Goats/Goat Pregnancy


QUESTION: Can a goat show signs of being in labor? We have a doe that we know has been bred, we just dont know when she is due. She has been acting funny the past two days. She has been stretching alot then looking at her belly and there seems to be movement in her belly. She has been coming up to us alot more and she never does that. She barely will touch her feed we give her and will nibble at her feed. Her sides are hollow and her ligaments are loose. She has been stalled the past two nights but nothing is happening. She gets let out during the day and lays down most of the time. So far she hasnt had any discharge but keeps peeing and pooping and sometimes squats like she is going to pee. Her milk sac isnt big either. Could she be showing signs of going into labor? Should we continure stalling her during the night? We are just worried because of showing all these sign for two days. Her temperature this morning was 101.3 and she has been wormed.

ANSWER: HI Makenzie:

If this is a first time mom and she shows NO signs of actively  PUSHING..  then I might wait and see for now,  some times new moms take a bit longer to go into actual labor,  but yes this sounds like the first stages of labor to me. The stretching says to me she is trying to re position babies.. wish you knew her due date, in times like this  it is very important to know  when to expect  her to kid  - IF she has shown any signs of actual pushing..  and you have seen nothing  yet  it may be time to call the vet..  has she lost her mucus plug? Does she have any discharge?  I have had moms literally fill their udders during active labor so this is not always a sign of impending kidding.  Usually but not always.  The not eating and laying around part bothers me.. could be a sign of Pregnancy toxemia or Hypocalcemia.

Pregnancy Toxemia can occur within the last six weeks of pregnancy and is caused either by underfeeding (starvation toxemia equals an energy shortage) or overfeeding. A doe's nutritional balance is critical during this time frame. Feeding too much grain or feeding the wrong kinds of grain is usually the culprit. During these last weeks of pregnancy, a doe has little room in her body for lots of grain, fast-growing fetuses, and the amount of roughage (grass hay) vital for proper rumen function. A goat goes off-feed when it doesn't get enough roughage. Huge stores of body fat plus a uterus full of fetuses set the stage for Pregnancy Toxemia. Symptoms of Pregnancy Toxemia include off-feed, dull eyes, slow moving, general weakness, tremors, teeth grinding, stargazing, leg swelling, and coma. When fetuses die, toxemia results from the decaying bodies inside the doe and she also dies. All of this happens because of improper feeding.

When Pregnancy Toxemia occurs, a dramatic change in feed will not solve the problem. Instead, divide her grain into three or four small meals each day. Make sure that she eats a lot of top-quality grass hay. Leave fresh, clean water out free choice. Also offer some warm water laced with molasses or apple juice to encourage water consumption. The doe needs to drink a lot of water to flush toxins from her kidneys. An occasional handful of alfalfa hay may prove helpful. Propylene glycol dosed at 60 cc orally twice a day can be used, but this product is hard on her kidneys and goats usually don't like it. An alternative to propylene glycol is a combination of 50% dextrose diluted with an equal amount of water and given orally at a rate of 60 cc twice per day. Molasses and water or Karo syrup and water can also be used. Get both Vitamin B12 and Fortified Vitamin B Complex into her, and orally drench her with Goat Nutri-Drench (www.jefferslivestock.com). Feed the doe as many green leaves as she will eat; in off-growing season, pick dried leaves and offer them to her free choice. Oral administration of CMPK or MFO is desirable. Niacin at a rate of 1000 mg per day is helpful. Daily dosing with probiotic paste are advisable. Moderate exercise is essential; do not allow the doe to be inactive.

 Hypocalcemia ("Milk Fever") is not really a fever at all but a calcium imbalance in the doe's body. The mis-naming of this illness often causes confusion. If a doe is going to become hypocalcemic, it will occur around kidding time. She will become uninterested in eating (go off-feed), may be mildly bloated or constipated, have a cold dry mouth, has difficulty walking and/or rising from a sitting position, have sub-normal body temperature (sub-normal), have cold rear legs and drag them, and may have weak labor contractions. Sometimes the only symptom is hind-leg dragging. Rear body parts feel cold to the touch. If the doe cannot get up, set her upright on her sternum and pull her head to one side; this position should reduce the chance of aspirating rumen contents into her lungs that may result from bloating.

Hypocalcemia is a complex process involving hormonal changes that occur as the doe's body mobilizes calcium in the production of milk. Feeds rich in calcium, as well as alfalfa and peanut (legume) hay, are believed to be the culprits. These products contain calcium in excess of what the doe needs at kidding time. This excess calcium sets off a chain reaction, causing calcium to be deposited in the doe's bones when her body needs to be releasing it from the bones for milk production. Hypocalcemia is a failure of the body's system to properly mobilize calcium. It is not a deficiency of calcium reserves.

The best way to prevent Hypocalcemia is to lower oral calcium intake in feed during the last 30 days of pregnancy. In most meat-goat herds, this can be done by eliminating legume hays (alfalfa & peanut hay) from the pregnant doe's diet. This puts the doe's body in a slightly negative calcium position, allowing the hormonal system to mobilize its calcium reserves. If legume hays are the only source of roughage available for feeding, then no calcium supplements should be fed during the last 30 days of gestation. Pregnant does on grass hay need to be fed a grain supplement containing 0.5% dicalcium phosphate or equivalent. Remember that rapid changes in feeding patterns cause ruminal acidosis, so make all changes slowly -- over 15 days.

Treatment for Hypocalcemia is to orally drench the doe with CMPK or MFO. Both products are available over-the-counter from Jeffers 1-800-533-3377. If caught early, Hypocalcemia is readily treatable. If allowed to progress untreated, it can result in enterotoxemia, mastitis, retained placenta, and death. Once again, improper feeding causes the illness.

Here is my article on kidding and what to expect: http://goat-link.com/content/view/36/33

IF you are unsure or uncomfortable about any of it at all - then I think I would be having a vet check her out to be on the safe side.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: I havent seen her have any discharge. She has been up and walking around more today than the past two days. This will be her second time being bred the first time we didnt even know she was pregnant she didnt show. She will eat some but will push it around and nibble some but seems to get tired of eatting it and just leaves it alone, which she never does. She doesnt seem to want to eat much hay either. She is constantly using the bathroom.

HI Makenzie:
hmm I think I would have a vet take a look  just to be safe - not eating is not good and while it may not show any sign of things gone wrong right away it sneaks up on them.. the rumen stops working and you end up with a very sick goat - maybe get her in tomorrow and have him  check her out..  keep in mind once you "notice" a goat is off or sick.. they have been that way for awhile,  goats  instincts are to hide illness because in a wild herd situation it keeps the herd safer. Other thing that may be wrong is she may have a dead fetus inside.. and cannot  expel it.. also a very serious situation.  Please do .. call the vet tomorrow.. get her in..  this is the best thing for you to do  right now.  Let me know what he says and how she is.  


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Specializing in New Goat Owner understanding of goat physiology, goat anatomy, goat care and herd management. *I am not a veterinarian, any advice and information should be verified by your veterinarian before administering to your goats. (! During times of severe weather in the Midwest, I may experience a delay in internet service due to the interference of the satellite reception - but will answer your questions as soon as service is restored. !) Note: Keep in mind, the goat expert is volunteering her time to help other goat owners, she also runs her farm with her own herd of 100 goats and may not be at her computer at all hours. Questions are answered as soon as she can possibly read and answer them, usually within 24 hours.


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