So your goats have done the nasty, but you don’t want to wait the one hundred and fifty days to find out if you will be welcoming new kids to the world. I get it. Waiting is terrible. Luckily you don’t have to.
We’re here to teach all signs to look for in your does to tell if they are pregnant. We even know a sure fire way how to tell if a goat is pregnant, and it is easier than you can possibly imagine.
So keep reading to find out how.
If you really need to know if your goat is pregnant, the most accurate way to know is to have a pregnancy test done. There are three main types of tests you can have performed to confirm your goat’s pregnancy, ultrasound, blood, and urine.
Contact your vet if you want to have an ultrasound done. They will use their ultrasound machine to scan your goat to confirm the pregnancy. Your vet can do the scan at the office, or some vets have a mobile ultrasound machine for farm visits.
Have the scan done early in the suspected pregnancy if you want to know how many kids there will be. As the kids get larger, it becomes more challenging to determine accurately how many babies there are. The ideal time for an ultrasound is between 45-85 days after conception (1).
Because a veterinarian provides this testing option, it is the most expensive testing option.
Blood Based Pregnancy Test
While ultrasounds can detect the number of fetuses, a blood based pregnancy test can only tell whether or not your goat is pregnant. However, blood-based tests can be easier and more affordable than an ultrasound.
You can perform blood based pregnancy tests as early as 30 days after you breed your goat.
All you need to do is buy an appropriate testing kit. You can get a kit from a local lab or purchase one online. The kit will contain all the materials you need to collect your sample. Once you have collected the blood sample, then simply mail it back to the lab. They will let you know whether or not you need to get ready for kids.
Urine Based Pregnancy Test
Just like a human pregnancy test you buy at the pharmacy, you can purchase an at-home pregnancy test for your goat. The same principles apply here — simply dip the testing strip in urine and wait for the positive or negative result. (I’ll leave it to you to figure out the urine collection part of the process).
Like the blood tests, there should be high enough hormone levels for an accurate reading a month after you bred your doe. These tests are affordable, and you can easily order them online. So if you really need to know if your goat is pregnant, this may be your best bet.
Now, if you don’t want to spring for a test, or they simply aren’t available where you are, there are other signs you can watch for that will help you tell if your goats are pregnant.
She Doesn’t Go Into Heat
One of the earliest ways to know if your goat is pregnant or not is to see if she goes into heat again. Does usually experience heat every 18-22 days during their season. While some goats are in season year round, like Boers, the majority of goats go into heat in the fall months.
So mark the date your bred your goats on your calendar. If a month goes by and your doe doesn’t go into heat again, chances are she is pregnant. This isn’t always the case, though. If you breed towards the end of the breeding season and she doesn’t get pregnant, she may not go into heat again until the following season.
By watching for these other signs you can get a better idea.
Change In Appetite
Just like pregnant women, you may notice a change in your pregnant does’ appetite. She will begin to eat more, which is to be expected since goats often have twins or even triplets. She may be eating for four!
If your doe is still in milk, you may also notice a decrease in her milk production after she conceives. If she doesn’t dry up naturally, you will want to let her dry up at least two months before the new kids arrive.
Touch Her Belly
When I was pregnant, people always wanted to touch my belly (and I hated it). But touching your goat’s belly can be a good way to check if she is pregnant. Normally goat bellies are pretty soft. But starting a couple of weeks after conception, they begin to tighten.
You can try and get a feel by placing your fingers on her belly in front of her udders. Let me tell you, if your goat isn’t used to being handled much, she may behave like any pregnant mother wants to do when a stranger touches her belly — so be careful.
If you spend enough time with your herd, you know each and every goat has their distinct personality. However, pregnancy hormones can change all that. Your usually affectionate goat may suddenly become standoffish. Or perhaps your goat typically wants nothing to do with you. If she suddenly comes running for snacks and attention, it can be a sign she is pregnant.
Does are not the only goats whose personalities change when they get pregnant. If you keep bucks in your herd, you may find his behavior changes after pregnancy, as well. Male goats instinctively know when does are pregnant.
Once your female goats are pregnant, you may find your bucks no longer want anything to do with them. It’s an age old story. Whereas once they were friendly and he couldn’t get enough of her, the buck is indifferent now that the deed is done.
Her Barrel Grows
Besides behavioral changes, you may notice physical changes in your pregnant goats as well. While it can be hard to notice at first, your doe’s barrel will grow. The barrel is located behind her front legs. Growth can be challenging to detect because goats have so many stomachs.
But if your measure your goat’s barrel weekly, you should be able to measure any subtle changes in size. And they will be subtle at first. The majority of the kids’ growth takes place in the final weeks of pregnancy.
Her Udders Bag Up
If this is your doe’s first time kidding, you may want to watch her udders. They should begin to grow during the gestation period. Now, when your goat will bag up, as it is called, varies from goat to goat.
Some goats bag up as early as six weeks into the pregnancy. Others may not bag up until days, if not hours, before the kids come. Either way, if your goat’s udders begin to bag up, you can be pretty sure she is pregnant.
The Kids Move
As we mentioned, the majority of the kids’ growth occurs during the final weeks of the pregnancy. That makes it difficult to detect motion in the early parts of gestation. But after the fourth month, the kids should be sufficiently large to be able to notice some movement.
The right side and belly in front of the udders are the best places to observe movement. By placing your hand there, you may be able to feel the kids move, especially if there is more than one.
Also, you can see in this video how to determine the pregnancy of a goat using ultrasound.
The most reliable way to know if your goat breeding has been successful is to do a goat pregnancy test. There are a variety of tests available, and most can be administered fairly early in the pregnancy.
However, if you don’t want to spring for a test, you can get a good idea if your goat is pregnant simply by practicing observation. By tracking your herd’s heat cycle, you can know when to expect them to be in heat. If they don’t go into heat during the next cycle, keep an eye out for physical and behavioral changes.
The further along the pregnancy, the more pronounced the signs. That being said, not all goats exhibit physical and behavioral differences during pregnancy. So it is possible that even the most closely watched goats can deliver a surprise baby if they have been exposed to a male during heat.
- Pregnancy Determination in Goats. Retrieved from: https://www.msdvetmanual.com/management-and-nutrition/management-of-reproduction-goats/pregnancy-determination-in-goats
Rachael and her husband arrived on Isla de Ometepe, Nicaragua in 2011. There they founded El Jardin de la Vida, a tropical micro food forest, focusing on Sustainable Living Education. She teaches others to build with natural materials, live off-grid, and appreciate slow food.