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Hermaphroditism

7/4/08

Although true hermaphroditism (where there are both complete ovaries and testicles present) is really quite rare, various forms of "pseudohermaphroditism" are rather common in goats. It is not our purpose here to describe all the various forms which this can take. Rather, in response to numerous requests, below are some photos of one of our "girls" who presented peculiarities of the female genitalia. At or soon after birth, we noticed that she seemed to have an enlargement below the vulva.

External view

A little later we noticed that there was a small strange "thing" that could be seen when the lips of the vulva were spread apart.

Internal view

A closer view clearly shows the reddish tissue which is most likely an enlarged clitoris or less likely something resembling a penis. This can frequently be felt easier than seen.

Close up

Of much greater significance is the possible presence of testicles within the abdomen. A close inspection of the abdomen will frequently find testicles nestled inside the lower abdomen. Unless these are removed, the animal will eventually behave like an intact buck. Affectionate or even aggressive behavior will be seen. Then animal is obviously useless as a breeder. Usually, the testicles are near the surface and can easily be extracted without anesthetic, similar to the castration of a normal buck. In other unfortunate cases, they will be more deeply embedded necessitating major and more expensive surgery.

One needs to decide early on what is to be the ultimate course of the unfortunate animal. Our Queen Bee pictured here was starting to become overly "friendly" toward us, so I had a local vet help remove the testicles. I held her on her back, semi-upright against my lap, and he was fortunately able to quickly pull the testicles through a small incision. No stitches were applied so that the wound could drain nicely. She healed up in a few days without incident.

Now she is a sweet "girl" who is a joy to be around and will be our friend for the rest of her long and happy life. I frequently apply a little udder balm to the skin below the vulva to keep mysterious discharges from crusting. Otherwise, she is no problem.

The other option is to slaughter them for food at a young age before serious hormone production starts to make them too obnoxious and odiferous to be around.



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