How Long Do Goats Stay Pregnant?
Goats are useful domestic animals – they can be bred for meat, milk, fiber, or a combination of any of the two.
Knowing how long goats stay pregnant is important for every farmer, especially those that breed goats for milk. The pregnancy period of a goat is called the gestation period.
How long do goats stay pregnant?
The Gestation length of goats ranges from 145 to 155 days (average 150 days). This translates to about five months or 21 weeks.
The gestation period can be shortened or extended – this depends on the availability of some factors. Factors like the breed of the goat, litter weight, nutrition, health status, environment, and parity all play a role in determining or influencing the gestation length of a goat.
But do all goats have the same gestation period? Do wild goats have shorter gestation periods? Do miniature goats have a shorter gestation period? We will look at these and more as we proceed.
Generally, a doe gives birth to one or two kids during her first birth. This increases in subsequent birth, as triplets and quadruplets are common.
What does Gestation Period for Goats mean?
The gestation period refers to the time the child spends developing in the mother’s womb, from conception to birth. As stated, goats have an average of 150 days, which differs from other herbivores.
For instance, pigs are 113 days, sheep are also 150 days, while the longest is a cow which has an average of 283 days, which is almost nine months.
Coming to goats, the 150-day applies to normal-sized domestic goats. Miniature goats such as the Nigerian Dwarf Goat and Pygmy differ slightly.
Miniature Goats Gestation Period
The American Goat Society stated that the gestation length for miniature goats is slightly shorter than that of full-sized goats.
Miniature breeds such as the Pygmy and Nigerian dwarf goat have an average of 145 days against 150 days of normal-sized goats.
Length of Wild Goats’ gestation period
Against the popular belief that wild goats have a shorter gestation period, wild goats, in normal terms have longer gestation lengths than domestic goats.
For instance, the North American mountain goat has a gestation period of 150 to 180 days.
Signs of Pregnancy in Goats
1. The doe’s belly tightens.
The doe’s belly tightens two weeks after she has successfully bred. You can easily check it out. Simply, take your fingers and firmly press them against her belly just in front of her udder, and when it feels tight and tense, you can say that she is pregnant.
However, this is not a very reliable premise to check whether a goat is pregnant, as a doe that is not used to being handled may sometimes out of nervousness tense or tighten up her belly even if she isn’t pregnant
2. Inability to return to heat.
The heat cycle of a doe spans between 17 days to 25 days. When a doe is not pregnant, she tends to return to heat during the next heat cycle.
If she is pregnant, she will not return to heat. She may show some signs of estrus on the next heat cycle, but it won’t be as intense as usual.
And, she will be showing little or no interest in a buck when he visits her. So it is important that as a goat owner you know the heat cycle of your doe, as this will help you to know when to watch and observe her.
One major fact about goats is that a goat that didn’t get pregnant after the breeding season, will fall back to the next heat cycle.
3. Increased Appetite
The appetite of a pregnant doe increases consistently. And this stage, you should feed your doe with more food and great supplements.
You shouldn’t use the regular measurement while feeding her. Increase it gradually.
4. Milk Production Decreases
If she is a dairy goat, her milk production gradually decreases when she gets pregnant, because her udder recedes.
Since the gestation period of a goat is 150 days, it is advised that you stop milking your goats for at least two months, or not more than 120 days to allow her body to rest.
5. The doe experiences personality reversal
A pregnant doe often has a personality reversal, and this kicks off about two weeks after she was successfully bred. If your doe was shy before, she may suddenly become your best friend, always wanting attention and you patting or scratching her back.
If she was friendly, she might become stubborn and stiff-necked towards you. Simply, she becomes the opposite of who she was before.
However, these changes are temporary and only last during the gestation period. When she gives birth, she becomes her normal self.
6. The buck experiences personality reversal
It isn’t only the doe that has a personality change. If the doe is housed with the breed buck, the buck may become aggressive toward the bred doe.
Sometimes, you will notice that the buck keeps the doe away from the grain feeder. If you observe such behavior, you will need to observe them more.
7. The doe snores harder
Most times, goats snore when resting, especially when having a siesta on a hot summer afternoon. But when the doe is pregnant, her snore becomes more frequent and louder than usual.
It is always funny watching pregnant does on the hot summer afternoon. Their snores will almost sound like a chorus.
8. The doe’s barrel swells.
The barrel swelling occurs differently in goats. Some pregnant women start swelling almost immediately, while others take a couple of months after being bred, while in others, it happens overnight, as an appearance of a balloon.
The barrel gradually increases in swelling as the pregnancy progresses. You can measure and keep track of the swelling.
All you have to do is measure each doe’s girth (barrel diameter, just the front legs) at the time of breeding and gradually each month as the pregnancy progresses.
9. The doe’s shape changes.
A doe begins to change in shape as the fetus grows. You begin to observe some changes in the doe, such as her right side sticking out farther than the left side and the gradual swelling on the left side. The latter indicates a full rumen.
To tell if a doe is carrying two or more kids, her left side belly side may bulge as well on the right, giving the doe a boat-like appearance.
Does that have kidded before may not have a boat-like appearance. Instead, they may develop a saggy belly.
10. The kids begin to move
This is the most obvious sign that tells if a doe is pregnant. When a doe gets settled for three-and-a-half to four months, you may begin to observe the movement of the kid(s) she is carrying.
Sometimes you can observe and see them kicking against her side. To be sure of what you saw, you can feel her belly.
You just have to spread your hands against the right side of her belly, just ahead of the udder, and you will begin to feel the movement, especially when the doe is carrying more than one kid.
If this is your first time breeding goats, and the above steps sound strange or difficult to you, you can carry out a blood or milk test to tell if a doe is pregnant. The blood test has been proven to be more reliable than the milk test.
What affects the gestation length of a Goat?
The gestation period of goats can vary due to different factors. The breed of a goat has little influence on the gestation length.
Below are the factors that play a huge role in affecting the gestation length of a goat.
- Breeding season
- Litter weight
- Parity (this refers to the number of times the doe has been pregnant).
Research has proved that goats that are bred in summer usually have slightly longer gestation lengths than those bred in the fall. The longer gestation period simply depicts heavier kids.
In terms of litter weight, does who have had several previous litters do have a shorter gestation length. Also, they tend to have larger litters after a couple of pregnancies.
According to research, kids produced from longer gestation periods are healthier and heavier than kids produced in the shorter gestation periods.
What time of the year do goats give birth?
Similar to other animals, goats breed seasonally. This depicts that goats are usually bred between late summer and early winter, and kids during the spring month.
However, they are goat breeds that are bred all year round, for instance, the Nigeria dwarf goat. Normally, does get pregnant in the colder months and has kids during the springtime.
Are goat gestation calculators legit?
There are online gestation calculators you can use to calculate when your doe will give birth. All thanks to technology.
You can keep these online gestation calculators handy on either your smartphone or tablet or laptop. All you have to do is to enter the date your goat was bred and it will give you a kidding date. Sometimes the gestation tables produce around 6 dates per month with corresponding kidding dates.
However, the date may not be very specific, as it is usually an estimate since a doe pregnancy is not devoid of external influences.
How many times does a Goat Kid per Year?
Since the average goat gestation is 150 days, a doe can kid (give birth) twice a year. However, animal experts warn that for health reasons.
A doe should be allowed to give birth once a year, or every 18 months. This is because constant pregnancy can weaken the body of the doe, and this may make her more susceptible to illness, and possibly shorten her lifespan.
It is important that a goat owner that you should be know how long it takes for your goat to be pregnant, as this knowledge will help you to prepare better for the young kids as they arrive.