Pregnant Does and Kidding Signs

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

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.

Goats have ligaments that run alongside their spine and down to the tail head. There’s a good diagram found at FiasCoFarm that can help you locate these ligaments which feel a lot like pencils running on either side of the spine.

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.


4 Responses to “Pregnant Does and Kidding Signs”

  1. Stacey Lewis

    Checked out your blog, Naimhe, found this link…Love it…there’s too much to read…I thought I was the only one with a goat ready to kid at Christmas??

  2. NJ

    Oh no, Stacey, you aren’t alone. It’s one of Mother Nature’s little jokes on humans that goats prefer to kid when it’s nasty outside in the Northern Hemisphere. Consider it your Christmas present from Santa’s horned little helpers.

  3. Hello. Very nice Post. Not really what i have searched over Google, but thanks for the information.

  4. Sal Cirella

    Sitting waing for Este to Kid. Wish I new how to tell exactly when. Teats r sticking out sides. Nesting in barn face looks narrow…. When????


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All Things Goat was created by Naimhe Jeanne (Nee-Vah Jeen,) of Illinois, and Martha Ann, of Vermont, who believe in the humane treatment of goats whether they are pets or raised for milk, meat or fiber. Through news, profiles, recipes and editorials, All Things Goat illustrates how our caprine friends improve the quality of life for many worldwide. Our All Things Goat intern is Lela Perez, of Killeen, Texas.

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