When I looked at our new soon-to-be-mama, Cream, waddling around slowly with at least two unborn kids inside of her, I found myself waddling along with her, feeling her uncomfortableness! It's natural for us mamas to gain a better understanding for our pregnant does. We have a new found kinship with them!
Here in Indiana, the kidding season is drawing nearer. We put our does in with a certain buck in August, but usually they are not ready until September or even October to breed. I am not one to stand there and watch and wait for the moment to happen. That's not what I call a particularly fun time! If you have not seen a buck trying to get the doe's attention, it's pretty comical and, well, weird! They are a strange animal to say the least! Bucks are another story in themselves!
So, how do I know when they are due to kid? My simple answer is I don't know. And if you do not know when they were bred, you have to pay closer attention to your does. There is no simple, straight forward answer that will tell you that they are about to have their babies. Every doe is different. Just when you thought you knew what was going on, they throw another loophole at you!
I can, however, give you some basic guidelines to go by if you are like me and do not have the bred date on the calender! Actually, I do have one bred date only because I just happened to look out the window and voila!
Does are pregnant for 150 days. I usually just say five months, give or take a few days. When they are about three months along, you can begin to tell they are pregnant. You will notice them getting bigger. Young does still might need more time to fill out and look pregnant. We've had surprises before!
Once you have figured out that they are pregnant, now what? From our experience, when the doe starts to form an udder, they are probably in the last month to month and a half. Here are some pictures of Cream's udder. It has grown bigger in the last couple of weeks. Their udders are usually pretty tight when it is time to kid. Cream's is getting close!
You might also notice that their flanks look skinny. This usually means that the babies have dropped down and are getting ready for birth in the near future. If you look at Cream's picture up top, you will see that her flanks are still filled out. Cream does not look like her babies have dropped yet.
Sometimes, with older does, they will always have that dropped looked as with Peaches in the next picture.
See how her hipbone is protruding slightly? When the babies drop, you will see a bigger difference, especially looking at them from the front. She is pregnant by-the-way, but probably not due until April.
The next thing to pay attention to, once you know she will kid within the month, is her vulva. It will look enlarged or maybe even swollen. Again, some does have this from the very beginning, but others, the last week of pregnancy. Sometimes, shortly before the birth takes place, the vulva might shrink back to it's normal size. Confusing? Yes!
So, what now? Probably the easiest way to figure out if your doe will be kidding soon is her behavior. They will be very restless, and sometimes they talk alot with little bleats. Any slight difference in behavior should be noted.
A sure sign of a nearing birth is seeing that first liquid coming from the vulva. Then you really need to keep watch!
So, first, watch the udder. When it is full and tight, see if she has dropped, then keep an eye on her vulva and how she is acting. Again, every goat is different! Yours might have other signs of a nearing birth that I did not mention. Just note these and remember them for the following year.
I am hoping to get a live birth on video soon. If they wait for me, it just might happen! I love having little goat kids running around. They are such a joy to watch!