Pregnancy and Postpartum Goat Care
In my previous post of this series, I talked about Baby Goat Care Basics. And it may seem a little backwards to talk about pregnancy and postpartum goat care after sharing my post about kidding. Well, there are a couple of reasons why I did things in this order.
First off, we are in the middle of kidding and I wanted to share some of our little kid cuteness.
And secondly, we have mamas who are postpartum, so I wanted to keep the topic relevant to what is happening on our homestead currently.
I hope that this isn’t too confusing for anyone. But please feel free to click through the links in whichever order you prefer.
But let’s start with the basics…
A doe will typically reach puberty by six months. This can vary slightly for some as they may reach fertility sooner. Although some goats may breed seasonally, some will be able to breed year round. This can be problematic if goats aren’t separated and pregnancies aren’t spaced. Back to back pregnancies can take a toll on the health of the doe.
Our Boers and Pygmies are some that can breed year round. We don’t want to do this.
So, we have to separate our bucks for the sake of the health of our does. We allow our does to be bred naturally by allowing the bucks and does time together. Our breeding season begins in August so we expect kids to be born in January.
The very first step to breeding is to have a doe in heat. They typically cycle every 18-21 days or so and how long one stays in heat can vary for a number of reasons. For us, we use our males to breed our does naturally, but there are also a variety of things that you do.
Natural pen breeding with your own buck, leasing or renting a buck, and artificial insemination are a few options for breeding your does.
If you don’t have your own buck, you can easily detect if your doe is in heat by using a buck rag. By using a rag to rub on the head and belly of the buck who is in rut. Place in an airtight container and take it to your home and allow your doe to smell the rag. Try this a few times throughout the day. If your doe becomes excited, then it’s time set her up on a date with the buck.
How can you tell if a buck is in rut?
Here are a few of the signs:
- Aggression – butts, rears up.
- Lip curling
- Tongue wagging
- Scent – very strong odor
- Frequent erections
- Urination – urinates on face, and front legs
So, the date was successful and your doe is expecting, now what?
Goat Pregnancy Care
The gestational period is approximately 5 months or 150 days. We bring our mama goats back from pasture after they have been bred. We provide our goats with high quality hay, grain, and herbs. This is important for their overall health.
Also beneficial is ensuring that they have proper supplements. We provide ours with salt and mineral tubs on occasion.
I am a huge promoter of natural health as a preventative and supplement all of our livestock with herbal remedies. If you haven’t grabbed your copy of my “Herbs on the Homestead” eBook, you can do so here! I share the most common used herbs, their benefits and uses. Plus, it also includes several recipes.
Herbal Pregnancy Supplement
- 2 tbsp dried red raspberry leaf
- 1 tbsp equal combination of dried mint, oregano, and chamomile.
Dose 3 tablespoons for larger goats and 1 ½ tablespoons for smaller breeds once a day. I like to mix it in with their feed.
Red raspberry leaf is super beneficial for a healthy pregnancy. It tones the uterus and helps during the labor process.
Postpartum Goat Care
Labor is rough and a mama would appreciate a little boost. A little molasses mixed with warm water, or a mineral block are great supplements.
I like to give our does time to relax and bond with their newborns. Also, allow mama time to eat her placenta and discard any that she may not eat. Although, we haven’t had to do that yet.
A day after the birth, provide the mama with a wormer.
There isn’t too much else that we need to do after the birth other than ensuring that the doe is being a good mama, allowing her newborns to nurse, and providing proper care to them. I also like to periodically check on the mama’s health to ensure she’s doing well.