How To Know if You Have a Pregant Doe

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Breeding goats can sometimes be tricky business. You may find that you played all your cards right and still had a hiccup in the process. That dreaded hiccup can unfortunately come in the form of a doe you hoped and thought was bred turning up open, which is not the most pleasant of surprises.

Though it pays to be vigilant, the fact of that matter is that it is sometimes tough to know for certain that does have been successfully bred. Though other livestock animals can be palpated for pregnancy during a physical exam, determining if a goat has settled is generally done via ultrasound. This can be difficult if you do not have a travelling vet that is so equipped and prefer not possibly stress does during transport into a vet's office for an ultrasound. With this in mind, many of us prefer to watch and wait, but for what are we watching?

The first thing to watch for is signs of heat. Does will cycle right about every 21 days, so keep track of when normal cycles occur and at what exact interval for each doe. If you are expecting a heat cycle but do not see the physical signs (tail wagging, discharge, lingering near the buck), it is possible your doe is bred. However, it is important to keep in mind a couple of things. For one, it is possible that pregnant goats may have a false heat which is a good way to fool us into thinking they are not bred. Secondly, sometimes it is possible to miss the signs for various reasons. You could be having a busy week and or inclement weather may be putting a damper on your does' willingness to flirt. Therefore it is safe to say that a halt in the heat cycles are a good indication of pregnancy but certainly are not a confirmed guarantee. Even so, it is important to track these so it will give you an idea of when to expect kids should they be coming.

Something else to consider is just because does were exposed to a buck does not necessarily mean a love connection was made. For whatever reason, a breeding simply may not occur, but unless you are watching 24 hours a day, this is not information to which you will be privy. Instead of hoping for the best and assuming the buck took care of all of the does, there is a way to get confirmation that breeding took place. The way to do this is to outfit your buck with a breeding harness with marking capabilities. This type of harness is outfitted with a colored block that will rub off onto does when breeding contact is made. It can be quite messy and you may end up with some interestingly colored goats, but it does serve as a clear indicator as to which goats have been breeding.

How To Know if You Have a Pregant Doe - GPS1504 - nolan-the-vet-175.jpg
Photo: Nolan the Vet

As time passes, you will notice a change in the shape of a pregnant doe's belly. Though goats of different breeds and physical stature carry pregnancy less obviously than others, there are goats whose bellies bulge straight out to the side. The shape and size of goat bellies will be determined by diet and the number of kids growing inside. It could be that your goat is eating pretty well or that there are, in fact, babies growing in there. Usually by four months after breeding, these physical changes should take shape, giving you some idea as to whether or not there are buns in the oven.

Another sign of pregnancy is the formation of an udder. Some does will begin to form an udder a month or so in advance of delivery while others will take their time, not forming one until kids are born. Even so, seeing an udder is usually a good sign of a pregnant doe, however, it is possible that she could be faking you out yet again. Some does have been known to come into milk even if they are not bred.

With all of this in mind, you may be thinking that ultrasound is sounding better and better! The fact of the matter is that goats can be tricky and being able to determine if they are actually pregnant or not can be a tough job. It helps to know what is normal for each doe in terms of heat cycle, physical condition, and behavior, but even then you may be fooled. In order to avoid all of this guessing, you may find that conducting a pregnancy test is the best way to go. This can be done at 30 days past exposure to a buck via the BioPRYN test available through BioTracking. This test looks for the Pregnancy-Specific Protein B (PSPB) and can tell you for certain if you have a pregnant doe on your hands which can eliminate a lot of speculation and guesswork on your part.

What signs do your goats exhibit that clue you into whether or not they are bred? Are there any telltale cues amongst your does? Let us know in the comments!

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6 COMMENTS
Posted: 
December 28, 2015  •  10:38 AM
I have watched a successful breeding for each of my goats this season.
Sole' began bulging out her sides at 2 months - so she's probably with child!
Gladys was in heat 3 times before her date with Obie; we knew all day long, when she was in heat. No more noise since her date - so she is also bred.
Bessie also was bred on 4th cycle, we noted no more signs of heat after, but she was not as noisey anyway.
Nellie met with Obie on her second cycle, she is a small, slender girl and may be rounding out, certainly is hungry.
Leah lived with the bucks for several months in summer to help her loose weight. She came out when the breeding season started. She has had multiple heat cycles, several visits with Obie since September and for about a month bunked with the baby buck (he was 5-6 months old) because he needed a friend. She is round again (last year she was a round goat and had only a cloud burst), and because she exhibited heat signs for several months I really have no idea whether she is settled nor when she might kid.
 
Posted: 
February 21, 2016  •  08:32 PM
We have three girls building udders with one month to go. We turned our buck loose in the pasture with our girls for six weeks, and no one came back into heat after his visit. We had one doe - Panic, our weirdo - ultrasounded, and she was confirmed 35 days gone with a single. Only one question mark, our little Atchoo, and she's such a love we can wait for next year with her if she didn't catch. Four weeks to go, and then our five does and one llama should all give birth within the same week. We'll keep you posted ;) Good luck this season!
 
Posted: 
May 1, 2016  •  03:59 PM
Why don't more people in the US talk about or even know about the Barium Chloride/Urine test? As far as I've experienced it works. 1 percent barium chloride diluted in water and add equal parts urine, look for "precipitation" i.e "snow = no" If the solution stays clear your goat is pregnant. Apparently they use this in India. The downside is waiting for her to pee and having a sterile container to catch it in. Im not sure what the percentage of false negative or false positives are, but it gives me something to go on and its way better than a blood test. You can find a study of chemical tests at oer.nios.ac.in, I would love more information on this.
 
Posted: 
May 22, 2016  •  02:40 PM
I am new to this herd. Have been reading in different forums and this string caught my eye. We have two boer beauties. Buttercup and Billie Goat. We are hopeing to breed them in the fall. I live in Pennsylvania, York. My neighboors have goats too. Boers and females. We were wondering if there was someone out in our neighborhood that had a healthy young buck for breeding. This is not for show goats. Just to clear some hills and teach our children a bit about farming and responsibilty. Willing to leave their little guy with our girls. Is this heard of? And if, so can you send me some more information?
I appreciate any help you can give us.
 
Posted: 
December 9, 2016  •  05:53 PM
@gunmetalbutterfly This is really interesting. You're right, none of us in the US talk/know about the barium chloride/urine test😅 Do you know where I can order barium chloride? I want to try this on some of my girls that I think are bred.
 
Posted: 
January 11, 2017  •  08:24 PM
If you keep the buck up in his own pen with another buck or wether for company and wait for the does to cycle. Take the doe to the buck and it doesn't take long. My does all cycled in October this year, the buck was in rut and the ones I wanted bred are pregnant and the others are still cycling. The first year I was caught off guard. The buck ran with the does and I was guessing mostly about who got bred when. I have to have details. Now I'm more at ease.
 
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