I have a soapbox! What? Another one? Ok, so I do have a plethora of soapboxes, but this is one that just makes me want to SLAP people!

Why is it that so many people think they have to "pull" a lamb, calf, or kid? That doing so is somehow NORMAL?

The fact is, doing so if the animal is not in distress is DAMAGING to your animal mamas, and virtually ALWAYS weakens their ability to give birth without assistance in the future.

It can tear vaginal tissue, overstress muscles, tear ligaments, and damage cartilage in the pelvis. It can CAUSE uterine prolapse, or contribute to it in the future.

One birth with someone forcing the exit of the baby before the mother's body is fully ready for it, can cause permanent damage, from minor, to fatal.

What makes us think we have to do it all for them anyway? They are better at it than we are!

How about you let an OB go rummaging around in you (or your spouse), grab a part and drag out whatever they find by whatever appendage they can get hold of? No? Good idea for an animal, but NOT a good idea for you or someone you love? Doesn't that tell you something?

(No, animals are not people, and we do not confuse them with people. But in the case of birth, there is little difference in the process, and what is, and is NOT a wise habit in regards to it!)

Except in EXCEPTIONS with good breeding stock, pulling a baby is NEVER necessary!

If you routinely HAVE to do so, you either have BAD breeding stock (genetically flawed - frequently the case with show lines, unfortunately), or you have animals that have previously been damaged by ignorant handling.

I first encountered this flawed assumption many years ago on the website of a "goat expert". She discussed birthing on a whole page of her site (which too many people have taken as being credible, sadly). She talked about being on "labor watch" as though disaster was sure to ensue if she was not there to PERSONALLY prevent it! She said every time her goats went into labor she would grab her "birthing kit", and go out and render assistance. She described what a goat owner "needed to do" (in her opinion) when a goat gave birth, and showed pictures. Her instructions included grabbing the legs as soon as they gave her enough to get hold of, and forcibly pulling the baby out! I was beyond appalled!

I grew up with goats. I remember one bad night, ONE... in all those years, when one of our goats really did get in trouble giving birth. She had been laboring with a mal-presentation far too long. My sister, an avid reader of James Herriot, and a studier of animal husbandry, carefully explored to see what the problem was, and did her best to straighten things out. She managed to help the doe get the kid out. The doe died. Cause wasn't certain, but my sister was very careful. It still ended in disaster.

That was the ONLY time anyone had to give aid to any of the goats. Most of the time, we would come out in the morning and find a mama and kids acting like nothing was out of the ordinary, when there had just been a pregnant goat the night before.

We never EVER even HAD a "birthing kit" for goats!

We had hoof care, disbudding irons, syringes, medications, wormers, and all sorts of other things (many of which we do not now use), but never even CONSIDERED a "birthing kit". We raised and showed goats for many years. Lots of goats.

The most agregious example of unwarranted interference I have ever seen is in a video that regularly makes the rounds (sadly it makes them on Homesteading groups with comments of "oh how cute", by people who OUGHT TO KNOW BETTER!).

A little dimpled darling of all of three years old is featured in this video, pulling a lamb.

Now, there are MANY things wrong with this, only ONE of which is that it is TOTALLY inappropriate for a three year old to risk broken bones sticking their hand into the pelvis of a laboring ewe! Yeah! That! It is not a remote possibility! Contractions are that strong!

Apparently though, when a three year old acts in a dangerous and stupid manner, people will applaud it as "mature", and "brave", and "darling". If an adult did the same thing she did, they would label them as "cruel", "stupid", and "unsanitary".

First off, she trots in and lifts the tail, and sticks her hand inside a sheep that has just delivered a lamb, and is RESTING before the second lamb is ready to present. The ewe actually shows no signs of pushing contractions the entire time this child is mucking around. She is obviously NOT READY to birth the second lamb, and the fact that the child has to stick her arm in nearly to the shoulder to find a pair of feet is also evidence that the lamb is NOT ready!

Second, her little hands are going from inside the sheep, to the floor, to the tail, and back inside that sheep! Who in their right minds would encourage such a thing? This is the stuff uterine infections are made of! Yet her parents stand by filming the whole thing, proud of their little destroying angel!

Third, she drags the lamb out regardless of any preparedness or participation on the part of the ewe! Poor mama sheep! It is clear that the lamb was NOT stuck, did NOT have a complicated presentation, and was in NO WAY in need of being dragged into the barn by an incompetent child. The lamb also shows no signs of distress, further indicating that there was NO reason to have a child shove filthy hands inside the uterus of a sheep!

Fourth, if the sheep were having contractions, that little girl would have got hurt! At the very least, her arm would have been squeezed hard enough to cause her to cry. At the worst, it could damage nerves, or break bones!

Fifth... If the sheep were in TROUBLE (There is no indication she is, she's placidly laying there, and there are no indications of distress.), then it was NO PLACE FOR A CHILD to be mucking around! That needed an ADULT who knew what they were doing! Someone with the knowledge to carefully assist the sheep, without just dragging the lamb out! No three year old is capable of assessing a potentially complex presentation, determining the way to correct or compensate for it, and then carrying out a difficult balance between the ability and health of the sheep and the safe delivery of a lamb who may also be in distress. 

If the sheep is not in trouble, she should NOT HAVE BEEN IN THERE. If the sheep WERE in trouble, she should NOT HAVE BEEN IN THERE!

No, it is NOT cute.

Yes, it IS irresponsible and stupid.

Poor kid is going to grow up thinking this kind of thing is good animal care. Poor animals that come under her care - and that of her parents! Yes, I'm making that judgment! Her parents' filming of the debacle and broadcasting it across the internet has invited it!

I'd be teaching a kid by talking to them while I was working with trouble situations while they were little. Let them start assisting at about 9-10 years of age when they are old enough to have the intellectual capacity and physical strength to handle the difficulties.

Don't PULL a calf, or a kid, or a lamb, or a cria, or anything else unless the laboring mother is in distress, and the baby is at risk!

Don't do it! You will HARM the animal rather than help!

And by the way, don't dry off the babies either! As long as they are born where they won't freeze to death before the mama licks them off, LEAVE THEM ALONE! Her care of her babies in the first few minutes of life is important to her, and to the babies.

There. I think I've said it.

*steps down from soapbox*

For now.

Coddiwomple Farm is located the United States.