February 24, 2011

The Girls & The Million Dollar Question

Which is, are they pregnant???   I've been researching this subject, but evidently pregnancy detection in goats isn't all that easy.

Baby belly? Might be healthy rumen.
Enlarging udder? Some goats don't bag up until right at or even after delivery.

Hormone testing and ultrasounds aren't feasible for me, so that leaves the observation of whether or not the girls' heat cycles resumed 18 to 21 days after the attempted mating. I confess that even of that I'm not entirely certain. While Surprise was a blatant hussy and outrageous flirt, Baby and Jasmine were more subtle. Were they really in heat, or just being tolerant of Petey's amorous advances? Was all that tail wagging in his face really an invitation, or were they were just shooing him away? Then I start second guessing and wonder, was Jasmine in heat again three weeks later, or just shifting into her uber-drama queen gear? And Baby seemed disinterested the entire time.

What I do have, are dates marked on the calendar. I jotted down each goat's name when I thought she was being receptive to Petey and circled the date. Then I used the 150 day goat gestation calculator at LinderCroft's Goats, and circled those dates as well. All I can do now is feed them well, and prepare for the hoped for blessed events. And watch and wait. As far as the watching part goes, here's what I'm seeing:

CryBaby Belly

CryBaby is the youngest and smallest of the three. I have to say, I'll be mighty surprised if that's not a baby belly. Maybe even a twins belly. What do you think?

Surprise Belly

The color contrast between Surprise and the straw on the floor isn't especially pronounced, but she definitely has a lumpy bulge about her middle.

Jasmine Belly

Jasmine, I'm the least certain about. Of course, she's the biggest girl, so if she's carrying a single, it may not be as obvious. Still, I've been reading that during the first several months, the kid usually grows on one side or the other, giving the mother a lopsided look. I'm not sure if this photo shows it well, but Jasmine definitely looks bigger on her right side. My uncertainty stems from the fact the 6 weeks we had Petey, was during the time when she was suffering from an infected udder and may not been up to his advances, even if she was in heat.

As I wait, I wonder about something the books don't seem to be address. That is, do pregnancy hormones change a goat's personality, like with humans? Those of you who breed and raise kids can probably answer that question! I'm wondering because all three of my girls have changed somewhat.

Surprise, has always been something of a complainer and tattle tail with a "Poor Me" attitude. Now she plays, jumps, and bounces around like she's got springs on her feet. She obviously feels good and is happy. I've even seen her challenge Jasmine (unsuccessfully) for the queen goat position. She's the first to come running when she sees me (though that's nothing new.)


Jasmine, who always used to be  loud, talkative, and opinionated, hardly ever says a word anymore. These days she behaves more like a big dog, always running over to be petted and have her head scratched. She's still top goat, but she follows me around so that it's hard to get anything else done because she's always in the way. And just like the photo on the right, she usually looks like she's smiling.

I used to think that CryBaby (AKA Baby), hollered just to hear her own voice. Ever vociferous, she has become a good deal quieter these days, and quite introspective. I frequently see her just standing around, staring off in to space.  The good news is that the three goats seem to be getting along better these days, so that Jasmine and Surprise aren't giving Baby the business anymore. Even so, she is still at the bottom of the pecking order.

My first potential due date is early April for Surprise. In the meantime I continue to read up on the subject, prepare in whatever way I can, and pray that all goes well.

The Girls & The Million Dollar Question © February 2011 by Leigh at http://my5acredream.blogspot.com/


Michelle said...

My ewes are due in two weeks and don't bulge as much as your does! I'm pretty sure two are bred, but they sure don't look due in two weeks....

Donna said...

Too bad you don't have some before pictures! Good luck

Renee Nefe said...

Surprise's belly looks angular to me. But I don't know nuttin about birthin no babies (at least goat ones). ;o)
Best of luck to you and the girls.

Leigh said...

Michelle, I know less about how to tell if a sheep is pregnant than a goat, LOL. I'm looking forward to your baby pics.

Donna, I never thought about that. They didn't look quite like that though. :)

Renee, I was thinking "lumpy", LOL. This one is a new one on me too. I'm learning!

Marie said...

Oh they are all so pretty!!! That first one does look like she is expecting. It's been so long since I've had a goat. I'll never forget when our pygmy had her babies, we named them Samson and Delilah, the pertiest things ever, they were. Sure do miss em!! Gonna have to get goats again!

Tami said...

Love your "personality" descriptions of the goats. (LOL.. with the "hussy comment)

I could almost see you writing a Harlequin Romance..."Petey and His Harem of Flirty Girls."

I'd read it for sure. (grin)

Carolyn said...

I hear ya. The two goats that I'm almost positive ARE pregnant aren't showing at all, and the one I wasn't sure about looks like she's got three basketballs in her belly. Somebody really needs to come up with a cheap "pee stick" pregnancy test for goats. They'd make a bucket of money!

The Mom said...

I hope there are lots of goat baby pictures coming soon. I have to live vicariously through you.

Leigh said...

Marie, goats are fun, aren't they? I have a feeling, (even if it's just hope, LOL) that they're all pregnant. Time will tell!

Tami, oh my. Maybe I ought to do another magazine article, like I did for Lord B!

Carolyn Renee, actually, that's an excellent idea. Hmmm. Now you've got me thinking. Pregnancy hormones are pregnancy hormones, right? I wonder if a human drug store type pregnancy kit would work on a goat! Must experiment.

Heather, me too! :)

Jane @ Hard Work Homestead said...

I think that maybe you can attribute the new attitudes to the departure of Petey. The girls didn't know how good they had it until a stinky boy came around. They are breathing easy now ;)

Woolly Bits said...

funny that there is no simpler (and cheaper!) test for this! I wouldn't mind the surprise of coming into the shed one morning to find some pretty goat babies standing there:)) can they do the job well themselves or do most of them need human help? (with giving birth I mean)

Mama Pea said...

My guess would be that CryBaby and Surprise are definitely with child (with kid?). Jasmine? Maybe, maybe not. Being top goat she no doubt gets her share of the food so is well-fed. I wonder how much her fertility (or desire to be bred) would have been affected by her infection when Petey was around. I would have thought that would come into play.

I never noticed a change in personality when any of our goats were expecting. You're right on in being able to describe each distinct personality. I think goats have a LOT of personality! Maybe the changes you note are simply from them settling into their established pecking order, maturing and feeling secure in the wonderful, loving home with you.

Nina said...

Yay for kids! Looks like you've got two mamas there for sure. You might have a few disrupted nights, checking for babies though. Good thing you've got some idea as to when they might come. Do you have any thoughts to a maternity pen to allow mama and babe to bond, and recover without prying noses of the other girls?

DebbieB said...

They all look bulgy to me, though Jasmine the least so. Sounds like the goat girls have settled down nicely, though, even if they aren't expecting. We'll pray that they are, and for easy deliveries and healthy kids!


Can't help you other than they look plumped up. I think you may have babies soon and that would be great to see.

Leigh said...

Oh Jane, ROFL, I laugh but that may very well be true!

Bettina, I agree, there ought to be a better way. Goats can do the job nicely by themselves, though that doesn't mean there can't be problems, such as an incorrect presentation. I think the best policy is humans on standby, though many a kid has been born without.

Mama Pea, you may very well be right. I have less confidence about Jasmine, for the reasons mentioned. If she doesn't produce anything on the dates I have circled, maybe I'll try for an early breeding this summer.

Thank you for mentioning the personality changes, or lack of. They may very well be settling in to their own. I know it takes awhile.

Nina, yes, we have figured out a maternity pen. We already have two stalls with a single door. So all that's needed is another gate to give mother and kid privacy. If I get there in time, it will be a birthing pen as well!

Debbie oh yes, pray for easy deliveries!

Bety, it will be a lot of fun, plus it will mean milk!

Seeking Serenity said...

I love reading about the goats I really liked the pictures of them playing :)
The eggs are so pretty and Riley is a kick! Love your blog!

What Pigs Don't Know said...

I know nothing at all about goats, but I just wanted to say I am really looking forward to seeing these babies! Good luck! -Carrie

Michelle said...

I have been wondering myself if there is a way to tell early. I've only had goats for 11 days. They are Nigerian dwarf & exposed to a buck before they came. Duting theier daily mik stand training I've been feeling their udders & teats hoping that if they start tpo change I'll ntice a difference. Your post gave me the idea to take pics now & measure their bellies so I'll have a baseline to compare to.

Leigh said...

Peaceful, I think taking photos is the best part of having a blog!

Carrie, me too!

Michelle, it certainly seems there should be a simple way to tell. Do you have some possible due dates for your does?

Anonymous said...

I loved reading about your girls' personalities! I would probably think that sure, if our hormones affect our mood or behaviour, why not theirs right?

katrien said...

it's a mystery, dear Watson! The Mystery of the Pregnant Goats!

Jen said...

I've been wondering the same thing about my goats (they are huge) and then I noticed something different about them today. I posted the pics here;


Leigh said...

Rain, that's what I'm wondering too. But who knows!

Katrien, the mystery of the century. Or at least my century! :)

Limette, I'm on my way over. Hopefully these experiences will help us figure it out in the future.

luckybunny said...

I know about this! I laughed at this post and the bely pics :) I know for sure three of my does are preggers but the other two I'm not sure about... it's a watch and see. My ewes hardly ever show me sign but they always drop a lamb the same time every year.

Goats are so different than sheep. My one doe started telling me she was getting ready to kid a week before last year, lots of late nights. Your girls do look bulgy but it's hard to say, one year I was positive one doe was not bred because she didn't look it one bit and sure enough she had a single! I hope your girls are all bred and you'll have healthy kids to share with us!

Bonnie K said...

Your post reminded me of checking cattle for calves when I was little. A cow, Filly, that I had bottle fed as a calf came over the hill and my mom commented is she ever going to calve? She was notorious for having a big belly and she was huge. We went over the hill and here she had just had twins. You just never can tell.