Tell if a Goat Is Pregnant

If you're breeding goats, it is often not possible to know whether or not a doe is pregnant simply by looking at the goat. Some goats won't show much in the way of weight gain at all, so merely looking for weight gain isn't the simple solution. It is important to know as your pregnant goat's nutritional needs will increase, especially during the third trimester, and in some cases a lack of adequate nutrition can lead to the goat's death if it gets ketosis,[1] while milking a milk goat needs to end around two months before the kids are due.[2]


Checking for signs of pregnancy

  1. Be aware of the gestation period for a doe. Generally, five months is the length for a goat pregnancy.[2] Figure around 145 to 155 days as normal for the gestation period.[2][3]
  2. Look at the doe's size. Realize that this eyeballing test doesn't work with all goats and in fact, some does can look wide and therefore pregnant, and not actually be pregnant.[4] However, in some cases, the size of the doe will indicate that pregnancy is well underway and, along with other pregnancy signs, can confirm pregnancy.
    • Note that the doe's abdomen usually won't look larger until around three months of gestation.[2]
  3. Do a "pooch test". This refers to checking the area of the doe's vulva and anus to see a shape change.[5] Lift up the tail to check. It does help if you've checked either pre-pregnancy or in the first month, so that you know what looks "normal" and have a comparison image (yes, do take a smartphone picture to help you). About two to three months after conception, check this area again. If the doe is pregnant, the anus will drop away from the tail area and the vulva will appear longer, like a teardrop.[5] However, as with looking at the goat's belly size, this is subjective and based on good observation skills.
  4. See the vet or rather, have the livestock vet drop by the farm. The vet can do a blood test to check. However, goats can show a false positive and this may be accompanied by an increased belly.[2] If you want absolute certainty, ask the vet for an ultrasound. Since this is costly, not many breeders indulge in this unless absolutely necessary.

Close to kidding time

  1. Check for mood swings. The doe may act up and seem grumpy or cranky when closer to the due date for kidding.[6]
  2. Check for stringy mucus. Some does produce this, some don't. If you see it coming out of the back of the doe, this suggest that labor may occur any time within a few hours to a few days.[6]
  3. Check the udder. This tends to increase in size close to kidding time.[6] It may only do this several hours before kidding, depending on the goat as an individual and its breed. The udder may seem very solid and shiny when the kids are close to arrival.[6]
  4. Take note of bleating and searching. This is an innate action of looking for the kid or kids, even though they're yet to be born.[6] If the doe is wandering around bleating either softly or loudly and looks as if she's looking for something, it's time to get her ready for the birthing.
    • Note that twin kids are normal, as opposed to a single kid.[3]

Caring for a pregnant doe

  1. Ensure that the pregnant doe is well cared for. A pregnant doe must not be stressed; if she experiences any stress, she may abort the kids.[3]
  2. Feed the goat appropriately.
    • First three months: Maintenance rations are fine.
    • Near full term: Supply half as much feed again.
    • Give vet approved concentrates for extra energy, especially if the doe needs to stay warm.[3]
  3. Ensure that the doe has adequate access to shelter throughout the pregnancy. This is especially important if it's winter.
  4. Rid the doe of any internal parasites. Use an appropriate worming paste or formula your vet has recommended to you.


  • If pregnant does from fleece goat breeds are shorn before kidding, they must be kept warm. For at least three weeks after shearing, ensure that they remain warm. This may mean sheltering them and/or covering with blankets.[3]
  • You can try feeding a doe prior to birth. She may be very hungry or have no appetite at all it's at least worth trying.[6] She'll figure it out for herself.
  • The majority of kidding goes smoothly.[6][3]

Sources and Citations

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