Goat Birthing Signs

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.kid

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.

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294 Responses to Goat Birthing Signs

  1. Gilda says:

    First time boer had buckling around 10 a.m. today and baby is fine but mother is still “talking” and straining like she has another one. It has been about 8 hrs and one side of her is still very big. She is up, eating and nursing the buckling but I am afraid something is wrong. She passed the afterbirth with no problem, any ideas as to what is going on. Pretty new to goat birthing so need help. Could there be another kid and she just cant have it. Vet was no help when I called, said just bring her in.

    • Christine says:

      Gilda, hopefully all is well by now… in any case, please take a look at this excellent website for future use… you’ll learn how to help your does kids & to understand if what is going on is normal or not. Very few vets can help you unless their specialty is caprine medicine. Good luck!

  2. Tamara says:

    my female goat is pregnant i assume…..as she is incredibly huge and her milk just came in….about 3 weeks ago we thought she was going to give birth any time….when she lays down or sits down her =vagina= stretches out and hangs out. is this normal? do you think she will have babies soon should i be worried?

    • Christine says:

      Tamara, all I can say is to let nature take it’s course. If she’s pregnant, there’s a 99% chance everything will go well!

  3. Tamara says:

    I have a 2 years old boer female. I believe she is pregnant. She has her milk in her bag gets bigger every day it seems. She is HUGE!!!!!! I keep thinking she is going to give birth…… but 3 weeks have gone by and she hasnt. When she lays down her =vagina= stretches out and sticks out….is this normal? Should I be worried…

  4. Crystil says:

    Hi. I am new to raising Pygmy goats. I recently purchased 2 does. Both are almost 2 years old. When I bought them they had been running with a Pygmy buck. I am not sure for how long. I believe one of the does it pregnant and may be getting close to going into labor. Her vulva has been enlarged for the last couple of weeks. She is starting to produce some milk. I noticed today she has been breathing harder but haven’t seen any mucus plug at this time. How long do u think it might be before she actually goes into labor.

    • Christine says:

      Hello Crystil, I get asked this all the time & sadly I really can’t answer… all goats are different, but know that each goat will be the same at each kidding… so next year remember how it went with these girls & expect the same then. As far a going into labor, you can see a normal acting goat at 9 am, eating and drinking and return at 10 to find her with her kid. Other goats can paw, scratch, arch their backs, look uncomfortable for hours… you never know. It’s also important to know if they’re really pregnant. Pygmy goats are well rounded to begin with… look for movement on her right side to lower belly in the last couple of weeks. Good luck!

  5. Cindy Senn says:

    I am a new time goat owner and use your link and answers all the time to be sure I am giving my little ones all they could want and be the best I could be. Had the vet in when I knew they were pregnant. Had all there shots. Got the good health sign and looked forward to the day we all had new babies running and jumping around. My little fainting goat (Baby) lost her plug and has had mucus come out all weekend. I really though labor was on its way but she just doesn’t seem to go in heavy labor. The licking, stretching her little legs like she is uncomfy and mucus I thought it was right around the corner. She has been laying by herself. Her bag is full but not strutted. Am I just a worried first timer or are we doing okay? Could it take a first timer to get rolling so to speak a little longer for the labor to start?

    • Christine says:

      Hi Cindy! Good to hear of someone taking the best care of their goats! Baby seems to be showing “first time mama” symptoms. She’s not quite sure what’s going on & I think the fainters are always strange when it comes to kidding. Maybe it’s because of their myotonia.. my advice is always the same… remove her from the herd (within 2 weeks of her kidding date), make sure she has shelter, good hay & water & keep an eye on her. Until she starts pushing, there’s really nothing to worry about. A kid is usually born within 30 minutes of pushing… if she pushes beyond that, then you should intervene. Make your way over to this site.. http://fiascofarm.com/goats/how_to_deliver_a_kid.html grab a cup of coffee & get all the info you can. Good luck & have fun!

  6. Shay says:

    I have a very young pygmy goat, about 11 months old. She accidentally got pregnant. It’s my fault, I shouldnt have left her with the male so long, thinking she couldnt get pregnant. Anyways. I am preparing for the birth. Is there anything I should worry about with such a young goat? Any advise?

    • Christine says:

      Shay, she’s a little young but not anything to worry about. What’s important is the size between her & the buck. If they are about the same size, everything should be fine. About a week before she is due, make sure to isolate her away from the other goats especially the buck! You’ll find all the info you need on my website & on my facebook Good luck & remember, if she’s not in distress, nothing is wrong.

  7. Patti says:

    Enjoyed reading all of the post. I have a 2 yr old doe about to kid. On her first go round she showed no signs and I had left her with the herd only to find 2 dead babies ahe had during the night. I seperated her out today because she paws at the ground, bag is full/kinda shiny, and she’s been yawning all day. She’s alittle skiddish and I’m afraid to be too close for fear she won’t concentrate on what she needs to do when it’s time. I really don’t know what more I could do. Any suggestions would be helpful.

    • Christine says:

      Patti, you did good to remove her from the herd. Keep her in a smaller area with fresh hay & water (and a heat lamp if you’re in a cold part of the country)… check on her every few hours if you can, if not, that’s okay – she’ll be fine. Nature is funny like that! 🙂 Sometimes does will show plenty of symptoms & other times not. A few years ago, I checked on one my does around 9:00… it was pouring rain & she was under cover, just chomping on hay. By the time I reached my house about 900 feet away, I looked out & saw her standing in the rain looking at something in the grass that I thought was a fly away Walmart bag. I pulled out my binoculars & saw that it was her kid.. she’d just dropped it right there, less than 10 minutes after I checked her out. Her bag was not even shinny! If she’s not in distress, there’s nothing to worry about!

  8. cuindy says:

    Just how puffy and swollen should her back end be? My Milly has been puffy for 5 days now. No sign of contractions. She is happy and eating and the babies are moving like crazy, but I am worried that she is so puffy and swollen. Any suggestions?

  9. salwa says:

    plz plz plz help me my she_goat gave one baby goat after 24 hour struggle 2nd baby does not come out n die inside her …now she is in v big pain ….wat should i give her for eat as well as how milk give to her 1st baby .because other milk makes her indigestion…plz kindly some body reply as soon.

    • Christine says:

      Salwa, how do you know she has a 2nd kid inside? Mom can eat regular food, hay & a bit of grain. Also, if delivery was difficult, you can add some sugar or molasses to her water for extra energy. If you’re talking about what to feed the kid, you must try to get her to get the colostrum from mom. Try to get mom to nurse her every 2 hours. Sometimes, after a few tries the mom will give up and let her nurse from then on. If you have to have to bottle feed the kid, you must get kid replacement milk. If you go to my Facebook & pose your questions, you will get many answers almost immediately.

  10. Shanna says:

    Hello. I am in need of some help! One of my goats had a thick white mucus cicle around 5 days ago, which I am assuming was her plug. Yesterday about 3pm MST I brought her into the kidding stall and she was showing all the signs of a doe in labor…except having discharge. Throughout the remaining day and night and into the current time of 7am she has been showing signs of contractions but still no discharge! Besides calling a vet, is there any other advice? Maybe I am imagining it all but she is definitely uncomfortable yet never getting serious about pushing.

    • Christine says:

      Shanna, sorry for not replying sooner. In the future for a quick answer, please go to my Facebook page where there are always experts with a quick response.

      No need to call a vet unless she’s in distress… for example if she’s been pushing for more than 20 minutes. Even then, most times you can help your doe by feeling the position of the kid & maybe helping to turn it around.

      Goats have been giving birth by themselves for thousands of years… we’re just too darned anxious! Good luck & remember to have fun with your goats!

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