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Author Topic: A Prolapse Story  (Read 2497 times)

Womble

  • Joined Mar 2009
  • Stirlingshire, Central Scotland
A Prolapse Story
« on: April 06, 2018, 09:54:27 pm »
 Warning: This does not end well, and I’m posting it for (my!) education only. Do not read if you’re squeamish!!

Two days before we expected to begin lambing, I had a call from our neighbour early in the morning: “You’ve started, you know!”. Unfortunately elation soon turned to concern when I realised that what the ewe had hanging from her back end was not in fact a water bag, but a vaginal prolapse about the size of a grapefruit. This was one of our first timers, and in actual fact the first home grown lamb ever to give birth on our holding.
 
8am: I managed to get her inside, washed off the prolapse in warm water with a little hibiscrub, and gently popped it back into place. She almost immediately popped it back out again, so I fitted a prolapse spoon, which seemed to do the trick. 



11am: Ewe was observed straining as if in labour. Decided to leave spoon in place.

11.30am: Ewe definitely in labour. Prolapse re-appeared despite spoon still being in place. It was different this time though – a small black dot was visible in the middle, which I quickly identified as the opening of the cervix!  If I put my finger into the black dot, I could feel something that felt like a lamb’s jaw, but I could only get one finger inside the cervix.

Phoned the vet, who said get a hand in to stop her from turning herself inside out, and gradually work on opening up the cervix until you can get the lambs out.

12.30pm:  Managed to get three fingers inside. Called knowledgeable friend, who recommended a jab of Calciject 6 and some betamox. Administered both.  Kept working at it, trying to keep the cervix inside the ewe where it should be, and also working steadily with my hand to open things up.

3pm (yes, really!), finally managed to get my whole hand inside her, and could feel one head up against the cervix, but then the legs of another lamb forward in the birth canal. Couldn’t find the legs of the first lamb (I could only just get my hand inside), so I decided to push the first lamb back, and try to deliver the second one. Managed to get the second lamb’s head up and into a birthing position.

3.30pm: Tried to deliver the lamb, but ended up with its head and feet well and truly stuck in the cervix. Had a hell of a job trying to work the lamb out, but the ewe back as it were, to stop her from turning inside-out. Getting increasingly concerned by this time, I called the vet again (I’m getting quite good at one-handed dialling!). He agreed to come out and help, so I shoved the lamb back inside,  and went to the loo!

3.40pm: When I came back from the loo, the lamb was hanging out at a slightly different angle, and a bit further than before. Managed to pull the lamb out alive but exhausted. At least the ewe wants it, which is a bonus! Cancelled the vet!



3.50pm: Pulled out the second lamb, dead and had been for a little while from the look of its eyes.  Ewe seems ok though.
 
6pm: Afterbirth delivered. Lamb still weak. Milked Mum and tubed lamb. Will I ever play guitar again?  :o
 
8pm-midnight: All ok. Lamb suckling now. Ewe seems fine.
 
2am: Ewe has pushed out the prolapse again, and seems to be in some considerable pain. It’s ok girl! You can stop pushing now!  Washed and replaced it again. Re-fitted spoon. Probably should have used a needle and thread instead TBH.

3.30am: Ewe has pushed out the prolapse AGAIN, is in serious, serious pain actually enough for her cries to wake me up in the house! Also, it’s worse this time, as she’s pushed out the whole of her uterus, it's covered in dirt, and I can see the ‘knobbles’ that correspond to the bits you can usually see on afterbirth. Click here for a photo if you must!

3.45am: Shot ewe with .22 rifle. The loneliest, most desolate thing I’ve ever done (Remember, this is a ewe I watched being born two years ago). Cried buckets and cursed having given up alcohol for Lent. Brought lamb into kitchen. 

7.30am: Called Knacker

8.30am: Knacker arrived. Not bad for living in the middle of nowhere!

9am: Lamb is in kitchen and doing well. It’s cute as hell, and really well marked.

2 Days later: Noticed a single about to give birth. Ran and got kitchen lamb, tied its legs together with elastic bands, and took it outside in a poly bag, so that the ewe couldn’t see it. Penned ewe, and as her lamb appeared, still in its water bag, broke the bag over the orphan lamb. Then delivered her own lamb and wiped the two all over each other.

Presented Mum with the orphan first, and once she began licking it off, plonked her own lamb on top of it.



I’m really glad that’s over, and I so hope I never have to go through it again.
« Last Edit: April 06, 2018, 10:22:24 pm by Womble »
"All fungi are edible. Some fungi are only edible once." -Terry Pratchett

Womble

  • Joined Mar 2009
  • Stirlingshire, Central Scotland
Re: A Prolapse Story
« Reply #1 on: April 06, 2018, 09:56:16 pm »
So, Any idea what the hell happened there folks?  It's almost as if the lamb stuck its head up near her cervix, which then triggered her to start pushing a couple of days before she was ready!

Also why on earth couldn't she stop pushing after the lambs had been delivered!?!

I suspect it's one of those things I'll never really have an answer for, and that's ok. However,  if there is any learning to be had here, or anything I could / should have done differently, please do say so below, so we can all learn.
"All fungi are edible. Some fungi are only edible once." -Terry Pratchett

landroverroy

  • Joined Oct 2010
Re: A Prolapse Story
« Reply #2 on: April 06, 2018, 10:22:37 pm »
Womble- rule no 1 in keeping animals - where there's livestock there's deadstock. You did all you could for the ewe. Thankfully you were able to put her out of her misery when all else failed - something that I personally would be unable to do at 3.30am, not having a gun.


But don't beat yourself up. Sometimes stuff happens in spite of your efforts, and that's life. On the bright side however, you saved the lamb and managed to get it fostered onto another ewe, both not inconsiderable achievements in themselves.


Difficult to  know what you could have done differently to achieve a better outcome. Possibly if the vet had come then the ewe might have been sewn up and not prolapsed again after the birth, but who knows?


Why did she keep pushing after the lambs had been born? I would imagine because the prolapse will have felt out of place, like a foreign body. Maybe even feeling like another lamb waiting to come out, and the body just naturally tried to expel it.
Rules are made:
  for the guidance of wise men
  and the obedience of fools.

Me

  • Joined Feb 2014
  • Wild West
Re: A Prolapse Story
« Reply #3 on: April 06, 2018, 11:20:54 pm »
I assume they continue to push due to the swelling, pain and trauma caused by the whole event 

SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
Re: A Prolapse Story
« Reply #4 on: April 07, 2018, 12:30:16 am »
 :hug: :bouquet:  Bless you for putting her out of her misery so promptly.  I'm actually trying not to empathise too much because it's too close to home  :'(

My thoughts:

If I've understood correctly, the lamb whose head was against the cervix was the long-dead lamb.  Dead lambs are really difficult to give birth to, they don't help and don't move into position correctly.  Ewes often need help when it's a dead lamb.

From your description, the prolapse was probably caused by her pushing to try to eject the dead lamb, whose head against the cervix did indeed elicit that response.  But she wasn't in other respects ready to give birth, so a prolapse resulted. 

I think it wouldn't have affected the outcome, but wherever I've done more than simply pull the lamb whose legs were already externalised, I'd always give an antibiotic and CombiVit.  And with the amount of rummaging and opening up you'd needed to do, I'd want her to have anti-inflammatories and pain relief too. 

I've only experienced pre-parturition prolapses, and the majority have been fine; lambed through their spoons and not prolapsed after lambing.  I haven't personally experienced a post-parturition prolapse, but all the stories I've read on here have been bad endings whenever there's been a prolapse after lambing.  So I think yes, getting the vet to come would have been indicated.  You'd probably already decided not to breed from her again, but there was a healthy lamb she could and wanted to rear, and she'd have a value as a cull ewe after rearing and fattening. 

Whether it would have helped you I don't know, but the TV Vet book was strong on propping a prolapsing or difficult lambing ewe up with her back legs up your front and her head and shoulders laid on straw bales.  Gravity helps to keep everything where it should be, which makes more room - and time - for you to manipulate.


Great job with the adoption :thumbsup:   

And more  :hug:  :hug: because we've all been through it, and all will again.  Thanks for sharing the story so we can all learn from it.  :-*
Don't listen to the money men - they know the price of everything and the value of nothing

Live in a cohousing community with small farm for our own use.  Dairy cow, beef cattle, pigs, sheep for meat and fleece, ducks and hens for eggs, veg and fruit growing

Womble

  • Joined Mar 2009
  • Stirlingshire, Central Scotland
Re: A Prolapse Story
« Reply #5 on: April 07, 2018, 06:07:00 am »
Thanks Sally,

If I've understood correctly, the lamb whose head was against the cervix was the long-dead lamb.

I'm pretty sure that lamb was alive up until about 1.30pm, so maybe a couple of hours before I delivered it (it was sucking on my finger at 12.30, so definitely alive then). I think having my head repeatedly rammed into a closed cervix would probably have done me in too!

Dead lambs are really difficult to give birth to, they don't help and don't move into position correctly. Ewes often need help when it's a dead lamb.

Indeed. That was last year's joyous and severely malodourous discovery!  :-[

I'm still wondering whether I did right to cancel the vet or not. However, it was a Sunday afternoon, and they had a fair way to travel. So once the lambs were out safely and the ewe seemed comfortable, it seemed reasonable at the time to cancel. I'll take the point about the anti-inflammatories. Again, had it been any day but Sunday...

I did consider getting the vet out to attend the post-parturition prolapse, and would have done had she not been firstly in immense pain, and secondly had she not dragged the prolapse in the dirt so badly, having kicked all of the straw out of the way in her struggles. In the end, I'm happy with the decision there. Actually, I was very glad not to be waiting for an hour with her in that state, as I think the vet would probably have recommended having her PTS anyway - she was clearly not going to breed again, and was in a very bad way indeed.

Good point on the straw bales. I'll remember that for next time  :thumbsup: .


EDIT: One question - I wonder how this experience relates to, and contrasts with ring-womb? On the surface of it, it sounds quite similar, but what are the differences, and how do the treatment steps differ?
« Last Edit: April 07, 2018, 06:13:46 am by Womble »
"All fungi are edible. Some fungi are only edible once." -Terry Pratchett

SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
Re: A Prolapse Story
« Reply #6 on: April 07, 2018, 08:40:53 am »
1000% you did the right thing to shoot her when you did; absolutely better for her not to wait for the vet in that state.  But she'd prolapsed an hour and a half before that, so after lambing but at that stage all clean and not seeming to be in pain, and you'd refitted the spoon - that's when I think I would have got the vet.  Please don't feel criticised!   :hug:  Just you clearly want to see where you might do things differently another time, and, informed by this story and other post-lambing prolapse stories on here over the years, that would be one thing you might do differently if it happened again.  Certainly for me, with this story on top of all the others over the years, I think I'd get the vet every time if a ewe prolapses after lambing.  (Or shoot her, if it's clearly too late to save her or she's in great pain and it'd be a long time before the vet could get to her - and I had a gun and knew how to use it.  This ewe was lucky you do have a gun and did use it when you did.)

I think all of us would have cancelled the vet when you did (except for wanting the ewe to have anti-inflammatories and pain relief if you didn't have them to hand.). But - and again, please don't feel criticised!  you were doing what the vet had told you and making progress, so again, many of us would have worked on at it like you did - I'm not sure I would ever work on at a ewe for more than an hour tops without at least checking with the vet again, and certainly not if I'd felt a live lamb's head engaged in the cervix at the beginning of the story. 

I've had two cases of ring-womb proper, and a couple more where a first-timer ewe just needed a bit of encouragement to open up properly.  The first ring-womb we'd got the vet, so he told us it was ring-womb, and he worked on at it and showed us how to do it should it happen again.  It took maybe an hour to open her up, I think.  The second I recognised and did what the vet had showed us, and again, I don't think it took longer than about an hour.  Lots of lube and very gentle but firm persuasion.

On the
Quote
Again, had it been any day but Sunday...

I think we'd all have felt a bit of that.  But... forget what day of the week it is, the vets put on extra staff over lambing and expect to get called out.  Think only of you and your sheep.  Yes, weekend and overnight callouts are more expensive - but a telephone call is free (and see previous about disturbing their sleep.).  Those of us in the happy position of being able to afford to call out the vet whether it makes economic sense or not, should of course call the vet if the sheep needs attention, whatever.  And even if it doesn't make economic sense in this one case, vet fees are spread over the whole flock and the whole year - or even over several years, you get some years you need the vet five times during lambing and others when you never even call them - and, possibly as important as any other consideration... If it does all end badly, and you did call the vet, the agony of 'did I do enough, should I have got the vet' is, to me, financial justification for calling the vet in itself.  I suspect many of us are haunted for years by cases when we didn't get the vet, especially in the night, when, even if the outcome would have been the same, there'd have been a ewe in less pain / distress for less time, and we'd have not had to bear a lifetime's guilt. 

It was one of the things I admired and loved about ex-BH - he was a commercial sheep farmer, but if an animal needed veterinary attention, it got it.  After lambing, if the vet fees were exceptionally high, we'd sit down and analyse the reasons and what did we need to do differently next year to mean we needed the vet less (not put that tup to those ewes, more minerals in pregnancy, less cake before lambing, etc, etc.).  So I've seen several Caesarians in ewes, some delivering live lambs and some not, some where the ewe recovered fully and others not. 

Oh, and the other thing ex-BH would do is take a ewe to the vet, which saves money but also often time.

Again, please don't feel criticised, at all, and also cut yourself some slack - look at your story and the timeline, even if you'd known then what you know now, you were sleep-deprived, stressed and exhausted!  We can all make better decisions when we're rested, clean and fresh, and sitting comfortably in an arm chair with a mug of tea, not in the stress of the ongoing situation.  :hug: :hug:   
« Last Edit: April 07, 2018, 08:46:39 am by SallyintNorth »
Don't listen to the money men - they know the price of everything and the value of nothing

Live in a cohousing community with small farm for our own use.  Dairy cow, beef cattle, pigs, sheep for meat and fleece, ducks and hens for eggs, veg and fruit growing

landroverroy

  • Joined Oct 2010
Re: A Prolapse Story
« Reply #7 on: April 07, 2018, 10:14:22 am »


Whether it would have helped you I don't know, but the TV Vet book was strong on propping a prolapsing or difficult lambing ewe up with her back legs up your front and her head and shoulders laid on straw bales.  Gravity helps to keep everything where it should be, which makes more room - and time - for you to manipulate.



Same principle of getting the back end of the sheep raised to facilitate pushing a lamb or prolapse back - I find it easier to keep the ewe's shoulders on the ground but raise her hips onto a small bale (difficult to find nowadays!) or something similar. That way you've less chance of getting your face kicked in, straining your back (as the straw takes her weight), and by restraining the ewe with one hand have more chance of being able to move about a bit and grab nearby essentials.
Rules are made:
  for the guidance of wise men
  and the obedience of fools.

Womble

  • Joined Mar 2009
  • Stirlingshire, Central Scotland
Re: A Prolapse Story
« Reply #8 on: April 07, 2018, 10:43:52 am »
Thanks folks, 

Don't worry, I'm not feeling criticised - just trying to weigh things up with the additional info I have.

Edit:  Facebook just reminded me that we bought our first sheep four years ago today. Steep learning curve?  Honestly, I had absolutely no idea!!



In hindsight, it does seem strange to have waited that long before calling the vet back, but I did also have a couple of calls with my sister in the meantime (she used to be a vet), and everybody just said 'if she's going the right way, just keep working at it', so that's what I did.

Another interesting thing - I know many folks here would take an animal to the vet, but our vets really don't want that, and would far rather deal with everything on the farm. The same goes for routine things like blood tests or vascectomies.
« Last Edit: April 07, 2018, 11:24:37 am by Womble »
"All fungi are edible. Some fungi are only edible once." -Terry Pratchett

silkwoodzwartbles

  • Joined Apr 2016
Re: A Prolapse Story
« Reply #9 on: April 07, 2018, 11:07:39 am »
So sorry to hear this and thank you for sharing. Really pleased the adoption has worked out and like the others have said, don't beat yourself up.

My OH had a ewe this year go into premature labour (2 weeks early). He took her to the vet who delivered the lambs (both dead), administered painkillers, anti-inflammatories, antibiotics etc and we followed up as advised over the next week and then she dropped dead anyway. Sometimes even if you do get them to the vet, it doesn't end well and your ewe was lucky that you had a gun and were able to put her out of her pain as quickly as possible.

Marches Farmer

  • Joined Dec 2012
  • Herefordshire
Re: A Prolapse Story
« Reply #10 on: April 07, 2018, 11:46:06 am »
In the past I've worked at ringwomb for over an hour (my knuckles were red raw by the end) but now I've seen how effective the vet's meds are I call them for ringwomb I can't fix within ten minutes.  I'm not a great fan of using a ewe spoon and prefer to fit a harness.  I once had a Lleyn that prolapsed quite dramatically (despite being at the right condition score and carrying lambs of a reasonable size) and the vet came in and stitched her up then returned the following day when a waterbag appeared and did a Caesarian.  She jumped the hurdle of the mothering up pen as he left and died six hours later, probably because she bled out internally.  It's one of the reasons we sold all the Lleyns but it shows that sometimes you can't fix everything.

SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
Re: A Prolapse Story
« Reply #11 on: April 07, 2018, 12:37:01 pm »
I think we’ve all got “I fetched / called the vet and the outcome was the same, just more expensive” stories.  It can be tempting to think that therefore there’s no point calling the vet.   But in fact, of course, they are able to help often, just not always. And it’s like salt in the wound when you’ve spent an arm and a leg and she dies anyway :/
Don't listen to the money men - they know the price of everything and the value of nothing

Live in a cohousing community with small farm for our own use.  Dairy cow, beef cattle, pigs, sheep for meat and fleece, ducks and hens for eggs, veg and fruit growing

shep53

  • Joined Jan 2011
  • Dumfries & Galloway
Re: A Prolapse Story
« Reply #12 on: April 07, 2018, 01:19:06 pm »
Only thing I would have done differently is to give her oxytocin after lambing to tighten up the womb plus pain killer /anti inflammatory . At 2am then yes put in stitches  . The womb could have been cleaned and put back  but you made a decision and well done

Foobar

  • Joined Mar 2012
  • South Wales
Re: A Prolapse Story
« Reply #13 on: April 10, 2018, 03:08:33 pm »
Only just read this (I was half expecting a picture of the prolapse so I put it off! lol) - well done @Womble for coping so well.  I think it's a lesson for all of us really, showing an example of where vet meds earlier on would have helped (and that's not having a dig at you at all).

I've never had to deal with a prolapse and I hope I never do - but I saw my neighbour farmer deal with one, it wasn't pretty and took two big chaps to deal with it (big ewe), and they used a metal pig ear tag as an emergency stitch (ouch).  I dread having to deal with that sort of problem by myself.

I would get yourself a harness in case you ever have it happen again though, I've heard lots of stories about spoons by themselves not being enough - the harness creates more of a girdle to keep it all in.

Don't feel bad - you probably wouldn't have kept the ewe anyway, and the adoption has been successful.

Womble

  • Joined Mar 2009
  • Stirlingshire, Central Scotland
Re: A Prolapse Story
« Reply #14 on: April 10, 2018, 03:24:31 pm »
Thanks Foobar,

I have now bought a harness as well, because I do think it would have worked better.

I think it's a lesson for all of us really, showing an example of where vet meds earlier on would have helped (and that's not having a dig at you at all).

That's another interesting point, and one I can't shake from my mind.  We were in touch with the vet as soon as we knew there was a problem, but at no point did they suggest they needed to come out. I guess they're used to dealing with farmers who can handle this kind of thing on their own? It's not even as if they said "it's a shame you haven't got any X, or I'd have recommended that".

Perhaps I should have insisted on an emergency call-out? That's a difficult thing to call though, when they're saying "just keep doing what you're doing", and "you're doing all you can".

I think where I went wrong was assuming all was well after the lambs had been delivered - and indeed it was, for a full ten hours.......before going downhill really rather rapidly!

So, would I do anything differently next time?  Apart from fitting a harness after lambing, probably not. Unless the error of that is staring me in the face - in which case, do please say so!!
"All fungi are edible. Some fungi are only edible once." -Terry Pratchett

 

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