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Kidding Catastrophe:

Ariel Survives Sciatic Nerve Problem

By Miriah Reynolds

Rhode Island

My life has essentially revolved around dairy goats for almost 10 years now. Much of that experience and enjoyment has been centered around my wonderful Alpine doe Ariel. I got her when I was four years old and she is my best friend. Ariel is now 13 years old and we have been trying for three years to retire this old lady. However, she wants nothing to do with retirement. We have locked Ariel up in "Alcatraz" to ensure that she would not get bred for the past three breeding seasons, but every year we somehow fail to stem nature’s tide and she ends up pregnant. Last year (2009) was no exception.

Ariel, a 13-year-old Alpine.
Ariel, a 13-year-old Alpine.

We took her to get an ultrasound in January and she checked open (not bred). Woo hoo! We were thrilled that we finally were able to keep this little hussy locked up. At her advancing age, we just did not want her to go through the stress of another kidding. Our luck did not hold, however. Not even a week after the ultrasound, Ariel was caught in the pen with our buck. How she got there I still do not know. But five months later to the day, she kidded.

On a beautiful early June morning I walked into the barn to find Ariel cleaning and licking off her newborn buckling! I was so excited that she had freshened unassisted and her kid was alive and healthy! But I noticed, as I lead her into the proposed birthing stall, she was having a hard time walking. It seemed as though there was something wrong with her back. Ariel clumsily collapsed in the stall. It was a Sunday, so naturally the vet’s office was closed. I did all I could for her. Ariel, like any other goat, loves to eat. So I gave her a slice of birthday cake, hot water with maple syrup, grain, hay and maple leaves.

That next morning as soon as the vet office opened we took her in. Since her condition had worsened overnight, we put her on a blanket and picked her up that way. We were at the vet office for four hours, and I am so grateful for all they did to save Ariel’s life. My mom and I thought that the sciatic nerve was being pinched, and that was causing her inability to walk. We all thought that there was a deformed fetus still in her uterus so Dr. Balmforth did another ultrasound and thought the hind leg of a kid was visible. Immediately we brought her into the x-ray room. We laid her down on her side while they took a few x-rays. Nothing showed up except a build-up of feces and a paperclip. (Ariel likes to eat all of the show entry forms during show season, so the paperclip did not surprise me.)

Ariel's healthy kid
Ariel’s healthy kid

The vet decided to give her calcium to contract her uterus and that would work with the doses of pitocin given to help her expel whatever might still be inside. Pitocin can take anywhere from 30 minutes to 30 hours to work, so we planned on staying for a while.

Ariel had not defecated or chewed her cud in a few days. Due to the contracting effect of the pitocin, Ariel pooped quite a bit. We waited about two hours and the medications did not have any further affects. We were told to give her another dose that evening, plus six cc’s of penicillin for five days to make sure that she would not get an infection if there was a deceased fetus.

I could tell Ariel was already getting better once we got her home. I think it was the relief from all the poop she had built up inside. At this point, Ariel’s buckling was really hungry because he had not been able to nurse. When a kid nurses, the doe’s mammary system contracts the uterus, which puts pressure on the sciatic nerve, causing Ariel to collapse every time the kid was nursing.

That night I was worried about her so I slept in the barn to make sure that she would be all right. It was such a joy to hear the starving kid nursing away throughout the night without Ariel collapsing on him!

The next morning we took Ariel back to the vet office. He took out the intravenous tubes and reached inside her vulva to feel for another kid. Nothing was there.

To conclude this story, I would like to thank Dr. Balmforth and staff for taking care of Ariel and healing her. Ariel now has a little trouble walking, but she seems to be fine and healthy. She also still has a very healthy appetite. I don’t know exactly what happened to make her go down like that, but I do know she is alive and healthy today because of our vet’s advice and help. Maybe this experience will help me convince Ariel not to get into the buck pen again next year!

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