This weekend was a good one. Saturday afternoon I headed to the Morton fellowship hall for the Washington young group invite. There were a pretty good amount of visitors which was nice. Then today I went to Washington church for the morning and then it was off for some deer work in the afternoon. A veterinarian from U of I vet school (hmmm, that sounds familiar!) was going to my mom's cousins house to inseminate six deer and I went to watch and help out. When I got there, this is what I saw:
These three does (female deer) have been tranquilized and are ready to go! There were three others that you cannot see in this picture also tranquilized and ready to go. They were tranquilized using this gun:
You can see the darts up above the gun and the two tubes to the right are the tubes that the semen is kept in when it is frozen.
Shortly after I got there, the veterinarian (along with a young veterinarian and a tech) showed up. It didn't take long and things were a-hoppin'. It was very obvious that the vet knew exactly what he was doing.
Here is the very beginning, these are the first two deer all loaded up and ready to begin the process:
The younger vet shaved the abdomen of the deer and gave lidocaine (a local anesthetic to help numb them) under their skin in their abdomen as well. She also gave some antibiotics under the skin near the ribs as well just to make sure they don't become infected.
Then it was off to the "surgery area" where the deer were flipped upside down on their stretcher, two small holes were cut into their abdomen, and a scope (used to view the inside of the animal) and a device to hold the semen tube were placed. Before they inserted the tubes into the holes, the doctor used air to blow up the animals abdomen so he would be able to see what he was doing. Then, he used the hole on the animal's left side for his scope and the hole on the animals right side to insert the tube containing the semen into the abdomen. He then proceeded to administer the semen directly into the uterine horns. This puts the sperm cells in close proximity to the egg cells to help ensure pregnancy.
Here you can see the deer flipped upside down on the stretcher:
Here is a deer with the two tubes sticking out of her:
Now the vet has the scope attached and is waiting for the semen tube to be handed to him:
Here he is now, administering the semen into the uterine horns:
He was very nice, he even let us all take a peek through the scope so we could see what he was looking at, which was kind of neat. Upon completion of the surgery, he removed the tubes, and stapled the little incisions closed. Then it was up to us helpers to lower the deer down, untie the legs, and carry the deer out of the barn and lay them down in the pen so they could receive a shot to reverse the anesthetic they had received. Here's just a couple shots I took as they were waking up:
Here's a photo I took of the fawns in their pen:
Here's a photo of a buck in the buck pen. He's a little difficult to see through the fencing. He has had his antlers removed (as all the bucks there have) as they can be kind of rough with each other when the females are in heat (as they currently are). So, the antlers are removed to try to avoid as much damage as possible.
So, after all the surgeries were done, we had to move a buck from one pen to another to be with one of the females which the vet couldn't perform the insemination on. After he was tranquilized, five or so of us helpers went in with a contraption to carry the buck on. We were told to hug the fence until we got straight across from the buck and then go straight to him. We did just that however when we got to him, he moved his legs and head and made some noise. Well, we were all green at handling deer so weren't exactly sure what exactly to do. "Throw a coat over his head" were the instructions shouted to us from outside the pen. So I took my sweatshirt off and put it over his head which worked! However, it was about this time that the other eight bucks in the pen went nuts. Instead of just going in the opposite corner of the pen they started racing around the pen, hurling themselves into the fence, and attempting to jump over it. The fence is around eight feet high and some of them were getting almost up to the top. While it really was an impressive sight to see it was somewhat unnerving as we were right smack dab in the middle of the pen and the deer were running everywhere going crazy. The vet was still there at that point and he shouted at us to get low and be as one, so we huddled close to the ground together. The deer did settle down then some, enough that we were able to remove the buck without us or any of the bucks getting injured. The people outside the pen said that it was very scary to watch, and was very nervewracking. Watching large deer hurl themselves against fences in desperation is quite intense, however it could be quite dangerous as well! It was something I won't soon forget! I will end this post with a picture of all of us that helped the deer owners with this escapade today:
It really was probably one of the neatest veterinary experiences that I have ever encountered. I will remember this day for a long time to come!