The time from mating to kidding of a goat is called her gestation period. Usually gestation period of a goat lasts for about 150 days. They need extra care, feeding and other management during this period. Closely monitor their activities and always take good care of them. When a goat is heavily pregnant, watch her right side, you will see the movement of her kids.
Usually a doe nurses her kids by herself until eventual weaning. Some commercial dairy goat producer used to raise the kids separately form their mother for better milk production. On the other hand, commercial meat goat producers allow their does to take care of their babies for a certain period. However, read more about goat gestation and kidding and weaning.
Female goats gain sexual maturity within their 8 to 10 months of age, although some goats gain maturity earlier. And most of the goats can produce their first kids at their 13 to 15 months of age. The time from mating to kidding of a goat is usually called gestation period. In case of goats, gestation period lasts for about 150 days. Although it much depends on the goat’s type, nutrition levels, the time when they were born and some other factors. There are some goat breeds available which can produce babies twice a year.
Usually most of the goats give birth of one or two kids and some also produce three kids occasionally. Does mate with bucks after going into estrus and become pregnant and give birth of kids after about 150 days. These time period of 150 days from mating to kidding is gestation period of a goat.
Pregnant goats start showing some signs before kidding. Your pregnant doe will give birth of kids within a week or so, when you will notice her udder start filling with milk or bagging up. Probably your doe will search for a safe, secure and calm place to deliver for a few days before kidding. Sometimes she may avoid her fellow goats. She will start exuding a light discharge from her vulva and it will begin swelling. You will notice the appearance of mucus out her vulva area. The sides of her tail will be soften and her flanks will sink inside, as the kids are preparing to enter the world. Your doe may be restless and remain busy getting up and down frequently. She will change her sitting or sleeping positions frequently to have some physical relaxation. Birth is imminent if the discharge become long and thick. The doe will start heavily contracting. And you will see a sac of brownish liquid coming out of her vulva. The first sac will either break or just expand and the second sac (which is coming out from her vulva) contain the baby. You will see continue heavy contractions until she expels the baby. If the doe has more than one baby, then the second one should arrive within a short time. Usually the placenta emerges within 30 minutes. But if it does not appear within two hours, then contact your nearest vet as soon as possible. After kidding apply proper medicines according to your vet’s suggestion so that they can’t develop an infection or be retaining a fetus.
Does start nursing their kids soon after birth. You can start giving your kids hay, leaves or grasses when they are about a week to 10 days old. Goats are ruminants. There are four sections in their stomach. The front part of their stomach act like a fermentation vat. The rumen and other sections of their stomach are not mature during their first week to 10 days of age. As a result they have to depend on their mom’s milk. You can help their stomach to develop good bacteria (this type of bacteria is very helpful for digestion and help the stomach to grow larger) by feeding them small amounts of forage. Leave the kids with their mother for natural weaning and it takes about 3 months to wean. It’s a good practice to wean the kids when they weight 2.5 times more than their birth weight. In case of raising dairy goats, be very careful about feeding the kids after weaning.
Dairy goat producers usually keep the kids separated from their mothers. So if you are raising dairy goats too, then don’t allow the does nursing their babies, because the does are producing milk for your operation. Separate the kids after their birth and keep them in an area that is deeply bedded with straw. Then milk their moms for colostrum. Colostrum is the rich first milk full of antibodies that the does automatically produce for protecting their babies. It’s a must for the newly born babies. If somehow you can’t provide the kids colostrum, then you can mix up commercial colostrum powder (available in your nearest livestock feed stores) and feed the babies. Use feeding tube or bottle for feeding the kids. After a few days change the colostrum with any other commercial replacer.