Question for my Livestock-knowledgeable Readers

Sharon September 16th, 2009

(Just fyi, if you are squeamish, you might want to skip this post.)

So Selene and Tekiah are doing great, happy and healthy so far, but I’ve one major concern – instead of fully expelling the placenta, as we were told to expect, the remnents of it are still hanging out of her 24 hours later.  I obviously know better than to touch or pull on it, but I’m wondering when I should start being concerned about retained placenta causing an infection.  Does this require a trip to the vet (expensive and to be avoided if possible, plus then I get goat placenta in my car ;-) )?  An injection of an antibiotic?  Nothing?  I’ve googled and have seen all of these answers.  I’d love some advice – otherwise, everything is going beautifully.

 Thanks so much!


34 Responses to “Question for my Livestock-knowledgeable Readers”

  1. MEA says:

    Have you tried calling you cooperative extention and getting in touch with the 4-H goat people?

    Only thing that come to mind — and since goats have udders not breats (and so, you know, milk production is bit different) how hard is Tekiah sucking?

  2. Wiht the sheep, sometimes – not often – it takes quite awhile for things to clear out. I was really worried about one of mine this year, she was bleeding for a good day after delivery … but it settled down, and she had no fever, and was nursing well and the lamb was fine, so we were in the clear. I did keep her in the barn so I could check on her easily.

    My suggestion would be to take her temperature and record it, every oh, 6 hours or so? and just keep an eye on her. If it spikes, give her some antibiotics and keep the shots up for at least 5 days, preferably seven. There are also intrauterine boluses you can use, if you think there’s an infection in the uterus, but you’ll see nasty guck that smells wrong if that’s the case. Clean blood and placental matter is not a problem, so long as it all makes it’s way out. :)

    Since the one goat baby was dead (and maybe dead in utero), sometimes that causes issues, as does any required intervention (same as with humans, you know how all this goes, I’m sure), so you will definitely want to watch her. Some people would give a shot or two of long acting pennicillin to be on the safe side, but I like to leave them be unless there is a problem – so I’d just do the temperature watch and give her a chance to clear it all out on her own.

    Please take all this with a grain or two of salt – I’m still fairly new to this myself, but this is what’s worked in our (sheep) universe. :)

    Oh, you can give her some molasses in her water, for an energy boost, too. Just a bit, but the sheep sure seem to like it and I always feel better knowing they got a bit of an extra boost. I remember how badly I wanted a slurpee after labour was overwith! :)

  3. nika says:

    I assume you have looked over the info at the Fias Co Farm site –

    As per “The goatkeepers veterinary book” by Peter Dunn
    if high temp (greater that 39.5 C) call vet for urgent care

    doe should clear placenta within 3 hours, if its been 14 hours or more call the vet.

  4. nika says:

    yeah I second the molassas (peri-labor and post) – wards off ketosis but not really helpful for retained placenta per se

  5. Kim says:


    I wouldn’t wait too much longer before at least calling a vet. Mine will usually those types of questions without charge and without inviting me in for a visit.

    I’ve had sheep and goats for over 12 years now. If she were my goat — I’d call. Normally the placenta is out within just a few hours. I’ve never had one go 24 hours. Are you certain it is placenta? Some of the discharge is rather heavy looking.


  6. rdheather says:

    My 2 cents-from the one goat that I allowed to give birth naturally-was it takes a few days for the placenta to make it’s way out. There were gross bloody swipes on the pen walls but she acted fine and the baby was nursing.

    I like the taking temperature advice from Apple Jack Creek. I’m going to use it next time.

  7. fireflyfibergirl says:

    If the goat has membranes hanging out 24 hours after delivery (versus blood clots from delivery)and you have not found the placenta; the goat has a retained placenta. The goat needs antibiotics & a shot of oxytocin to cause uterine contractions which will expel the placenta. Antibiotics will cover possibility of infection. You need to call the vet & explain the situation & then pick up antibiotics/oxytocin/syringe/needles.

    From the Merck Vet Manual:

    “In does and ewes, the incidence of retained fetal membranes increases with larger litter sizes and with assisted parturition. Systemic treatment to guard against infection and gentle traction on exposed membranes may be used. In sows, retained placentae are contained within the uterus and are not visible at the vulva. In this species, entire fetuses may be retained. Usually, the fetus or membranes decompose in situ. This may be accompanied by signs of systemic illness and a purulent vaginal discharge. Although serious or fatal sequelae occasionally occur, the prognosis for recovery and future fertility is surprisingly good. Oxytocin and antimicrobial treatment are indicated.”

    My vet did not recommend manual traction of the placenta. Good luck.

  8. Kelsie says:

    You could try feeding her a bunch of raspberry leaves–that’s a good herb for helping to expel the placenta, and it would be a great post-labor meal for her. :)

  9. rdheather says:

    An addition-after the three c-sections(panicked newbie owner caused) the vet said to expect discharge for up to a week.

  10. Kim H says:

    If you are sure it is the placenta, then the vet needs to be called. If it is blood clumps common after kidding or birthing, just keep an eye. You have already received lots of good advice. Let us know how it goes.

  11. Karin says:

    We had a eww that had a still birth this past spring. She had a long labor and the lamb came out head first. WE called for help from another farmer who told us how to get the lamb out and then call the local large animal vet for a “pep up” shot. Essentially a vitamin B shot, an antibiotic and something like oxytocin to help her expel her placenta. It was only 20 dollars and we were grateful for the advice because we saved the ewe.

  12. Sharon says:

    Thanks so much all – she’s definitely got the placenta still hanging out of her, it isn’t just blood clots. It sounds like we need to call the goat vet.

    I didn’t do any internal investigation on the kid – she birthed him dead, but fairly quicklly, so I didn’t feel like it was a good idea to go in, so that, at least is the case.


  13. Denise Roth says:

    Sharon: I emailed a copy from the University of Illinois Extension on Goat delivery which contains some information about this problem.

  14. vegan says:

    Sharon, I’d definitely call the vet.

    Good luck and enjoy the babe!

  15. MEA says:

    And keep us posted — in your copious spare time, that is.

  16. Yep, if it’s definitely placenta after all this time, a vet call’s a good idea … it’s been a day and a bit, now, so blood and clots, maybe, but placenta, yeah, that’s worth a call.

    Let us know what you find out – it’s always good to learn from one another! :)

  17. Sharon says:

    I called my goat mentoress, and she suggested raspberry leaves, and regular temperature taking, but no vetting until tomorrow morning. She says as long as the majority of the placenta was passed, that she’s seen the cord take a little longer to detach. I’m going to do that, and as long as Selene doesn’t spike a fever, just watch very closely and give her a ton of raspberry. I don’t have the ability to *do* much at the moment if I do call a vet, since I’m carless until tonight, although Eric would cancel class if it were absolutely necessary.

    Thanks folks,


  18. MEA says:

    Where is Mr. Herriot when you need him?

  19. Sharon says:

    Yeah, I need a kindly Yorkshireman right now. Eric called the vet and the vet was *very* reassuring – basically said that this kind of retained placenta is common, not serious and should pass. He seconded the raspberry leaves, and suggested that we simply take her temp a couple of times a day and call if she shows any sign of infection. I’m very relieved!


  20. Good news! I wouldn’t have thought of raspberry leaves, that’s a great idea (I’ve been sending my son out gathering them from the wild plants in the area for tea for myself … I’ll have him get a few more for lambing season!).

    Thanks for sharing the updates … I learned something … and, well, I care about your goats ’cause you do! :)

  21. ej says:

    Sheep eat the placenta/afterbirth – perhaps goats would, too?
    So not finding it doesn’t mean it wasn’t there.

  22. Jerry says:

    Sharon, please do not take the goat to a vet just go out and buy a 100cc bottle of penicillin, some 18gauge one inch needles, a few 12cc syringes and give the goat a shot in the muscle. Please warm up the penicillin before using it, observe the withdrawal time for milk for human consumption, and treat the goat for at least a week. The dosage amount will be based on the goat’s weight but it is very hard to overdose an animal with penicillin. Six or seven cc’s should be enough if the goat weighs 100 lbs. Uterine infections are a lot easier to prevent than they are to treat and the goat will probably breed back easier.

  23. Mary says:

    Call the vet and ask. In humans, fetal death in utero is often complicated by a placenta that has lost some of its integrity before birth, ie, it has calcified and doesn’t separate from the uterine wall. If you saved the placenta that came out, you can check it for completeness. Since the kids were different genders, they had to be dizygotic–and there should be two separate placentas. I wouldn’t stick my hand if I were you, but massaging the uterus externally sometimes helps with both separation and expulsion. Call the vet. She doesn’t need penicillin because it doesn’t sound like she has an infection–discharge smells awful. But if she has a retained placenta her uterus can’t shrink back down and clamp down all the blood vessels that hypertrophied to nourish the placenta. I’d try oxytocin first, ergotamine would be the herbal analog.

  24. Mary says:

    OOps, I should have read the whole thing before commenting.

  25. Ellen Anderson says:

    The placenta should be out by now. First fresheners are scary, I think. I would certainly call a vet. Everyone says that goats are hardy and healthy but I find them a bit delicate. Until you have some real experience you shouldn’t feel badly about calling for professional help. It is worth the price not to loose your doe.

  26. Sharon says:

    Mary, don’t apologize – I really appreciate the advice. And EJ, she did eat much of the placenta, but what’s hanging out she hasn’t eaten ;-) . The vet really told us not to worry about this, so I’m not, but I’m very grateful for the information.

    Oh, and this is Selene’s second kidding. Jerry, thanks, I’ll do as you say if she spikes a fever. So far, she looks good.


  27. Kathryn says:

    I haven’t had time to fully read all the resopnses you have received, but here on our small organic Jersey dairy, we find homeopathic Caulophyllum Thal, in doses throughout the day, really does help move these situations along. Sometimes several days of treatment are needed, but it usually encourages the body to act long before the first heat would come due. Then you have a better chance of getting her bred again quickly. These sort of things don’t happen very often, but the sooner you begin treatment, the better. We use 30C. If the placenta stays in a few days, we usually begin Pyrogenium to help her deal with the degrading tissue.

    Good luck.


  28. Lori Scott says:

    Goats and molasses! As you know, Australia is drought stricken most of the time. In the last drought, we supplement fed our goats on cardboard boxes with molasses poured over them. This was a real treat and they loved them! Of course, we weren’t milking at the time – just aiming to keep them alive.

  29. Got here late, ditto what Kathryn wrote, Caul, and follow up with Pryogenium. And maybe Pulsatilla if there is a creamy discharge later. She should be able to reabsorb any matter, if she is otherwise in good health.

    Caul is good to give several days prior to birthing too, just to help the uterus for the big job ahead.

  30. Heather says:

    Probably no help in this instance, but when i was reading up on home births, in one of the midwives forums, one mw said that her mentor, an older and very experienced mw always gave her ladies a BIG drink of lukewarm water (2+ cups) immediately the baby arrived in order to help deliver the placenta, and was quite open that she had learned it from an old farmer used to birthing livestock. Responses from those who tested it were very positive, so perhaps one to file under “a pinch of prevention”?

  31. Sharon says:

    Thanks all for the advice. Selene passed the placenta yesterday, and is looking good! I’ll definitely remember all of this for our next kidding – Maia will probably be at it in a few days. I’m just hoping she waits until after Rosh Hashana – but that probably means that due to Murphy’s influence on the earth, she’ll have it during the holiday dinner ;-) .


  32. nika says:

    Our goats are LaManchas so kidding season is when its snowing and damn cold (spring around here). We literally spent MONTHS on high alert, listening for sounds of amiss-ness.

    The goats KNOW when you are trying to keep a close eye and will wait until you relax a bit and actually think about eating undisturbed (as much as is possible with a toddler) and then BAM – they go into labor, driving snow, the goat wailing like its dying a horrid death.

    Some dont wail at all, you go out, you see new babies, the mom looks at you like “What.. what are you looking at”.

    This was our first year and we lost our first doe to deliver – story here -> (GRAPHIC AND NOT FOR FAINT OF HEART OR VEGETARIANS)

  33. Deborah Jordan says:

    I found this post late, but I wanted to reccommend pay coleby’s book Natural Goat Care to you. She tells you what minerals deficiencies or imbalances are behind different goat ailments and how to prevent them. She uses high doses of vitamin C for retained afterbirth when it occurs.

  34. really honored to hear about that. you’ve encouraged me a lot. thanks for your admiting my blog. have a nice day :-P

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