Breeding for Success
The basics of fainting goat pregnancy is of the utmost importance for any breeder to know. The success of your herd is dependent on many factors, such as:
- good reproductive function
- the overall health of your animals
- the animals’ diet
- the environment the animals are raised in
- the amount of stress on the animal.
It therefore stands to reason, that the profitability of your farm can be linked, at least in part, to:
- the number of kids born
- the number of kids weaned from the nanny goat
- the frequency of new kids being produced.
When the exciting day comes and some lucky goats get the opportunity to pass their genes onto the next generation, then you’ve got kids on the way! You’ll no doubt have some questions about the gestation process and keeping your does healthy while they’re pregnant.
Fainting Goat Pregnancy Testing
After your animals have bred, you’ll want to make sure the act was successful. The fine folks at Florida A&M University say that there are a few observations you can make to determine whether your doe is pregnant.
First, and perhaps the easiest and least expensive method for determining pregnancy is observation. Check your does every 21 days from the date that you first saw them in heat. If they are in heat, then they are not pregnant.
Second, observing the general physical condition of the does can be an indicator or pregnancy and the amount of progress in the animal’s gestation. Does that are later in their pregnancy will most likely have enlarged udders, as well as possibly an enlarged abdomen and vulva area. Enlarged abdomen and vulva area are perfectly fine and are expected in pregnant goats.
Third, a trained technician or veterinarian can perform an ultrasound on your doe. This will help detect the early signs of pregnancy, as well as tell you how many kids each doe is carrying, their sex, and give an appraisal of their viability (Florida A&M). This kind of testing, however, can be expensive.
Finally, you can determine fainting goat pregnancy in your does by collecting blood samples or milk and sending them off to a diagnostic lab for testing. This can also be an expensive method for determining pregnancy, as you will have to pay for each sample, and possibly for veterinary services if you need assistance in collecting the blood samples.
The Pooch Test
The fainting goat breeders at the American Fainting Goat Organization have their own method for determining whether a doe is pregnant. They call it the “pooch test.” When a doe becomes pregnant, the shape of her vulva changes from its normal shape and elongates to more of a teardrop shape. The farther along the doe is in her pregnancy, the longer and more wrinkled her vulva becomes. These changes can be seen as early as 21 days past breeding. Read more about the Pooch Test here.
What to Expect When Your Goat’s Expecting
On average, the length of fainting goat pregnancy is 150 days, or about 5 months. As far as feeding goes, the first few months of pregnancy should be fairly normal. Your does should have plenty of hay, free choice minerals, clean water, and the regular amount of grain. According to the Langston University Goat Program, during the early stages of pregnancy, the chance of embroyinc losses are typically 20 to 30 percent higher than in later pregnancy. Factors that can contribute to the loss of a pregnancy in goats include “environmental stress caused by heat, nutrition, or even doe age. During early pregnancy, the kid is just an embryo and it is also extremely sensitive to a wide range of drugs and mineral deficiencies” (Langston University).
During a goat’s pregnancy, high levels of progesterone help to inhibit uterine contractions until kidding and helps to support the pregnancy overall. Miscarriages due to low progesterone are more common in goats than in sheep. Improper nutrition, deficiencies in vitamins and minerals, toxic plants, and some drugs (like levamisole) can contribute to miscarriages as well. Multiple late miscarriages, sometimes referred to as an ‘abortion storm,’ suggest something infectious in your animal, such as chlamydiosis or toxoplasmosis (Langston University).
Middle and Later Pregnancy
In the middle of the fainting goat pregnancy you should monitor your does for signs of miscarriage, such as bloody discharge around the vulva area. You should also monitor the does’ BCS and FAMACHA scores bi-weekly (Florida A&M University).
During the last six weeks of pregnancy, it is important to vaccinate your does with C&D tetanus toxoid to pass the immunity on to the kids. It may be necessary to increase the amount of feed during the last 2-4 weeks of pregnancy, which is when 70% of the fetal growth occurs. However, be careful not to over feed your animals as does that are too fat may have trouble kidding (Florida A&M University). On the other hand, underfeeding can lead to low milk production, low birth weights, and poor kid survival rates.
You may want to give a second injection of vitamin E/Se to aid in embryonic development, although this is optional. Direct handling of the doe is not recommended as that can cause stress on the animal.
During middle pregnancy, the researchers at Florida A&M University also suggest: taking monthly fecal samples to monitor for parasites, taking monthly body condition scores, observing the animals for signs of miscarriage, and checking the color of the animal’s gums to assess the FAMACHA score (by matching the color of your goats’ gums to a color chart to determine if they need deworming).
Wonder what comes next? Check our baby goat care page for information on how to care for your newly born kids.
For some more reading on pregnancy in fainting goats, you may be interested in How to Raise Goats by Carol Amundson.