Pregnant Does and Kidding Signs
Tis the season for kidding in the goat world. Unless you plan and monitor your breeding program, you may not be sure when the little ones are expected or even if your does are pregnant.
Kidding time is an exciting, sometimes nerve wracking time often filled with anxiety and confusion. Why? Because unless you plan to ultrasound all of your does, there’s no clear-cut, defining way to know if your doe is pregnant or when those babies are coming.
The most common way to determine if a doe is pregnant is through “bumping” or “bouncing”. It’s not very scientific but is the method used by many vets in lieu of ultrasound.
To bump a doe, the bumper straddles the goat while facing toward the doe’s behind, wraps her arms around the doe placing hands just in front of the udder and behind the rumen, and pushes upward, or bumps. If resistence is felt or something bumps back, the doe is pregnant.
Somewhat less scientific than bumping is the squooshy tail method. In order to check for a squooshy, or soft, tail, you should know what the tail webbing of an unpregnant goat feels like. If the underside of the suspected pregnant goat is noticeably softer, or squooshy, than the other goats, she is probably pregnant.
Determining when the doe is ready to kid isn’t much more technical. The udder will begin to fill in but in some does, that doesn’t take place until a day or even an hour prior to birth. In some does, the udder doesn’t fill in until right after birth so it really depends on the goat.
When the doe is ready to give birth, the ligaments will loosen and become difficult to feel. Check the ligaments on an unpregnant or male goat so you know what they feel like; then you can start checking the pregnant doe to see when hers disappear. Kidding usually takes place within 24 hours of the loosening of the ligaments.
As the moment arrives, there will be a clear discharge which begins to color once the doe goes into labor. Some does will talk to their kids prior to kidding. Some become restless or paw at the ground.
A normally friendly goat may decide she doesn’t particularly like you anymore; this is temporary but can be a good indicator. She may become more vocal or go off of her food. Urination may increase. Every doe is different so it’s a matter of getting accustomed to your does and their individual signs.
For a lighter look at pregnant goats and kidding, see Goat Tails.