My first kidding season was one of the most exciting times of my life. Anxiously awaiting the arrival of adorable, cute, fluffy baby goats–it’s heaven. I spent hours out in the goat pen, taking pictures of doe hoo-has and udders, watching for “signs” of impending kidding. I’m sure my neighbors thought I was crazy–my husband sure did! So many times I thought, “This is the day!” and I’d gather all of my kidding supplies together and wait and watch, only to realize later that she was just throwing me for a loop. There was so much to learn, and I had zero experience.
One thing that was frustrating as a first time kidder was the lack of photos to help identify kidding signs. There are so many articles and blog posts about it, and my friends over at The Goat Spot were absolutely amazing with their advice and encouragement, but there were many times I thought I was seeing something that I simply was not. Once I actually saw these signs with my own eyes, it was very obvious. (Ohhhh, that’s what (fill in the blank) looks like!)
Thankfully, I took a whole lot of pictures. Looking at them now, it is easy to see the progression of my does’ pregnancies, and what signs they were actually exhibiting. I hope by sharing them here I am able to help my newbie friends decipher the mysteries of kidding with a little bit more pizazz than myself!
Now, a disclaimer (and you will read this EVERYHWHERE): All does are different! Your doe might have all the kidding signs or none of them prior to kidding. So while you are looking through these photos, just keep that in mind. Your doe might do things a little differently.
Secondly, I am not an expert by any means. I have been keeping goats for going on 4 years now, and this is simply what I have observed in my limited experience. If you are more experienced and notice something that I have gotten wrong or left out, I welcome your comments/critiques! 🙂
Now, on to the goodies!
SIGNS OF KIDDING
1. Belly drops
I had a hard time telling when the bellies of my does dropped. Even looking at these photos now it is hard to tell. I think Buttercream’s belly dropped a little more noticeably than Irmas (maybe because Irma is so dang fluffy).
Buttercream: Two weeks prior to kidding and five days prior to kidding
Irma: Two weeks prior to kidding and five days prior to kidding
2. Goo (or “streaming”)
Ok, kinda gross, but see that long string of goo dripping out of Irma’s hoo-ha? That is what we call “streaming”. This usually happens just prior to kidding (this was taken the morning of the day she kidded–she had her baby about 9 hours later). However, classic example of “all does are different”, Buttercream did not have any streaming at all–all of her goo came out as she kidded.
*EDIT* A few of my friends from The Goat Spot mentioned that Irma’s streaming looks similar to what loosing the mucus plug can look like. One of them graciously shared an awesome photo of her goat Tabitha streaming, which gives you a better idea of what the goo should look like! Notice how much goop is coming out. She was also in labor at this point.
3. Looking “posty”
This is the one I had the most trouble with…until I actually saw it. Looking “posty” means that the does hips and back legs have almost a square look about them. The back legs are spread and straight and facing forward. The ligaments in the back have loosened so that the kid(s) can make their way into the birth canal so everything is wider-looking than normal. Irma did not look “posty” until the day that she kidded. Buttercream did not really look “posty” to me prior to kidding, but it might have been that she had pretty badly out-turned legs.
4. Udder is huge and tight
Every time Irma’s udder got a little bigger in the weeks leading up to her kidding, I would think, “Wow, her udder is huge! I bet she’ll kid today!” Until the day she kidded, that is. It was another “Oh, so that’s what it looks like” moment for me. 😉
If you scroll back up to the “Belly drops” photos, you can see what a huge difference there was between Irma’s udder five days prior to kidding and the day of kidding (which is pictured here). See how tight that udder looks? It was very firm, chock full of milk for her baby.
5. Laying down with back legs outstretched
This is not a normal position for a doe to take. If your pregnant doe looks like this, she is probably about to start pushing her kid(s) out.
6. Crazy eyes
I don’t know how common it actually is, but Buttercream sure had ’em. I bet that’s what I looked like when I was mid-birth too.
7. Big bubble coming out of hoo-ha
That, my friends, is a baby coming out (or, literally, the amniotic sac). Sometimes a doe will push while standing. Buttercream did this for a short while, and then resumed her laying-down position to deliver her little kid, Hana.
Hopefully at this point you will be at the beginning of a safe and easy delivery. If all goes well, you will have this!
Sometimes the kids are positioned wrong and the mother may need help. I pray that this is not the case for you! However, it is always good to be prepared. Here is an awesome website with beautiful illustrations of the different kidding positions and how to assist when you need to.
I hope that these photos are a help to those of you who have never been through kidding before! It is such a fun and anxious time, and it is definitely nice to know what you are looking for as you wait for your doe to deliver her precious babies.