How Can You Tell if a Goat is Just Pregnant or Just Fat? In this article, we covered everything from early goat pregnancy signs to the signs of labor in female goats.
Identifying a bloated goat (which is just fat) from a pregnant goat isn’t as easy. To identify one, you have to understand that goats on a natural base have large stomachs.
They have a four-chambered tummy where lots of gaseous activity goes on, making their stomach bloated.
If you notice that your goat’s stomach is bigger than usual, there are two things you need to find out. It is whether your goat has added weight or it is pregnant. The signs of a fat goat with a bloated stomach are different from those of a pregnant goat.
How to tell if a goat is pregnant or just fat
When a goat has a bloated stomach, the goat is a bit uncomfortable, and you will notice that the stomach gets wider, especially on the left side—most times, bloating results when there is a change in the goat’s diet which results in increased weight of the goat.
Because most bloating results from increased weight, you can notice that the goat may begin to have trouble breathing, which a pregnant goat does not experience. In this case, you should immediately consult the vet doctor.
So if your goats show the above signs, there is no need to carry out a pregnancy test on the goat.
Signs of Goat Pregnancy
Now, let’s look at the characteristics of a pregnant goat
- Squatting of hind legs: A pregnant goat tends to squat its hind legs, which frequently happens a few days before kidding.
- Increased in appetite: A pregnant doe experience surge in appetite. The goat’s daily food intake increases, and the food intake keeps increasing as she goes into the final stages of pregnancy. If the doe is a dairy goat, her milk production decreases considerably during pregnancy.
- Change in the doe’s personality: When a doe is pregnant, progesterone is suddenly released. This hormone is responsible for the complete change or reversal in the personality of the doe. However, this personality reversal lasts only during goat pregnancy, and if a doe is kept together with a male goat after breeding, the male goat may experience personality reversal.
- Failure to return to heat: A doe that is pregnant won’t return to heat. This is why you should know the heat cycle of your goat. It usually ranges from 17 to 25 days. When the doe is pregnant, she can show signs of estrus during the heat cycle or two, but it won’t be strong as usual, and she shows little or no interest in the male goat.
- The doe’s belly tightens: The belly of a pregnant doe tightens two weeks after she gets pregnant. You can easily detect this by firmly pressing your fingers against her belly just right at the front of her udder. When you apply your fingers, you will feel that the stomach is tight and tense.
- The doe barrel swells: In some pregnant goats, their barrel starts filling immediately after they get pregnant, while in others, it is until in a couple of months, and sometimes it can be overnight. It depends on the specie of the goat. To measure if the doe barrel has swollen up, measure the doe girth, which is gotten by measuring the barrel diameter just behind the front legs. You can easily detect the gradual increase of the barrel monthly.
- The doe snores loudly: Naturally, goats snore when they sleep or rest, especially while taking a siesta during the summer. However, if a goat is pregnant, she snores more loudly and frequently than usual. Trust me, and it can be funny. Imagine visiting your barn and being welcomed by the loud snores of pregnant goats.
- The doe’s udder swells: Naturally, if it is the doe’s first pregnancy, the Udder begins to develop about six weeks after pregnancy and is fully rounded by 12 weeks of gestation. If the doe has a kid before, the udder begins to swell after some days or months.
- The kid begins to move: The fetal movements of the kid kick off in the doe from three to four months after breeding. You can place your hands on the belly of the doe and feel the movement.
However, the most accurate way to tell if a doe is pregnant is to run some pregnancy tests on the doe. There are two types of pregnancy tests out there. Choose the one that suits your doe.
You can decide to carry out the test via testing the blood sample or the milk sample of the goats.
If you are going for the latter option, which is testing by milk sample, you need to send a pure sample to the vet. The most vital part of this test is to ensure 100% that the sample you send for testing should be pure.
Ensure you scrub your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds to prevent bacteria into the sample. Also, the udder should be adequately cleaned with warm water and mild soap to ensure that the milk sample is pure.
The milk sample should be sent immediately after testing so that there will not be an allowance for any kind of mistakes.
The milk pregnancy sample method is easier than the blood pregnancy test of the goats, but the limitation here is that you only use it on a doe that has given birth before. Also, doe that is milked regularly can be tested using this method.
For the blood pregnancy test, just the same way, you use a syringe to remove blood from the hands of a human; that is the same thing you do here. If you have no experience using syringes to draw blood, please don’t do it. Seek professional help.
In a goat, you get the blood sample from the vein at the base of the neck. It seems painful, right? Yes, it can be; that is why you have to be a professional to carry out this method.
You have to distract the doe by giving its food as a treat and ensure it is held properly. After this, you apply pressure at the base of the neck, which allows the veins to become visible.
Then you can insert the syringe into the visible veins and gradually draw the blood out. If the test results are positive, you should prepare and expect kids in the next five months.
How to tell if a goat is pregnant with twins
Most goat owners are probably curious to know whether their doe is going to give birth to a single kid or multiple goat kids. No matter your curiosity in this situation, you can’t find out during the first few weeks of pregnancy, even with a milk or blood sample pregnancy test.
However, signs begin to arise when the pregnancy progresses that might indicate that the doe will give birth to multiple kids.
One of the most accurate ways to determine whether a doe has multiple births is by Ultrasonography. Ultrasonography is an excellent and scientific method to determine the number of babies that a doe is carrying.
However, there is also a surprise reveal that you can use to determine if a goat is pregnant is having multiple births.
You can also decide to go for that natural method. Naturally, during the mature stages of the pregnancy, the vulva of the doe begins to swell, and the abdomen grows bigger.
If the doe is carrying a single kid, the core grows not too big, but it grows exceedingly large if it is carrying multiple kids. So here, the only skill you need is careful observation.
Can you feel if a goat is pregnant?
For the first five weeks after breeding, you cannot feel the pregnancy of a doe. Naturally, the doe does not show any strong signs of pregnancy during the first five weeks.
After five weeks, you can press your fingers correctly on the doe’s stomach to feel it. If the goat is pregnant, the belly will tighten a bit.
The doe begins to experience the kid’s movement in her stomach after three or four months of breeding. As a goat owner, you can also place your hands on the doe and remain there for a long time to feel the kid’s movement. The doe experiences the kicking of the kid regularly.
When a doe is pregnant, she reduces milking. A doe that is not ready to kid will have a strong tail ligament, and you can point this out through observation.
When the day of labor begins to draw closer, you can feel and observe that the tail ligament begins to loosen up. When the tail ligaments become soft, it is an indication that the doe is going to kid in a day.
So basically, the tail figment helps you tell how far the goat has grown in her pregnancy and how close she is to kidding.
Signs of Labor in Goats
There are also other labor signs you have to know and take into cognize as a goat owner, and they include:
The doe changes shape.
When labor time approaches, the kids begin to move in shape to align, and in this case, the doe’s belly starts to sag. About 12 to 18 hours before kidding, the kids stop moving around.
You can feel this by placing your palms against her flank. After kidding, the doe’s sides are hollow, her hip bones pop out, and above her back legs sink, and her spine becomes more visible.
The doe discharges mucus.
As kidding time draw nigh, the doe begins to discharge a thick string of white or yellowish mucus from her vaginal opening. Some days, the mucus will be cloudy, while it will be lighter on some days.
Days before kidding, you will notice a thick discharge that comes in the shape of a long, continuous rope.
The doe bags up.
Bagging up simply depicts the development of a doe’s udder or bag. One of the signs that her labor is drawing nigh is that her udder or bags begin to get bigger, which is called “freshening..”
Her udder begins to mature gradually around six weeks after bred and continues to fill out as her kidding time approaches. If the doe has given birth previously, she may start bagging up a month before kidding or till she is days away from kids.
When you notice that the udder is looking so tight and shiny, and the teats begin to point slightly to the sides, it is an indication that the doe will go to labor within a day.
The pelvic ligaments loosen.
When the doe is getting close to kidding, her hormone begins to relax. As such, the pelvic ligaments relax too. The pelvic ligaments relax and run over the doe’s tail, one on each side.
You can easily feel this by placing the palm of your hands firmly above the doe’s tail, and your fingers pointed toward the rear. Then, you press down gently with your thumb and forefinger while moving your hand gently towards the base of the tail. While doing this, you will feel a thin, stiff rope on each side of the tail.
When the doe is closer to kidding, the tail looks a little gimpy because the ligaments lose their tautness. When you can’t feel the ligaments at all, expect the doe to give birthing within a day. This is one of the most reliable labor signs that goat keepers have used during the ages.
The doe seeks to be alone.
Before kidding, the doe usually isolates herself from the rest of the herd. She may wander off into a pasture and stands mesmerized or stare at the ground.
Most times, the doe prefers having her kids outside, but this can become a problem if it is rainy or snowy outside. So ensure you keep an eye on your doe during her isolation period,
The doe becomes restless.
Before kidding, a doe becomes extremely restless; she can’t decide whether to lie down or stand up. She will repeatedly yawn, stretch and grind her teeth. She will turn in circles when she is up, paw the ground, and sniff at the bedding.
She won’t be able to stand still if you visit the rin this stage. She may even lick your face, hands, and arms – that’s how restless she can be.
The doe experiences difficulty in eating.
When a doe is close to kidding, she hardly eats. She may not even have it at all a day before, kidding. However, I don’t know the reason for this; possible the presence of the kid against her rumen that makes her feel full.
On the other hand, some species of doe will eat up right until the kid and even eat in the middle of giving birth to twins.
The doe becomes vocal.
Some species of does begin to bleat a day or two loudly before kidding. The doe lets out a loud bawl when labor starts with each contraction. As the contractions get close together, she grunts harder.
The calendar track system.
If you are aware of the time when the doe mated with the buck, you can easily make calculations on the expected date of kidding. Usually, the gestation period for goats is approximately 150 days. However, a goat can be three to five days early or late.
However, you can keep a record of the exact time you doe a kid, as it will help you predict her subsequent pregnancy accurately.
The water bag bursts.
When the labor begins and the goats start pushing, the water bag immediately bursts and water comes out from the vaginal opening. In some cases, the water bag comes out intact without bursting.
After that, the second bag of dark fluid consisting of amniotic fluid membranes comes out. This second bag helps to protect the kids while in the belly. After both bags are out, you can see her pushing out her kids.
When your doe is pregnant, ensure you feed her with a rich nutritious diet, and if you notice any form of abnormality, do consult the vet doctor immediately.
Being overweight can lead to obesity which can affect the health of the goat. If you notice that the belly of your goat is bloated out, check the diet, and immediately change it. If it is serious, pleases do consult the vet doctor immediately.