How to tell when your pregnant doe probably needs to lay off packing depends on the doe in question. After a few breeding seasons I’ve compiled a list of signs a doe probably needs to go on partial or complete maternity leave. That being said, I have hiked with does up to within 10 days of parturition without any real issues.
IF YOUR DOE is gaining a lot of weight all of a sudden and you KNOW her breeding date then –
- If the doe appears to have triplets, (that is, gets really fat really fast), You might want to lay off asking her to carry significant weight about two months before she is due.
- If the doe appears to have twins (that is, doesn’t really get fat till the end of pregnancy), I don’t typically stop asking her to work until two weeks to a month before she is due, so long as she appears to be in good health and getting enough food to meet her demands for both packing and growing kids. Sometimes she’ll still get too fat to get the pack on though, so she gets maternity leave early!
- If the doe has a singlet she may never look very pregnant at all. I usually pack does that don’t gain a lot of weight up until 2 weeks before they are due to kid.
IF YOUR DOE is gaining a lot of weight all of a sudden and you DO NOT KNOW her breeding date then –
- If you don’t know exactly when the doe was bred, (and thus exactly when she will be giving birth as does tend to go almost exactly at 5 months gestation give or take a day or so), you may want to err on the side of caution.
- Does that are hiked very close to their due dates may begin to experience pelvic ligaments loosening in preparation for giving birth. What this means in practical terms is that when you ask a goat to jump in the truck after a day hiking the doe may not be able to make the jump. Been there, done that, took a long time figuring out how to lift a pregnant doe into the goat box! You can check for loose ligaments by placing your hand on the goat’s tail head and wiggling the goat’s whole butt about. If the ligaments are loose there will a suspiciously large amount of play in her hind end. Compare that amount of play to a wether or unbred doe.
Exercise in ruminants, (most studies are in cows), may aid in a successful complication free kidding. Therefore, there is value for the goat in hiking or packing a doe up to as close to kidding as possible without stressing the doe and with adequate nutrition. I always hike Dogo when she is bred due to the nerve damage in her rear legs, and this seems to keep her fit enough to kid out without problems.