Do you think your goat is close to kidding? Here are 9 signs of goat labor to tell you if your goat will kid in the near future!
Waiting for a goat to kid can be almost as stressful as waiting for your own baby to be born! It’s a waiting game- looking for every little signs that tells you today is the day.
A goat’s gestation period is 150 days- sometimes they can go a bit early and sometimes late, but anything from 145-155 days should be okay.
Each goat is different- so keeping good records of dates and symptoms can help you discover patterns in your herd, which can help you predict when kidding will happen that much sooner!
Not sure when your goat will kid? Be sure to use a goat due date calculator and write that date down!
Pick up a copy of my Busy Homesteader’s Goat Management Binder to help you keep track of all the most important tasks, records, and information all in one place. Includes record sheets for your herd to keep track of breeding and kidding, plus checklists to make sure you don’t miss anything!
How to Tell if Your Goat is in Labor
Since you should already be checking on your goats daily, be aware of small changes that happen to your does as they get closer to their delivery date.
There are quite a few goat labor signs that will let you know that kidding is close and that you should be checking on your doe more frequently. Here are 9 of the signs that can tell your that your goat is in labor.
A Full, Tight Udder
About 4-6 weeks before kidding you should start to see growth in your does udder as it slowly fills in preparation of kidding. But just before delivery the udder will fill more completely. The skin will look tight and almost shiny. If you see this there is a good chance kidding will happen in the next 24 hours.
Just like with humans, not all signs of labor happen with all goats. This sign is usually more apparent with first fresheners, and sometimes a goat’s udder will not fill completely until after delivery.
The Loss of Tail Ligaments
There are 2 ligaments that run alongside where the tail meets the spine. In a non-pregnant goat these ligaments will feel like pencils, but as pregnancy progresses they soften and about 24 hours before kidding the ligaments will have softened so much they will have seemed to disappear.
If you try to wrap your fingers around the spine at the tail head your fingers should almost touch.
This can take a bit of practice to get a feel for, so try feel for the ligaments on non-pregnant, late pregnancy, and goats at their due date to feel the differences. This is one sure fire way to tell if your goat will give birth soon.
Related Reading: 10 Medications No Goat Owner Should Be Without
Discharge is often one of the first signs that your goat is closer to kidding, but unfortunately it can happen weeks before the big day.
The amount of discharge is often what will tell you the most. If your doe has a lot of heavy discharge, she is probably close to going into labor for real!
This is one of the goat labor signs I look for as a first sign. As the kids drop lower into the birth canal they will put pressure on the goat’s rear end causing it to swell and open slightly.
When I see a doe with a noticeably more swollen vulva I know she’s close- usually 1-5 days. This is when I start to do barn runs more often and start looking for other signs that tell me labor is near.
Behavior changes can tell you a lot about how a goat is feeling. When my most social doe doesn’t run to the fence when I come to say hello, but instead stays pressed against the barn, I know something is up.
This is especially true if I am there with a feed bucket! If she is just off grazing in another area, that is okay. But if you see her just standing around, not chewing her cud. Then you should think about putting her in a kidding stall.
Another sign that usually means delivery will happen in the next couple of hours (or minutes) is standing alone with her head pressed against a wall or corner. This is usually a sign of contractions, pain, and bearing down.
Related Reading: Identifying and Treating Selenium Deficiency in Goats
Just before kidding your goat will likely separate from the herd. You might see her pawing at the ground and laying down, getting up, repositioning herself over and over again. She is trying to make her nest for kidding.
You may also notice her “talking” to her belly during this time. These nesting signs usually tell you that labor will start fairly soon.
Sunken Sides/Prominent Hip Bones
This is another first sign for me. As the kids drop lower and enter the birth canal, your goat’s body will change in appearance. Her spine and hip bones will stick out and be more prominent.
And her sides will sink in and she may appear a bit skinny compared to the weeks prior. Her belly will appear to hang lower too.
I usually see this sign about the same time as the swollen vulva- about 1-5 days prior. And it tells me I need to up my barn runs.
Like with the sunken sides and prominent hip bones, the tail will change as labor gets closer. It will become a bit crooked in appearance- almost hooked. And it will stay that way until after delivery.
Contractions are a sure sign that labor is starting. You will see her arch her back and her tail will become even more crooked. You may notice her breathing heavy or panting between or during each contraction. If you see these, keep a close eye on her. You could be holding new babies very soon!
And that’s it! 9 signs to look for that will tell you that your goat is in labor- or will be very soon! Check out my Kidding Kit for everything you will need for the big day!
Goat Labor Signs and Pregnancy FAQ:
How long is a goat pregnant?
A goat is pregnant for an average of 150 days. Be sure to write down your goat’s due date and start looking for signs of labor about 5 days before this estimated due date.
How many kids does a goat usually have?
Goats can deliver up 1-4 kids (though 5 is not unheard of). Twins is the most common.
Do goats kid standing up?
This will be the personal preference of your doe. Some like to deliver standing up and some like to lay down. Either is normal.
How long does goat labor last?
From the first signs your goat is in labor to delivery can be as much as 12 hours. Remember many of the goat labor signs are just signals to you that your goat is getting close and not actual early labor. Once your doe is in active labor, she will normally kid within an hour.
How do I know if something is wrong?
Most of the time your goat’s labor will go fine with no intervention from you. Remind yourself to be patient and not jump to conclusions. Just like sometimes human labor can last days instead of hours, goat can to. Keep an eye on your doe. Look for signs that she is in pain or struggling. Look for signs of fetal movement to help ensure the kids are still alive. Intervene when absolutely necessary only.
Great article. You have some signs that I haven’t seen mentioned before. Adding this to my notes. Thanks!
I like this article. I have does due this spring and this helps me to know the sines to check for each step. Thanks so much.
I have a doe that has been having noticeable contractions every couple hours for the past 3 days… this morning I saw a little bit of discharge and more residue farther down beneath her vulva. Her milk has not come in though she does have swelling of the vulva and her sides have dropped in a lot. She has been both nesting and standing with her head against the wall periodically for the past 4 days. She has had 1 previous pregnancy and delivered in assisted with no complications…
Do you think that I should be worried? We got her 4 months ago and she was not supposed to be pregnant, but when she had a false labor 3 weeks ago with no kids we took her to the vet and it is confirmed that she is pregnant, so we really have no idea when she is due
At this point I don’t think I’d worry. If she seems in distress or is in active labor with no progress then I would worry. But by the sounds of thing she may just be in prelabor and is probably getting close and I’d definitely keep a close watch on her.
Hi my first time having a miniature goat that pregnant n I need help her tail is laying down her udder is pretty full early she was laying down nuttier was a big bulge from her backside push out quite a bit just needing some answer or help ?
Do you have an approximate due date? Usually you will see their tail up more the closer they get- it gets kind of crooked. The udder can start building about 6 weeks before- but it gets FULL, like so full the skin is shiny, just before (sometimes, not always). The babies will also push out like that when the doe lays down.
This is my first time kidding I have a Nigerian and she has thick discharge coming out of her vulva I thought she was probably going to have them in April but how long do you think it will be since this is her first and mine
Hi this is my third brith and I have a goat that has pussey discharge coming out do you have any Idea what that could be from I had me vet check her out she said everything was fine but I just went to check on her and she won’t let me feel her stomach at all and when I do she try’s to kill you.
Our Nubian gave birth to one kid and 22 hours later she gave birth again to two kids. One died and my daughter was there and saved the other. Never knew something like this could ever happen.
Sir my 3 months pregnant goat having decharge from 2 days,what can I do
hii my goat also pregnant she also first tym to kidding i cant understand how to know when she was giving birth
It says crooked tail almost hooked. Will it be hooked down or up?
I’m pretty sure my doe is going to birth today, because she has put her self away from the others, and the others ain’t coming into the paddock she is, and she has made her self comfortable in one of the stalls,my question is last year she gave birth to twins both still born she was a first timer, will she alright this time.
Plz tell me that my goat is about to labour but their udder is full but the milk not come in for baby’s plz tell me about this my goat have 5 days to go for labour
I have been seeing over half of these signs and I’m very excited to have little babies ??
Pls I have forgotten the day it convince
So how can I tell that it left with one week to give birth
My little goat got pregnant when she was about four months old. She is due any time should I be worried as to her having a hard time delivering