Were you absolutely sure that goat was pregnant, but she never kidded, and now she doesn’t look as big as she did last week?
It is possible for a doe to get bred and stop cycling and even to get a big belly and develop an udder and appear to be pregnant in every way, yet not be pregnant. “False pregnancy” is used synonymously with “hydrometra,” which simply means water in the uterus. Because the hormones are involved, a blood test shows a false positive.
An ultrasound examination is the only foolproof way of determining pregnancy, but blood tests are still popular because they are less expensive and breeders can learn to draw blood themselves, reducing costs further. Because false pregnancy is rare, blood tests are still considered very reliable. A false pregnancy may not last for five months. It usually ends in a “cloud burst,” which is basically a release of all the uterine fluids without a kid or placenta.
Some false pregnancies started with a real pregnancy that terminated very early but the body didn’t recognize there was no longer a fetus. However, in some cases of false pregnancy, the doe has not even been exposed to a buck.
This is an excerpt from Raising Goats Naturally: The Complete Guide to Milk, Meat, and More by Deborah Niemann.
For more information, check out our podcast episode on Cystic Ovaries and Other Reproductive Problems in Goats with Dr. Jamie Stewart, vet professor at Virginia Tech.
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