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Special delivery: What to do when a pregnant goat shows up at your door
Trying to find time to sleep as a veterinarian is hard enough—especially when a family shows up on your doorstep in the middle of the night with a veterinary emergency.
When the doorbell awakens you at 1 o’clock in the morning, it takes a few minutes to get your brain working again. My first instinct was that it was my alarm clock, so I reached over and rapidly hit the snooze button. When the noise persisted, I slowly began to realize that the dinging sound was no ordinary alarm. I hopped out of bed and fumbled with my britches as I stumbled down the hall toward the front door. As I approached the living room half-dressed, my mind was racing as to what was waiting for me beyond the doorbell.
I opened the door and to my surprise, a man, a woman, and their 6 children greeted me with wide smiles and a very pregnant goat.
“Our goat is having trouble delivering,” the man stammered anxiously. “Are you able to help her out?”
Oh boy, here we go.
Not quite a stork delivery
After digesting the request, I removed the sleep from my eyes and began examining ol’ Tiny, the pregnant goat. She fit her name perfectly. She was a little bitty goat in stature but large in the belly, as big around as she was tall. I went to the pickup truck to retrieve a palpation sleeve and some lube. I began reaching inside Tiny to see if the babies were ready to be born when she let out a bone-jarring scream. All I could think about was the neighbors. What were the neighbors going to think with a noise like that coming from next door?
At that point, it looked like the only option was to invite the family in and deliver the baby goats in the house. Though I would have preferred taking them to the clinic, time was of the essence, and I did not think Tiny was going to make it unless we acted fast.
This ain’t no goat yoga
Here’s the situation: it is the middle of the night, and I am about to deliver baby goats in my living room under the watchful eyes of a family of 8. The 6 children ranged in age from 1 year to 12 years. This should go smoothly, right?
I had felt enough when palpating Tiny to know that her babies were going to have to come out by cesarean section (C-section). The garage was out of the question due to countless piles of junk from my family’s recent move. The next best location was the kitchen. Now, I knew that I’d never hear the end of it from my wife if a single strand of goat hair touched the kitchen floor, so I spread newspaper—several layers thick—over the ground and went to work.
Luckily there was enough equipment left in the “vet box” of my pickup truck to perform the surgery on Tiny. I laid her down, clipped and scrubbed the surgical site, and gave her the proper anesthesia. It was then I noticed that one of the children had slipped into the dining room and was standing on the table.
I decided to ignore the child and focus solely on the goat. Every slice with the scalpel brought a chorus of “oohs” from the spectators. They were asking questions about the surgery faster than I could answer. Remember, about 10 minutes prior I had been fast asleep, wholly unaware that I was about to do a C-section on a goat in the kitchen while a child danced on the table and a family shot a million questions at me.
Adding more kids to the equation
Amid the chaos, I was finally able to deliver the first baby, which I then handed to the husband and wife to dry off with a T-shirt from the laundry room. I dried off the second baby using all the paper towels on the roll hanging under the counter. The last baby was dried off with 2 dish towels and a pair of socks fresh from the dryer that evening. I used my daughter’s little blue nose-sucker thing to remove the fluid from each of the infant goats’ mouths and throats.
So far, everything was going well. The 3 babies were all alive and Tiny was doing just fine. However, I then became aware that all the commotion had brought Kerri, my wife, in from the bedroom. She was standing at the doorway with one eye on the child standing on the table and the other on the goo flowing across the kitchen floor.
Picture this: the woman of the house standing in her robe, hair pushed into rugged piles on her head, puffy eyes from awakening from a deep sleep, trying to imagine why in the world she had married a veterinarian.
I felt a lump in my throat as I tried to conjure up a story of how all this had happened. Just as I was about to say something, the family started thanking my wife repeatedly for letting them use our house to save their goats. Those little children were holding the baby goats with pure love in their eyes.
There was a faint smell of goat in the house for a couple of weeks after the ordeal. My wife trashed the T-shirt and socks while I had to mop the kitchen floor several times to get up the goo. If any neighbors had heard the scream, they never said anything. The footprints on the table came off over time and Tiny went on to birth several more litters of baby goats.
Bo Brock, DVM, owns Brock Veterinary Clinic in Lamesa, Texas.