Pregnancy Diagnosis in Goats


How do we determine if goats are pregnant?

  • Watch for return to estrus (heat)
  • Wait 4.5 to 5 months and watch for udder development and kidding
  • Ballot (bounce/palpate) abdomen at 4.5 months and attempt to feel kids
  • Draw blood to test for hormones that are normally elevated during pregnancy
  • Ultrasound any time after 32d post breeding


Why do we want to know if goats are pregnant? (why not just wait for kids?)

  • Allows for an accurate dry off period in dairy does
  • Late pregnant does can be fed differently than non-pregnant does
  • Allows us to accurately time pre-kidding vaccines and treatments
  • Make management decisions about keeping, depending on ability to become pregnant
  • Whether or not to rebreed!


How can ultrasounding my doe help me with my 4H project?

  • Ultrasounding between 32 and 50 days post breeding can identify whether a doe is having a single or multiple kids
  • Ultrasounding for pregnancy at 32 days post breeding helps make sure open does get rebred, and decreases unwanted extended lactations or keeping open meat does
  • Often if there are multiple breeding dates from herd breeding, ultrasound can identify the most likely date of pregnancy
  • Confirming pregnancy allows for timely CD/T boosters, pre-kidding fecals or deworming, and feeding your doe for peak milk production post kidding
  • Knowing pregnancy status will help CAE prevention programs


How do you ultrasound my doe for pregnancy?

  • An ultrasound machine sends sound waves away from the probe (transducer), and records how many bounce back and how long it takes.  It then creates a picture with white being bounced back the most and the fastest and black the longest
  • Fluid or air doesn’t bounce back sound waves = black
  • Bone or metal sends waves back quickly = white
  • For diagnosing pregnancy, the probe is placed against the abdomen, above the udder in the hairless area between the leg and body.  It then sends waves out, and creates an image of what it is pressed against.  If the doe is pregnant, images of the uterus, fluid in the uterus, and the skeleton of the kid(s) are seen.  If she is open, the uterus may not be in front of the probe, and intestines and bladder are seen instead.
  • For early pregnancy, days 30-40, sometimes the probe needs to be placed in the rectum to see the small, pregnant uterus in the pelvis.
  • Goat placenta:
    • Cotelydons: lumps of tissue on the placenta (kid side) that connect to the doe’s uterus
    • Caruncles: lumps of tissue on the doe’s uterus that connect to the placenta
    • Connected they transfer nutrients from the doe’s blood to the kid’s and transfer waste from the kid’s blood to the doe
    • Mom drives a CARuncle; Kid sleeps in a COTelydon


Why can’t I just blood test?  (sounds easier)

  • Blood testing for pregnancy tests for either progesterone or pregnancy specific protein B.
    • Progesterone testing is highly variable because pregnancy may not be the only reason for an elevated level
    • Pregnancy specific protein B testing (BioPryn) is more accurate at identifying open animals (99%), but 5% or more of the does the test say are pregnant may be open. 
  • Blood testing can not identify the number of kids
  • Having your veterinarian ultrasound your doe develops a veterinarian client patient relationship, which gives you a chance to ask them questions about your animals health, environment, or nutrition, as well as allowing them to legally prescribe drugs for your goats
  • You CAN blood test for pregnancy
    • Or, you can have your veterinarian pull blood to test for pregnancy
    • However, it is not as accurate as ultrasound, and cannot tell you singles vs multiples