What signs should you look for when you think your doe is about to give birth? Some breeders know exactly when to expect kids because of a strict breeding regimen and then they mark off the days on the calendar. Here at my little farm, I let my does breed when they show signs of heat and I let nature take its course. Once I notice that she no longer shows interest in the buck, I just remove him and then mark the calendar for an “approximate” date.
Here are the most common signs of birthing. However, I’ve had a couple of goats show absolutely no signs at 7pm yet at 7am they came to eat accompanied by a little one!
These signs are in no particular order:
- The doe digs a nest, paces, paws at the ground or bedding
- There is white vaginal discharge, loss of the mucus plug, followed by a streaming of clear, runny mucus
- Has loose tail ligaments; tail lifts up
- Appears restless, rises and lies down frequently
- Eyes are luminous and possibly stargazes
- Smells the ground and may exhibit the Flehmen reaction (curling of upper lip)
- Looks behind her, licks or bites her sides
- Hollows out: from the side, hollow areas above the back leg under the back
- Elevates her front end by standing on something with her front feet only
- Bottom of her belly starts getting lower to the ground
- Squats and urinates frequently
- Udder begins to fill, teat have a waxy, shiny look or are strutted (pointed slightly out to side rather than downward) – this sign is usually right before birthing – expect kid in 24 hours
- Vulva becomes flabby & puffy
- Bleats or “baby talks” to the unborn kid
- Grinds teeth
- Breathes faster, pants, yawns
- Goes off by herself to a “private’ place (that could be out in the rain or cold)
- Acts out of character: becomes more affectionate or more standoffish
- Acts uncomfortable and pushes and rolls as the babies get into birthing position
- Vocalizes or grunts when contractions occur
- May refuse to eat the morning of delivery (very rare here!
Remember, all goats are individuals and may or may not show any of the above signs. By knowing your animals, you’ll know when something’s up.
Being present at birthing is a beautiful gift – it’s unlikely that your doe will need help but if she does, just do what comes naturally! Most times all she needs is to hear your comforting voice, especially on first timers.
I love holding wet babies and having them smell me from the moment they’re cleaned off. Then suprisingly, watch them jump around only hours after entering this world! What a joy!
Winter kids have it very hard. I’ve experienced it first hand this year. I’ve lost a few to chills (moms kidded outside in the rain when they had access to a warm dry barn – go figure), and at this time in January most of my kids have the sniffles, runny noses and lots of coughing. It’s very hard to see these little babies not healthy as they should. Because of this, I will not allow any of my does to breed between May and October (hence avoiding kidding between October & March). I’ve had to learn the hard way but certainly not as hard as my little goats!
April 28th, 2010
I’ve added this link to a video of a normal birth – no problems or issues. Brownie is mildly vocal, some can be much louder and others will not make a sound. You’ll see me grab the little hooves & pull. Only do this if you feel the kid is stuck but before you do pull, insert your fingers to feel for the little muzzle. If you don’t feel the nose, do not pull – it could be that the kid is not presenting itself correctly. However, this is no cause to be alarmed.. not yet. Most times the contractions will realign the kid and all will go well. Sometimes, like the case with Gracie, this didn’t happen & she needed an emergency C-Section.