinarian at his home for advise. He concurred she needed help. He arrived at 8:00am and checked her, confirming the fact that Kate was not going to dialate and would have to have a “C-section” to deliver. This decision in itself must be weighed heavily as it is expensive to perform and you must decide if the gains are worth the costs. I have no illusions about the fact that we are speaking about an animal, even if it is one we are attached to, and the decision to save it is not necessarily automatic – welcome to life (and death) on a farm. Kate, as I said before is our star milker, and at $6 plus for raw organic milk (if it was available in Idaho, which it is not) coupled with the possibility of multiple kids dictated intervention.
The Vet and I discussed where to do the operation and it was decided on the milkroom floor. This is not the first time our family members have had to intervene in a birth, but it was the first time we would need to do a C-section. I was quite surprised to hear the Vet tell that it could be done with the goat standing. This morning was an eye opener for us all. We would assist the Vet by holding Kate still while the doc did his thing. We were very interested to watch the whole process, especially Tyler I think, since he has had abdominal surgery in the past, but of course he was unconscious at the time. In fact my whole family watched with rapt attention as we conversed with the Doc. about the whole process. We found it extremely interesting! We are very thankful to Dr. Lewis for saving the life of Kate and her kid! I have included a few pictures and descriptions.
Shaved, swabbed and receiving “local” injection
1st cut through skin
Cut through muscle- then reach elbow deep inside to find uterus and bring it to the surface.
After the uterus was incised, it was found that two fetuses had died about 2/3 of the way through the pregnancy. They were mummified and very, very small.
After these two were pulled out, it was discovered that there was a third kid to be removed, but this one had obviously went the full term as it was full grown.
It was also still alive, which was a huge surprise after all the time that had elapsed since entering the birth canal. It had had a terrible struggle. Dr. Lewis removed it with Matthew’s assistance and Tyler took over the kid’s care. Kate decided she had had enough at this point and laid down on us.
dried and warming
Sewing up the uterus
“Hang in there, we’re almost done.”
Finishing touches. One tired doe! You can see the kid under the warming light in the corner.
“Take me to the recovery room…NOW!!!”
Here’s Latte today, healthy as can be! Kate is well too.