Will our goats be kidding soon?
Yes, that’s the main topic of discussion around our house at the moment. Our goats are due to kid any day now. With the weather being cold we’ve been a little worried they might kid when we’re not around to monitor and warm them if needed. So we’ve been keeping a close eye and watching for signs that they might be getting close. Between all of us, we’ve made too many trips to the barn to count… we can’t wait for the kids to arrive! Last weekend we cleaned out the stalls and put fresh hay down so the birthing stalls are ready!
Goats have a gestation of 150 days, so I marked the day on the calendar when we put the buck in with the does. I never saw them mate so I can’t calculate an exact date. It’s been several days past the mark of 150 days since they were first put with the buck so now it’s a matter of watching and waiting.
This is our third year of having goats kid out, so I’m still kind of a newbie at telling if kidding might be close, but I have come up with a few signs that are pretty reliable.
For me, this is the most reliable sign and what I go by first when checking the goats. Goats have two ligaments that run on either side of their spine, above their tail. Normally, they feel firm, but the closer to kidding the goat gets, the softer the ligaments become. Shortly before kidding, that area will become very soft and squishy. If you can put your thumb and fingers on either side of the goat’s spine and almost pinch them together around the spine, then it’s a good indication that the babies will be arriving within 24 hours.
Usually if you see discharge, it means the kids could be arriving soon. From my experience so far, whenever the mucus started, we had kids shortly after. I’ve read, though, that goats can have discharge up to two weeks before they kid, so that may not always be a reliable sign.
Vulva will look bigger
When kidding nears, the vulva will relax and have a puffy look to it. From my experience, this along with the softening ligaments is a sure sign kids will be arriving soon.
Udder will start to look fuller
This isn’t one of the more reliable ways to tell because it varies so much from goat to goat. I remember the first year we had goats kidding, we tried to go just by the size of the udder. One goat’s udder looked fuller days before she kidded, the other didn’t look full until after she kidded. So I check the udder, but don’t solely rely on that.
Restlessness/ acting differently
Sometimes goats will become restless, more vocal, or want to go off by themselves as they start labor. They could also act differently. For example, if they are tame and all of a sudden run away from you or if they aren’t as tame and all of a sudden want to be near you, it could be a sign they are in labor. Of course goats can be pretty quirky and odd most of the time, so unless they have several of the above signs along with their strange behavior, it’s definitely not a good indicator.
One morning last year, we decided to check all the goats’ ligaments because it was getting close to kidding time. We noticed Sugar felt a lot softer than the others. We decided to take her to the barn just in case, but as we tried to get her there; she refused to go because it was feeding time. She didn’t have mucus but her vulva looked a little puffy compared to the others. Since she wasn’t acting any different than normal, and had no other signs, we decided to let her stay with the herd and eat. An hour and a half later, we went out to check her. She’d had her kids, one was up running around and the other had just been born. Luckily it was a nice warm day so we didn’t have to worry about them getting cold. We couldn’t believe how fast she’d had them. It just proves that goats don’t always show a lot of signs before kidding sometimes.
Tonight when we went out to do chores and check goats, we decided to move Sugar into the barn. Her ligaments were feeling pretty soft, so from our last experience, we decided it would be better to be safe than sorry. It would be nice if both goats could hold out a while longer until the weather warms up some, but I doubt they will.
I guess we’ll be seeing how accurate the signs are this time. Be sure to check back for updates.