September 2013 Issue



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Subscribe FREE now! Monthly issues with new articles and other educational information on meat goat health, nutrition, and management written by Suzanne W. Gasparotto of Onion Creek Ranch and Pat Cotten of Bending Tree Ranch. In all cases, it is your responsibility to obtain veterinary services and advice before using any of the information provided in these articles. Neither Suzanne Gasparotto nor Pat Cotten are veterinarians. None of the contributors to this website will be held responsible for the use of any information contained herein.


You've put a buck with your does and you want to know if the does "settled" ( successfully bred). To understand signs of breeding, read my article entitled Behavioral and Mating Habits of Goats on the Articles page at

Gestation in goats averages 150 days (five months) but can range from 147 to 155 days. It has been my experience raising goats since 1990 that the first visible sign of pregnancy is a rounded belly -- not her sides but the bottom of her body upon which she sits. This usually occurs about 3-1/2 months (100 days) of gestation. Older does who have kidded multiple times and whose body barrels have stretched may be more difficult to evaluate visually.

An ultrasound test can be done no sooner than 30 days of gestation to determine if the doe is bred and the number of fetuses she is carrying, but (a) you must have some idea of breeding date, and (b) the fetal (unborn baby) count at time of ultrasounding is not necessarily equal to the number of kids born at parturition (birthing). A bred doe can lose unborn kids at any time during her pregnancy. Investigate costs before deciding to use this procedure. Many vets perform ultrasound tests.

About six weeks before kidding, a doe that has never kidded before (first freshener) usually begins forming an udder ("make a bag") very slowly. A doe that has kidded before tends to "bag up" closer to kidding date -- sometimes as late as several days before she gives birth. During the last six weeks of pregnancy, the doe's body will begin to round out on her right side as well as the bottom of her belly; her rumen is on the left side, so multiple fetuses will take up rumen space and can make the left side larger than usual too.

Sometimes you can feel kids move by "bumping" the underside of the doe's belly. As the doe gets close to kidding, her base-of-tail ligaments tend to loosen as the kid(s) move into birthing position. I've never had much success with "bumping" unborn kids or feeling the loosening of these ligaments because my goats are so heavily muscled. I tend to rely upon visual observation of udder formation, changes in abdominal shape, and mucous secretions from the vaginal opening to determine closeness to kidding.

A relatively new test for pregnancy in goats is called BioPRYN. This test is manufactured and sold by Bio Tracking, LLC of Moscow, Idaho (telephone 208-882-9736, Pacific Time Zone). Using two cc of blood drawn from a doe at no sooner than 30 days post breeding or any time thereafter, the test measures the presence of Pregnancy-Specific Protein B (PSPB) which is only produced by the placentas of growing fetuses. The test is 99% accurate if a doe is determined to be open (not pregnant). The test is 95% accurate when it finds a doe to be pregnant. The difference is attributable to embryonic loss (embryos that died/aborted). Blood must be drawn and sent to one of several laboratories identified on the website. Results are available in a few days and the cost (September 2013) is about $6.50 per goat. Laboratory forms and instructions for blood draw are on the company's website. To the best of my knowledge, this is currently the most accurate and cost effective method of determining pregnancy. You must decide if it is important enough to you to know if your does are pregnant to justify the cost of testing.

Because of the number of goats involved in my breeding operation, I keep track of the time frames that my does are bred and watch their bodies and their udders for signs of pregnancy and kidding. But I can see the value of testing does for pregnancy for many producers.

Suzanne W. Gasparotto, Onion Creek Ranch, Texas 9/13/13


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