Jill is five months pregnant. Our heat indexes across the state today ranged from 110 to 119 degrees. Jill is miserable. She spent a lot of time today laying under the workbench. Her breathing is just so fast with the heat and humidity.
I tried convincing her she would feel better if she went outside in the shade where she could get a breeze, but she didn’t listen to me. Finally, she did make it outside.
Usually, I do a great job of coming up with due dates for my girls. This winter was hard to know when they were bred, however, because of the many storms. Jilly was given the due date of June 11. By the time we got close to that, I had figured out she wasn’t really going to be due yet. I looked at the calendar and added three weeks because that is how long their heat cycle is. That meant July 2 would be her due date. Well, obviously, we’ve passed July 2nd.
Since I have no idea when she is due, I have to rely on the physical and behavioral signs. While every goat is unique, there are some signs that you can look for. Many of these are similar to humans.
1. They will lose the mucus plug. This might be up to a week before they actually go into labor, but it is an indication that they are getting close. A lot of times, you won’t even notice this. They might have extra discharge for a week before giving birth.
2. They will begin to spring. They are springing when their backside looks all puffy. I never really understood springing until I was due with my own child. Probably the best way to figure this out is to compare the unbred doe on the left to Jilly on the right.
3. Her pelvic bones are going to look more prominent. She’ll develop a hallow spot right in front of the pelvic bone as the baby (or babies) moves down towards the birth canal.
4. Obviously, they are going to get an udder as they get closer to delivering. One word of caution. If they are due in the winter when it is cold, they will not get as much of an udder. The milk tends not to come down until after the baby is born when it is cold. Just before they go into labor, their teats are going to become very tight and almost point outward. This is more noticeable on first time moms.
5. I just came across one indicator of impending birth at Easy Living the Hard Way. The condensed version is that the doe has to loosen her joints to allow the baby to pass through the birth canal. This can be seen by checking how far around the tail you can reach. Again, a comparison is the easiest way to see this. With Stormy, on the top, I am simply feeling the base of her spine. With Jill, the lower picture, my finger and thumb meet with only her skin between.
Because of these indicators, I know she is very close, so I am checking her frequently. Last night, I was up late because she was standing, raising her hips, tightening the muscles. She was having contractions, but about four in the morning, she laid down and went to sleep. She was having false labor or Braxton-Hicks contractions. When she is really starting to go into real labor, she’ll do the same thing: lots of standing and peeing. She might talk like she will talk to her baby when it arrives.
For Jilly, I’m guessing she’ll really go into labor and deliver tonight. The final reason for this is the severe storms in the forecast. It seems like I always end up in the barn whenever we have thunderstorm or tornado warnings. It would be nice if the severe weather missed us and she did have her babies tonight.
Do you know of any other signs a doe is about to give birth?