If your are new to goat keeping, and breeding goats you’ve probably never experienced goat labor, so here are 10 signs a goat is in labor for you to look for. Knowing these signs will help you ensure that you are not only prepared, but relieves some of the stress around kidding season.
How Do You Know If Your Goat Is In Labor?
If you’ve never bred a goat before, going into kidding season can be very stressful for you. But if you are prepared, and you know what you are looking for some of that stress can be alleviated. Further in this article we’ll break down each of the signs a goat is in labor, and when you see several of these at the same time you know your goat is in labor.
Should I Help My Goat Give Birth?
In most cases a goat can successfully deliver kids in several different positions without assistance. However there are occasions that is may be necessary to step in and assist your goats delivery. Two of the most dangerous positions a kid can be in when you goat is delivering is are when the head is back, or when she tries to deliver two kids at the same time. Both of these scenarios would require you to step in and assist. This is why it’s important to have a kidding kit ready to go.
Goat Gestation Calendar
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How Long Are Goats In Labor For?
A normal goat labor timeline is approximately 12 hours. The actual delivery should be finished in under 30 minutes.
Goat Kidding Signs: What To Look For
You may not see all of these signs a goat is in labor but look for several of them together. If you have a mentor reach out to them as well.
Signs A Goat Is In Labor #1 Swollen Vulva
One of the first signs a goat is in labor you may notice is that her vulva will become loose and may even jiggle as she walks. You also may notice that when she lays down, it will be slightly open.
Signs A Goat Is In Labor #2 Udders Get Hard
One of the signs a goat is in labor is her udder will become hard, this is often called “Bagging up” so she can feed her kids. This process of bagging up and producing milk is called “freshening.” If the doe is a first freshener, her udder will mature gradually, starting around six weeks after she was bred and continuing to fill out as birthing time approaches. If the doe has previously given birth, her udder should have receded while her previous milk cycle was on the decline. Such an older doe may start bagging up a month before she’s due to kid, or she may not bag up until mere days before giving birth. In many cases, when the goats udder looks tight and shiny, and the teats tend to point slightly to the sides, kids will appear within about a day.
Signs A Goat Is In Labor #3 Talking, Biting or Nibbling At Her Belly
One of the most noticeable signs a goat is in labor is that she becomes louder and restless. A doe that is going into labor can’t decide if she wants to lie down or stand up- When she’s up, she’ll pace, she may turn in circles, or paw the ground, and perhaps sniff at the bedding. Your goat may repeatedly stretch, yawn, and might grind her teeth. She may look back as if trying to see what’s behind her and lick or bite at her sides. If you visit her in the kidding stall, she may lick your face, hands, and arms.
Signs A Goat Is In Labor #4: Refusing To Eat
Another one of the signs a goat is in labor is refusing to eat. A goat that is going into labor may refuse to eat several hours before going into labor, or up to a day. However this is always true with every goat so it isn’t the best sign to rely on.
Signs A Goat Is In Labor #5: Seeking Solitude
Another of the signs a goat is in labor is if she begins to seek solitude. Some goats wish to be alone with their kids and will wonder off by themselves. If you have very cold or wet weather it’s important to try to encourage her into a covered place that is secluded.
Signs A Goat Is In Labor #6 Tail Ligaments are Completely Gone
Another of the signs a goat is in labor is the ligaments loosening in her tail. Just before your goat have their kids a hormone called relaxin is released causing the pelvic ligaments to relax. These ligaments run beside the doe’s tail, one on each side. If you place the palm of your hand above the doe’s tail, fingers pointed toward the rear, and press down with your thumb and forefinger while moving your hand toward the base of the tail, you will encounter what feels like a thin, stiff rope on each side of the tail. This technique is easier to master on does that are neither fat nor heavily muscled. Practice finding these ligaments so you know what they normally feel like. When your doe nears kidding time, the ligaments lose their tautness and, as a result, the tail looks a little gimpy. When you can’t feel the ligaments at all, expect kids within the day. Many goat keepers find this method to be the most reliable goat labor sign.
Signs A Goat Is In Labor #7 Babies Drop
Another one of the signs a goat is in labor is the babies dropping, as kidding time nears for your doe and the kids start moving into position, the doe’s belly sags. Within about 12 to 18 hours before she gives birth when you press your palms against her flank, you will no longer be able to feel the kids moving around. As the kids drop, the doe’s sides hollow and her hip bones stick out. As the area above the back legs sinks, the spine appears to become more prominent.
Signs A Goat Is In Labor #8 Discharge
One of the later signs a goat is in labor you will want to look for is discharge from the vulva. As their kidding time nears, you may notice a thick string of white or yellowish mucus dangling from the doe’s vaginal opening. **Note that some does will drip cloudy mucus as much as a month prior to kidding. What you’re looking for just prior to kidding is a thick discharge that looks like a long, continuous rope.**
Signs A Goat Is In Labor #9 Pushing
One of the final signs a goat is in labor to look for is contractions. During this stage of labor and while having contractions, the goat will arch their back and her tail will arch back and forth during the contractions.
Signs A Goat Is In Labor #10 Water Bursts
The last of the signs a goat is in labor we are going to talk about is water burst. When your doe starts pushing, you may see a water bag protruding from the vulva opening. This bag may burst or may come out intact. Behind it a second bag, filled with dark fluid, may appear. These bags consist of membranes containing amniotic fluid, which surround and protect the kid or kids up until the time of birth. The next thing you will most likely see are the very tips of a kid’s front toes, with a small nose resting on top.
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