Is my goat pregnant?

Is my goat pregnant featured image

Tis the season for goat pictures to show up on social media, and we are not talking about cute kid pictures. We are talking about pictures of goat’s back ends! They are posted on people’s personal walls, on farm pages, and in goat groups with the question, “Is my goat pregnant?”

Just as there used to be lots of old wives tales about women and pregnancy, now there are lots of myths about figuring out if goats are pregnant. Some of these are loosely based on facts, but the accuracy of so-called “tests” is questionable. Here are a few of the ideas floating around the Internet …

The pooch test

This is probably every veteran goat breeder’s least favorite home pregnancy test! I remember after we had been raising goats for a few years, we realized that the vulva on some goats will get rather puffy towards the end of pregnancy.

Then I started seeing people online claim that by using the pooch test, they could tell with 100% accuracy if their goats were pregnant a month after they were bred! This tidbit has been published in so many places around the Internet that now those of us with goats get regularly assailed with pictures of goats’ back ends. Does the pooch test accurately tell you if your goat is pregnant?

Not with any degree of accuracy early in pregnancy, and by the end of pregnancy you will probably see an udder starting to develop before the vulva looks puffy. The biggest problem with this “test” is that it varies so much from one goat to another.

Is my goat fat or pregnant?

This frequently means another picture of a goat from behind, but in this case, the person is focusing on how wide the goat’s belly is.

Although some goats are very obviously pregnant, this is far from 100% accurate because many goats don’t look very pregnant even at four or five months. I’ve had a few goats that kept me guessing right up until they went into labor. Here is a little quiz. See if you can guess whether each of these goats is pregnant.

A.

pregnant Nigerian dwarf goat

B.

pregnant Nigerian dwarf goat

C.

pregnant Nigerian dwarf goat

D.

Nigerian dwarf goat that is not pregnant but is very wide

Did you guess that three are pregnant and one is not? Which ones did you think were pregnant? Most people think the goat in photo D is pregnant, but she is not. She has simply lost her girlish figure — just like some people do after having a few children. This photo was taken two years ago, and she is even wider now. Almost everyone who visits our farm asks when that goat is going to give birth!

The goat in photo A was three weeks away from kidding, and the goats in B and C were only a few days away from giving birth. If you thought any of the goats in the background of photo A were pregnant, you were incorrect. A goat’s owner may be able to tell when their goat is pregnant based upon how it looks, but total strangers (such as those in an Internet group) will be less likely to know if a goat looks pregnant because they have no idea what the goat normally looks like.

Want to know what goat D looks like when she is actually pregnant? She does not get any wider. Her abdomen simply lifts up and gets higher across her spine, and it also starts to hang lower. You’ll also notice that she has an udder in the picture below, which was taken a few days before she gave birth.

pregnant Nigerian dwarf goats

I saw kids moving in her belly!

Some people think that seeing movement in a goat’s belly means that she is pregnant, but that’s not always true. In fact, it’s rarely true. Check out this video …

 

So, how can I tell if my goat is pregnant?

The most dependable tests to determine pregnancy in goats are similar to pregnancy tests for humans. Keep in mind that a goat must be at least one month pregnant for accurate results.

Blood test — You can draw blood from a goat’s jugular vein and send it to a lab. If you have a lot of goats to test, you might want to learn how to draw the blood yourself to save money. Biotracking is the most popular lab that has this test available.

Milk test — Although there isn’t a urine test for goat pregnancy at this time, there is a milk test. This won’t help you with a doe that has never freshened before, but if you are milking a doe, and she’s been bred, you can send in a sample of her milk and have it tested to see if she is pregnant. Dairy One is one lab that offers this service.

Because a blood test is just testing for hormones, you will get a positive on a blood test, even if a doe is having a false pregnancy. Although it is very rare, it can happen. In a false pregnancy, an ultrasound would show a uterus full of fluid with no fetuses. For more info on that topic, click here.

Ultrasound — The gold standard of pregnancy testing is ultrasound but only in the hands of an experienced person. Many years ago we were told that several does were pregnant, and they all came into heat within a week after the ultrasound.

Note that ultrasound is not a great way to know how many kids a doe is carrying. I know one couple who was very worried when their doe didn’t give birth to a third kid that they were told she would be having. And I even know one person who was told that her doe was carrying seven — yes, 7 — when in reality the doe actually had twins!

Some people would also say that you can just wait and see if your goat gives birth, which is also an option. Remember that a goat comes into heat approximately every 21 days, so if she is not pregnant, you should see her come back into heat before you would even be able to use one of these pregnancy tests. However, it is possible to miss a doe’s heat if you are not in the pasture with them for hours every day. A doe might also have a silent heat.

If you are milking a doe, almost all of them will dry up by the time they are two to three months pregnant. However, that is not 100%. I know someone who said she had a la mancha doe that jumped off the milk stand one day, laid down, and pushed out a set of twins. Now she does blood testing every year.

This is Part 1 in our series on issues related to kidding season. Here is Part 2: Conducting a Newborn Check in Goat Kids and Part 3: Dam raised vs. the bottle: Socialization.

Update September 20, 2016 — There is now a urine test for checking pregnancy in goats, and it’s appropriately called P-Test. We have not used it ourselves though, and we have heard mixed reviews about its accuracy.

is my goat pregnant

50 thoughts on “Is my goat pregnant?”

  1. We are new to Nigerian goats and have two does we are working on breeding. One has had dates three times and no luck. We are just missing her heat. She is very subtle. The other one….what a tramp….crying for the boys so all can hear. She must be pregnant because we haven't heard any of that since her last date.

    Reply
      • Whenever a goat is down and won’t eat or drink, it’s time to call the vet, regardless of whether or not the goat is pregnant — assuming she is not actually in labor. But if she’s in labor, that’s usually pretty obvious because she’d be pushing and/or screaming. Goats in labor are usually up and down a lot because they’re looking for a comfortable position, and some even give birth standing up. Going off feed and water and refusing to get up are the three signs that something very serious is wrong. It could be anything.

        Reply
    • That so crazy my Nigerian goats are the same! One is very expressive and the other one has very quiet heats, we set them up with dates but neither of them were pregnant, and the one that is usually very expressive during her heat had no signs so we tried again and are hoping that they are pregnant ❤️

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  2. ^^^lol that's cute 🙂 my 2 does are kept with the buck at all times since they were 4 days old, and only recently has he began to stink, but it smells almost like the citronella I sprayed them with as an insect repellent back in the summer, though my spouse says it doesn't smell as nice as I think lol. The female alpine has not once acted like she was in heat, and she is 6 months old. Perhaps they haven't had their first cycle yet?? The female Sanaan has always had a sort of romance I call it with the male. She keeps close to him, always has, and he often nuzzles her and they graze together while the alpine goes off and does her own thing usually. I think it's sweet that they are lovers. They have behaved in such a way that I knew he was in a rut, he ruts quite often actually by the looks (lip curls up, back arches, he gets erections and drinks the females urine) but the females don't bleat, or act aggressive. The Sanaan is typically quiet and timid to begin with, and the alpine has always been the circus performer of the group and loves to run and climb and jump. They have both had quite large teats from the beginning as well, not engorged but large. And when I free range them they swell up in the rumen area so they look pregnant but only for a few hours. I would like to know if there is any other way to test them for pregnancy beside paying a vet? What does a normal vulva look like? I suppose I will have to just get a proper test done to be sure. I enjoyed reading the article thank you.

    Reply
    • You really should NOT leave the does with the buck because they should not be bred before they weight 60% of their adult weight. It is possible for them to have a silent heat, and even if they did have a raging heat, it would be too late for you to remove the buck at that point. If they get pregnant too young, you can wind up with birthing difficulties.

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    • I have a Nigerian Dwarf buck and an Alpine Dwarf doe and our Buck loves to dig underneath our fenced in lot that we built for both of them… but with that being said he is most of the time always out… When we let her out to go graze whether it be in the woods or we take them out in the field when she pees he always tries to either drink it or stick his nose in it…. It creates a very strong odor when we bring them back up towards the house… I was wondering if anyone knew of a way to get him to quit peeing on himself and to also quit trying to drink and smell her urine?? Please let me know as soon as possible… the only thing that anyone has told me is to castrate him and we are not done using him for breeding purposes so we dont want to stop him yet because he is still extremely young… Thank you all so much!!

      Reply
      • That is perfectly normal buck behavior. He won’t pee on himself as much if he is not with a doe. However, goats are herd animals, so he needs a male companion to stay with when you take him away from the girls.

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    • To the comment above, Oct. 27, you really should NOT keep young females with males before they are 8-9 months!! Females younger than that that get pregnant can have serious problems. I have had Nigerian Dwarfs for a few years, and when I first started, I had gotten very young bucks and does from various farms and breeders. They all said the same thing: keep them separated!! I was a little impatient to wait almost a year, so I got a older female. She kidded without problems and everything turned out great. My point is, think about the goats needs before your own wants.

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  3. I am new to Nigerian Dwarfs as well. I have one doe in milk, bun plan to breed her next heat cycle. I've been paying attention and I believe she was in heat last week. Her daughter is still too young, so will wait until she is about a year and breed her.

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  4. Sirbe:Kenya . M'y saanen d'or was served on 08/01/2016 last wk she had some p v bleeding, she look normal thou l cant tell if she lost the pg or evenfirst if she was pg.

    Reply
    • Bleeding can mean the doe lost the pregnancy but it does not always mean that. You would have to do a test or ultrasound to know for sure.

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  5. My experience with bleeding turned into a bad urinay track infection! Now how she got it we may never know…

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  6. I have a 9 month old Alpine Dwarf goat. My Buck is a Nigerian Dwarf. My girl went into heat when she hit about 7 months but Oh My Gosh my Buck has went into rut so many times it is not funny. There has been many instances that they have been together when she is in heat and he is rutting and she could possibly be pregnant.. My farm is located in North Carolina and I have called multiple large animal vets that the small animal vets referred me to but every time I call they say they do not have a probe small enough to do the test.. I was wondering if anyone knew what my next best option was?? This is my first time trying to kid out my does so I need some advice… If anyone could help me that would be great thanks!!!

    Reply
    • I replied last night on my phone and just realized it didn’t actually “reply” to this question, so in case you didn’t get notified, here’s my response —

      That’s little scary that your vets don’t know that they can do an abdominal ultrasound on a small goat, so probe size is not an issue — or that there is a blood test and a urine test for pregnancy. Links are in the post above, but urine test would probably be the easiest for you. I’d suggest finding a vet who knows more about goats so you have someone to call when you need one. You can also join our goat group — http://www.nigeriandwarfgoats.ning.com

      Reply
      • They are not saying that you cannot ultrasound a goat. They are saying that due to the size of the ultrasound probes they have they would not be able to get the image the appropriate size to visualize embryos on an animal the size of a goat. The size and type of ultrasound probe make a very big difference on the image size, depth and quality as well as the machine itself.

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  7. That’s little scary that your vets don’t know that they can do an abdominal ultrasound on a small goat, so probe size is not an issue — or that there is a blood test and a urine test for pregnancy. Links are in the post above. I’d suggest finding a vet who knows more about goats so you have someone to call when you need one. You can also join our goat group — http://www.nigeriandwarfgoats.ning.com

    Reply
  8. We bought a goat and she looks pregnant, because she has a milk bag that’s pretty big….but nothing happens. The previous owner sad that she was never with a male goat, but he could of got her through the fence.
    She is also very swollen.
    Should I be concerned that it could be something else?

    Reply
  9. I have a pygmy goat and she is always around our fainting buck. They have been together since we got them. Now she has this white stuff around her vulva and our male won’t leave her alone and now she just runs away from him and now I’m a little confused. What does it mean?

    Reply
    • Your goat is in heat. Mark your calendar for 145 to 150 days from now. She will probably have kids, assuming your buck is intact (has not been castrated). Males and females should not be left together all of the time. Fall is breeding season. Does are only in standing heat for a few hours, meaning that they will only stand for the buck for a few hours, then they go back to not wanting anything to do with them. The other thing I’m concerned about is that fainters tend to be larger than pygmies, and since the male is probably larger than the female, she could have birthing problems if the kids are too big. You need to be sure that you have a vet near you that sees goats in case she needs a c-section. Pygmies actually have more birthing problems that other breeds even when bred to pygmies. Goat vets are hard to find in some parts of the country.

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  10. In September last year I rescued a wild goat from the back of our farm. She would have been about a week to 10 days old. More recently in mid December we found a billy (he was about two weeks old then) by her house which is two or more kilometres from were we got her. We caught him pretty easy and they have been together for a bit over a month now. Would it be possible for her to be pregnant? We are fixing the Billy soon as we don’t want her to be at such a young age. We are pretty sure she has been on heat a couple of times but we are not 100% sure. Should we be worried?

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    • By the way they are New Zealand feral goats and apparently they descendant of many breeds of goat, such as Angora, Kiko, Spanish, Pygora, Boer, Saanen, Nubian and Alpine.

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    • It’s possible. There are instances of 3-4 month old bucks getting does pregnant, although it’s not common. If your doe is coming into heat, then she is definitely capable of getting pregnant.

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    • I would try searching Google or Facebook as a lot of real life groups have a website or Facebook page to keep members informed about what’s happening. In Illinois there is the Illinois Dairy Goat Association, so if you search for your state or area and then the name of the livestock you’re looking for, that might work.

      Reply
  11. We have three female Nigerian goats born April 2017. In January we put them in with a Nigerian Buck until today we brought them home. What do I need to watch for and is there any special feed I should feed them in case they are pregnant? We have them in a grass lot and they have grass-alfalfa as well. When should we have a vet ultrasound them? Any and all help would be great.

    Reply
  12. My 3 month old doe is in heat, we have been pretty successful in keeping the bucks (that are only 4 months old) away from her, until yesterday one of my bucks got into the doe enclosure, having been at work all day I do not know how long they were together, she does have white secretion around the vulva and the male has been spraying, how dangerous can this be for her if she is pregnant. Thanks

    Reply
    • She is WAY too small to be bred. A Nigerian doe should be at least 40 pounds before being bred, which they do not reach until at least 7 months at the earliest. Some don’t get that big until a year or even 18 months. It takes seconds for goats to breed, and seeing white discharge on her vulva does sound like she was bred. You could call the vet and explain what happened, and you can give her an injection of Lutalyse to end the pregnancy. It’s a prescription injection.

      Reply
      • so is it age or weight that one would go by in breeding a young doe. Our March doelings are all in great condition and although not the size of their dams they are good sized. I was going to wait until Spring to put them with the buck but would they come in heat that time of the year? I am so confused about the”fall” breeding thing. Can they not be coming in season anyother time of the year. i have read that waiting until they are a year old you can end up with not such great mothering , that breeding them a little younger is better. The Boer/Kiko cross doelings are already bigger than their Boer dams? The Kiko/kiko spanish doelings are not as tall as their dams yet? They have definitley been in heat this fall and are not with the buck at all. They all know each other is out there and he has been close to their pen and wants to be with them. They are probably out of season now, but will come back in again. Is 8 months too young, I don’t want to hurt them

        Reply
        • They need to be 65% of their mature weight before breeding to avoid having kids that are too big for the doe to birth. If they are as tall as their mothers, they are probably there. Lots of does hit that size by 8 months and do great.

          I’ve surveyed goat owners who have Nigerian dwarf and Kinders, which are two breeds that supposedly are year-round breeders, and it’s really only about 1/2 to 2/3 of them that seem to do that. I would not count on being able to breed for fall kidding. Most breeds will come into heat until about January, and then that’s it until next fall — assuming you are in the northern hemisphere.

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  13. I have a 5 yr old pygmy goat that I purchased for her retirement years, per the breeder. But I’ve had her now 2 and a half months and she has a soft bulge growing under her abdomen. She was just a breeder goat I’m told by the breeder. I have only female boar goats (2) I have never nor did I intend to deal with breeding. She is quite wide but that’s how she came to us. Any ideas?

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  14. How can you tell if your doe is in a silent heat? What are the signs? Last year we had the same doe–came into heat. She didn’t come back into heat after 21 days so we assumed she was pregnant. She was not . This year because it has taken longer for nights to be cooler all our does have come into heat later. Three of the four have come into heat–but the one that wasn’t pregnant last year still shows now signs of being in heat. She is 7 years old. She is not copper deficient.
    Would you have any advice what to do? Thank you

    Reply
    • There are no signs of silent heat. It really has the perfect name. A buck can figure it out, but humans would have no way of knowing. If she’s showing no signs of heat, but she lets a buck breed her, then it’s a silent heat. Keep in mind that she could have come back into heat last year, and you just missed it. It’s easy to miss it unless you’re in the pasture all the time. If you have a pen where you could put her with a buck for a month or two, that usually works. Some does don’t come into heat unless they are with a buck.

      Reply
  15. I have a pygmy female and a Nigerian pygmy male that have been together for a while. And I have observed her while in heat get down on her front knees in front of him with her tail end up in the air as if saying come on..and he was in rut he even puts his face in her urine stream but the few times I saw her do this he did not try to mount. Is he just not interested or are they breeding in secrecy?

    Reply
    • Goat breeding takes literally seconds. If you blink, you will miss it. Years ago a woman bought goats from me and kept emailing and complaining that they weren’t getting bred. Then one day she called in a panic because they were both in labor!

      I hope you have a buddy for each of them because they should be put in separate pens now. Bucks are not gentlemen when they are around does, and they’ll drive them crazy.

      Reply
  16. Hi
    I bought a nubian goat about 3 months ago and they said she might be pregnant. Her udder has really swollen up and is massive but isn’t hot or hard, although she doesn’t like me to touch! is she about to give birth?

    Reply
    • Congratulations! Sounds like you’re going to have kids! It’s not unusual for them to not want you to touch the udder before they kid, so don’t worry about that. I don’t know how big it is, but it could get even bigger before she kids. Some of them really look like they’re going to explode. Be sure to look over my Beginner’s Guide to Goat Birthing so that you know what to expect.
      https://thriftyhomesteader.com/goat-birthing-beginners-guide/
      If you have questions about anything, just ask!

      Reply
  17. I am completely new to the goat world. I got four nigerian dwarf goats (2 female and 2 males) from a lady who didn’t seem to handle them on a regular basis, so all four are afraid of humans. The old owner told me that the two girls were pregnant? I am at a loss of how to get them to be friendly. I take their feed out every day and hand feed them, so they come up to me when I have the feed bucket, but will not allow me to touch them. If the two females are pregnant, which I’m not positive they are, do I need to separate them from the two male goats? Do the need a birthing pen? They ALL head butt each other non stop? Which bothers me. They’ve never tried to head butt me or my children, they just run from us :(.
    I would like to milk the girls eventually but if I can’t catch them I don’t see how that will work? Also they all have horns and the older male has big horns! A little intimidating right now! Any help would be greatly appreciated. I’ve enjoyed reading your goat blog!!!

    Reply
  18. Goat D looks like my Santa Fe- she’s a Sanubian (we think) and has lost her figure, but when she’s pregnant, everyone calls her Triple Wide.

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  19. Hi Jenny I had purchased two goats that we literally had to tackle to catch. I worked with them every day by putting a leash on them and force touch and petting them I would give them a treat if they let me touch them. The girl came around faster than the boy but you say you hand feed leash them and touch them while feeding. Brush them, sit with them if you can with treats. Show them your, not a threat. Going down to their level does help. The more you do this the quicker the reward. It’s very rewarding when you can finally touch your goats.
    Debbie

    Reply
  20. I have a goat that I cannot tell if she is fat or pregnant. I found online a urine test call P-Test. It says it is 95+% accurate. Are you familiar with these and if this is true? Trying to get more information before calling a vet out.
    Thanks!

    Reply
    • I haven’t used it myself, and I have heard mixed reviews from people who have tried it. Before you call the vet out, be sure they are experienced with ultrasound in goats, if that’s what you choose. I know of more than one case where a vet said a goat was pregnant and they were not.

      Reply

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