When will my doe kid?

The most important item that tells you when a doe can be expected to kid is an accurate record of her breeding date. Without this, you are using pure guesswork, and could lose kids if a doe needs help during the birth process and you weren't there when needed. Most does are bred during September to December, although it is possible to breed does at other times of the year, especially with light-controlled housing. After the doe is bred, record the date, then watch her at the time she would be expected to return to heat. This is approximately 21 days later, but individual does may have longer or shorter cycles, so watch her closely for the next month or two after breeding. If you miss doing this, you might waste time and feed on a non-pregnant doe. A doe bred late in the natural breeding season might not cycle again, so it could be difficult to determine whether she is truly pregnant.

Pregnancy testing can be done several ways. One is by your veterinarian with ultrasound, which is a way to picture the insides of a doe without using x-rays, which could damage the unborn kid. Another method is by milk or blood progesterone testing. Progesterone is one of the hormones of reproduction. Starting about a month after your doe is bred, you can take a milk sample (assuming she is still milking from her previous kidding) or a blood sample to tell if she is pregnant. Laboratories such as Dairy One in Ithaca, NY can give you exact instructions on how to do the test and what the cost of the test is. Assuming your doe is safely pregnant, when can the kids be expected to arrive? A doe's pregnancy (gestation) lasts about 150 days. We call this the gestation period. To save you calculating the expected kidding date the hard way, there are gestation tables available. One of these is shown below.

Gestation Table for Does

To use the Gestation Table: say your doe is bred on September 10. She will be due to kid (or "freshen") in February. To decide which day, you take the day of breeding (the 10th in this example) and subtract the number in the table (-3 for February). So her due date is February (10-3) = 7.

Gestation Table for Does
Doe Bred In:Will kid in:Number to take away from calendar breeding day:Take this number away instead in leap years:
JanuaryJuneSubtract 1Subtract 2
FebruaryJuly0Subtract 1
MarchAugustSubtract 30
AprilSeptemberSubtract 30
MayOctoberSubtract 30
JuneNovemberSubtract 30
JulyDecemberSubtract 30
AugustJanuarySubtract 30
SeptemberFebruarySubtract 10
OctoberMarchSubtract 1Subtract 2
NovemberAprilSubtract 1Subtract 2
DecemberMaySubtract 1Subtract 2


Calculate the due dates for does bred on:.

  1. May 18
  2. Sept 2
  3. Nov 20
  4. Dec 30

    Of course, most does will not kid precisely when you expect them to.

    You should be alert for signs of kidding before the doe's due date. Make sure that does close to kidding are housed in a way that makes regular close observation easy. Some people even use nanny cameras or baby monitors in their barn to help check if their doe is kidding. You ought to have improved the doe's nutrition steadily throughout gestation. The kids do most of their growing in the last 6 weeks of pregnancy so it is especially important to increase the amount of feed offered at this time. Keep her shed clean and freshly-bedded when she is due to kid. Don't isolate her totally from the rest of the herd, as this will distress her if she is not used to being alone.

    Watch for changes in the doe's behavior. Close to kidding, she will become restless and distracted. She may bleat frequently, and paw at the bedding. Her tailhead ligaments will sag and her udder may get shinny. The udder may fill with milk some days before. This is a highly variable sign of kidding, though. Some udders fill with milk a week before kidding, some not until the day of kidding. Don't milk the doe even a little unless she is in obvious pain from a swollen udder. You will lower the quality of the first milk (colostrum) which is essential for raising a healthy kid. The udder will drip on its own if it gets too full.

    The doe is in the kidding process once mucus and membranes begin to show at the vulva (opening of the reproductive tract) or once she starts pushing. A kid should be born shortly after the water sac (sac containing the kid and the ambiotic fluid) breaks and the doe starts pushing in earnest.

    Suggested Activities

    • ​​​​​Record breeding dates for your own does and calculate due dates.
    • Draw a plan of your barn, showing where does are housed and what you need to do to prepare pens for kidding.
    • View slides or a film showing a doe kidding.*
    • Watch a friend's goat kid being sure to stay quiet and out of the way.*
    • Take slides of a goat kidding and prepare your own presentation.

    * Activity is usually suitable for Cloverbuds with parental consent or company

    Written by Dr. E.A.B. Oltenacu, revised by Dr. tatiana Stanton