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How to tell if your goat is in heat

Goats on the hill

How can you tell if your goat is in heat? If you've got a buck around, she'll suddenly be interested in him. But even without a buck, heat signs are pretty obvious once you know your individual animals.

Misty goat

Goat in heatWhen Abigail's in heat, she stands outside even when it's damp (despite hating water). And she yells even though she's usually nearly silent, emitting long, bleating moans that sound like she's dying. I can only assume she thinks she'll manage to call a buck into her pasture if she yells loud enough.

Vaginal discharge that's usually milky whitish is another good sign. Even if you don't catch the mucous hanging out on her vulva, you can usually notice the discharge dried on the underside of her tail, a clear sign that she's in the depth of heat. You may also notice that her vulva is a bit reddish and/or puffy at the same time.

Another thing to keep an eye on in the nether region is flagging. Some goats like to wag their tails much like a dog, but once you see flagging you'll be able to easily distinguish it from wagging. First of all, your doe will flag when nothing happy is happening. Second, the latter behavior is more of a rapid back and forth motion with the tail held relatively low. I don't know this for sure, but I've been assuming the flagging is meant to spread the doe's in-heat scent to the nearest buck, thus all the fast fanning motions.

Goat breakfast

A less obvious sign (but pretty striking in Abigail) is lack of an appetite. In the photo above, you can see her less dominant herd mate sneaking Abigail's breakfast. Usually, poor Artemesia would have been butted off the milking stand by now. But when Abigail's in heat, she's far more interested in yelling than eating.

Creek crossing

If you're looking to breed your goat, you'll want to mark each heat on your calendar so you know when to expect the next one. Goat heats are usually about three weeks apart, and once your goat goes into heat you have anywhere from 6 hours to 3 days to get her bred.

Or, if you're giving your goat a year off like we are with Abigail, taking her on a nice long walk while she's in heat seems to help her feel a little better about the no-buck situation. At least she thinks she's looking for a buck, despite not managing to find one.

Goat conversation

Since Artemesia has now gone four weeks since her last heat, we're relatively sure her driveway date stuck and she's pregnant. So mark your calendar for late April --- hopefully she'll pop out at least one girl!



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