The saga of our milking goat’s pregnancy…
I’ve been a goat owner since July 2014. I’m very much a newbie when it comes to goat ownership. The folks on the goat forums that I frequent can vouch for that as they must be positively sick of hearing my thoughts and questions.
It seems like we’ve been back and fourth about if our goat is pregnant or not and the daily question is, does this mean it baby time?
You might remember me mentioning our doe being due to kid (translation- our female goat being due to have babies) this winter. If you don’t remember, here is the background story:
When we bought our breeding pair of goats we knew that our little buckling (our juvenile male goat) could very likely breed our older doe right away if they were left together.
A combination of not having enough fencing, wanting them to be free to “free range” the property and them being lonely resulted in them hanging out together much of the summer and part of fall.
We’d witnessed many “moments of love” between them so when there happened to be a vet drawing blood here at the farm we opted to have our doe’s blood drawn too. To test her for pregnancy.
The vials of blood were sent off, the results were in. The lab tech called to say “congrats!” and we made plans for goat babies in the winter. I had the lab send us a hard copy of the test results.
Nathan built me a pallet goat barn, we got two separate pens put up, we dried the mama to be off in preparation for the babies and we waited and watched.
Her due date was getting close around Christmastime so I pulled up the emailed pregnancy test results from the lab to confirm her due date. Once I looked closely at the results I was confused so I called them because it showed her “open” but also 32 days bred as of the blood test date. How can she be bred and open? Open means she’s not bred.
The lab pulled up my file and informed me that based upon the numbers (0.094) her “Pregnancy-Specific Protein B” did not fall within the pregnant range (>0.21) and she was not pregnant at that time.
This was devastating news as our family milk producer was now dried up in anticipation of the return of her milk this winter. If she’s not bred and we can’t get her bred before the days start getting much longer then we will likely have to go the rest of 2015 without fresh milk for the family.
This is a major issue as most of us have issues with digesting cows milk and one of us seems to even be having problems with the store bought goats milk (it’s pasteurized, our hand milked goats milk is not).
I’ve been in a panic and have been really watching our doe for signs of breading readiness since we possibly have a month or so to still get her bred. Right after leaning about the pregnancy test flub we put her back with our buckling as to not miss an opportunity to breed her.
It’s been rough because some of her signs & signals seem like pregnancy. Her body has been changing. She has a consistent bulge on her right side- where goats tend to carry their pregnancies. At the beginning of January her udders started to grow, another pregnancy indicator known as “bagging up”.
Then my handy barn video monitor let me glimpse this:
So now we know she’s in the mood to breed which supposedly only happens when she’s not already bred… so we have our unfortunate answer about the pregnancy. She’s still not pregnant.
Some folks told me about how some does will self suck, meaning she’s nursing her own udder and that like in humans, mammary stimulation can bring about the production of milk. The technical name for this is “precocious udder”.
Other causes for a growing udder (besides pregnancy) can be mastitis so I tried miking each of my doe’s teats to check for clumps, blood, odd colored milk, clogs, etc. Her milk came easily, clean and it was more than I expected!
So now I’m milking my dairy goat, without having to have had her bred. I’m not holding my breath that her milk will stay but I’m going to try increasing her milk output by regularly milking her. She last had babies nine months ago and was dried off three months ago. Here is what she gave me today:
As you can see in the goat mating pictures above, our 60-80lb buckling is still tiny compared to our 120lb full grown doe. His legs are short and those reproductive organs aren’t really lining up right now : / We’ve tried having him stand on things to help but they aren’t that interested in supervised breeding- Can’t say that I blame them.
Hopefully the loving mood in the goat barn gets us a pregnant doe who will make us milk like things are supposed to work out but in the meantime I’m happy to get just under a pint of fresh milk from her a day. It’s better than nothing right? Besides, nothing with us ever seems to work out how it’s supposed to. LOL.