As part of your sustainable lifestyle, you will want to be able to handle the routine birth of goats without calling in a vet. As the time nears for your goat to kid, you may get just as nervous as she does. She most likely can kid on her own, but you want to make sure that she has a clean, safe place to do so. Here are some tips on how to tell when your goat is getting close to kidding.

Reading the ligaments

A goat's rump is normally flat and solid, but as a doe gets to the end of pregnancy, that changes. Her tailbone becomes elevated, and the ligaments that connect it to her pelvis begin to stretch and loosen in preparation for the journey the kid (or kids) will make from her body. Sometimes you can tell that she will kid soon when you see a hollow on either side of the tail.

One of the best ways to identify an impending kidding is to feel the two tail ligaments located on each side of the tail. Feel a doe that isn't pregnant and you will notice that those ligaments are very firm. The same will be true of a doe that is pregnant but not ready to kid.

When these ligaments begin to get soft, and then completely vanish, you know that the goat is due to kid within 24 hours. You may make a mistake the first few times you try to read the ligaments, but over time you find the technique to be almost foolproof.

Check the ligaments on a goat to tell whether she is going to kid.
Check the ligaments on a goat to tell whether she is going to kid.

A few weeks before the doe is ready to kid, start feeling her ligaments routinely. One day you will find that they've turned to mush, and then you will know that it's time to put her in the kidding pen.

Identifying other signs of impending kidding

Besides softened ligaments, a doe will show other signs of kidding. Each doe might exhibit different signs, so keep an eye out for a change in behavior. Some other signs to look for include

  • Isolation: The doe stands off from the crowd, sometimes seeming "spaced out."

  • Mucus discharge: You may observe some whitish or yellowish discharge on her vulva.

  • Firm, shiny udder: Her udder may become tight and filled up, called bagging up.

  • Loss of appetite: She may become uninterested in food.

  • Personality change: She may start fighting with other goats or become overly friendly to you when she was previously standoffish.

  • Restlessness: She may lie down, then get up, paw at the ground, and just seem uncomfortable.

When you have checked her ligaments and they're soft, or when you notice her exhibiting any or a combination of these signs around her due date, put her in the kidding pen, give her some fresh hay or alfalfa and observe her in this environment.

When you have determined to your satisfaction that this is the day, turn on the baby monitor and leave her to focus on the mysterious process of having a kid.