Thursday, February 17, 2011
A Rough Morning
This morning at 6:30 I was getting ready for work and heard a funny bleat over the baby monitor. I thought perhaps Purl was in labor, so I went outside to check. I opened the barn door to see Purl stooped and pushing. I was excited! Babies! As soon as I caught a glimpse of her tail end, I knew there was trouble. Instead of an amniotic sac or hooves, I saw a vaginal prolapse. Uh oh. Vaginal prolases are exactly what they sound like. The walls of the vagina get pushed out of the body. The ewe feels something "out there" and keeps pushing, which makes the prolapse worse. I've only seen one prolapse before, and that was on a 10 year old ewe from the campus farm when I was in college. Hers was only the size of a tennis ball, and had never gotten all the way out of the vulva. We used something called a bearing retainer, or spoon, and kept her from prolapsing more until she lambed. Purl is only 3, and her prolapse was about triple the size of a grapefruit.
I quickly got June and Darla out of the pen and returned them to the pasture. I ran inside and got a bucket of warm water and put some iodine solution in it. I haltered her and tied her to the fence and washed the prolapse. I tried to push it back in, but she kept pushing against me and trying to push it back out. I knew I wasn't going to be able to do it by myself, so I put in an emergency call to the vet.
The vet came a little while later and went to work. He gave Purl an epidural so she wouldn't strain and push the prolapse back out. Then we elevated Purl's back end using a dog crate (I didn't have any bales of hay or straw) so gravity would help things settle back in the proper place. He thoroughly washed the prolapse and slowly pushed it back into place. He waited a few minutes for her to settle down and stop pushing, and then he did a Caslick suture. Caslick sutures are stitches in the vulva to keep the animal from prolapsing again. Luckily he gave her a local anesthetic, but it still looked painful to me!
Purl won't be able to lamb with the stitch in, so I am on round-the-clock lamb watch. When she goes into labor I'll have to cut the stitch to let the lambs come out. Vaginal prolapses usually occur because of the pressure the lamb(s) are putting on the ewe, so hopefully once she lambs she won't prolapse again.
I spoke with her breeder and they've not had any prolapses from Purl's mother or other related ewes. Hopefully this is just a fluke. Some say once a ewe prolapses she'll do it again. I hope that's not the case. I'm going to give her one more try next year. If she prolapses again, I'll have to stop breeding her.
For now she's resting pretty comfortably. I hope she lambs soon though!