Predicting Goat Kidding; or, Why My Goats Think I’m Nuts

Reader Contribution by Maggie Bonham

I think trying to predict when kids are going to be born is part guesswork, part science, and part voodoo. I’ve been checking the prospective mothers to be and have been stymied. I generally know when they will give birth (I keep my does in with the buck several days to ensure that it took), but honestly, it all becomes guess and by golly. So I’ve resorted to “tried and true” methods for trying to guess when the little ones are coming out.


By the book: All the books and all the other goat owners have assured me that if the ligaments on the flank that lie either side of the tail have disappeared, kidding will commence in 24 hours. It’s even considered a “sure-fire method” of figuring out when the kid is coming out.

Reality: The ligaments in the tail and along the sides of the tail disappear and reappear all the time leading up to kidding. By this method, one of my does has been kidding the past three weeks.


By the book: Discharge is supposed to go from cloudy to clear. Kidding is then imminent

Reality: My goats are fleeing from me because I keep looking at their backsides. They’re yelling “pervert!” with each bleat. Most of them don’t have any discharge at all up until birthing. Then pop! There comes a kid.

Developing Udders

By the book: The udder will maybe start to fill, but could fill any time in the last month.

Reality: Udders can look big and swollen prior to kidding. Checking them out is another matter. My goats are convinced I’m a pervert trying to cop a feel.

Eating Habits Change

By the book:Doe stops eating.

Reality: Are you kidding me? My does are eating while popping out babies. Totally worthless information.


By the book: Doe gets more vocal and her voice changes before and while giving birth.

Reality: I did have one doe who did this. Too bad I sold her. And anyway, she didn’t get vocal when she had her kids this last time.

Vulva Swells

By the Book: The vulva swells getting ready to give birth.

Reality:See “Discharge” and “Pervert.”

Behavior Changes

By the Book: An aloof doe will get friendly. A friendly doe may get aloof or aggressive. Doe looks for a place to kid. Paws the ground.

Reality: Annie has been more aggressive these past three months. All the other does are running away because I’m checking their backsides. Heidi dug a hole in the kidding pen three weeks ago.

Load Shifts

By the Book: The kids drop lower in the doe’s belly to prepare to enter the birth canal.

Reality: I’ve been seeing this in all my does, but it can happen weeks before the kids come out.

As you can see, my goats aren’t thrilled with my examination and convinced I’m a pervert. They behave typically atypically and have none and all of the signs of being pregnant and getting ready to kid. None of these signs are actually good predictors. The best sign seems to be a nose poking out of the doe’s backside.

Sometime soon they’re going to kid. It’s been around five months.