Friday, May 10, 2013

Signs of Impending Birth

Find yourself looking at the south side of your goats a lot lately? I've been doing just that to not only my goats but a couple friend's goats as well. I was assisting a gorgeous doe named Capella yesterday and once more the signs of impending birth came to mind as I checked my friend's other goats as well. I may get another phone call as one looked pretty close.  

What was I looking for? I'm looking for the hollow indent in the top flanks showing me that the kids have dropped positioning themselves into the birth canal.

I'm looking for a raised tail head showing me that the muscles have loosened allowing the passage of kids.

 I'm looking for a doe that lays down a great deal because she feels like the baby is going to fall out if she doesn't.
(One of Megan's bucks saw an opportunity and dived across the milk stand to latch hold when I had gotten her up to milk. She is feeding these two plus producing a half gallon a day of milk for us. We are so please with this two year old.)
And I'm looking for a swollen tight udder.  The does's hips will begin to tip downward and their back legs will become more posty than before in order to hold up the shift in weight. The vulva will sometimes be pink and swollen. 

These are all signs that can and I repeat CAN happen before giving birth. Yesterday, Capella's udder was not full, her tail head was not as raised as I'm use to but yet it was loose and she didn't sink in in the flanks as much as I'm use to either. Because of this her owner went off to work thinking she was in the clear that day. You aren't always warned but usually if you are watching closely you will have a good idea what is to come.

Keep in mind that each goat is an individual and every birth a bit different from the last. A particular goat will have some habits and so history is helpful. If a goat gives birth in the morning she will likely give birth within a few hours of that time the next year. 

And though you are looking for all the pre-signs and your doe had a full udder last year before giving birth she might not do so this year. Unpredictability is the only thing you can count on. 

Madeline, the brown goat and Capella's daughter, has had a raised tail head for a couple weeks. Never had one do that so soon before but there is always a first. What I look for is progress of symptoms and a quickening of change which happens right before birth.  In hours the does udder will begin to swell must faster than before, her sides will sink downward, her tail head will become more pronounced and she insists on being in the shed.

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