13 Goat Kidding Signs

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 This post will help you to know the goat kidding signs, so you are better prepared for when your goat goes into labor. An important part to know when learning how to raise dairy goats so you can grow your herd full of healthy goats. 

13 goat kidding signs

I once asked a goat farmer; how do you know if your goat is pregnant. He replied, “If kids hit the ground in 5 months…then you know your goat is pregnant.”

Not much help, I know. I sure didn’t think so either.


Those first few seasons, I pretty much stumbled along with my herd. I was guessing on due dates and hoping for the best.


To be honest, when it comes to kidding, that isn’t a bad way to go about things. Goats have been having babies for thousands of years, and if they were able to get along just fine, not knowing when the kids were coming, then we can too.

newly born Nubian goat kids standing in a barn stall copy

The problem is most of us goat farmers also have lives.

We have families and kids. Soccer practice and girl scout meetings. Things we need to plan for and places we need to be.

And let’s face it, we also want to sleep. You know the old saying, a watched pot doesn’t boil? That is true with goats as well. A watched goat, for some reason, will refuse to kid for just about as long as she is able.

My first year, I went out to check on my goats every hour for a few days straight. By the time they actually began kidding I was beyond exhausted and of very little help. 

a doe goat with her young newborn twin kids in a stall (1)

So, having a basic idea of when your goats are going to have their babies will be a bit more than helpful for you and your schedule. 

USE OUR GOAT BREEDING CALCULATOR: If you want to know just when your goat will be due to kid, you can enter the breeding date here and get your target due date!!


After 8+ years of goat kidding seasons, I have found quite a few signs that will help you better pinpoint when your goats are getting ready to kid. This list is pretty much my own experiences with my own herd.

It is not even close to scientific or even a strict rule of thumb. But it is my go-to list for what to look for as kidding season approaches so I can, at the very least, have my kidding kit and birthing pens all set up and ready to go.

If you are not sure what a goat birth kit or a kidding pen are, you may want to bookmark those articles to read next. These are two vital parts of kidding that I encourage you to have set up.

two goat kids kissing through a wooden fence

They will not only help you to relax, knowing you are ready for just about anything that might come up, but they will help your goats relax as well. And a relaxed goat is crucial to a healthy delivery. 



If you want to know just when your goat will be due to kid, you can enter the breeding date here and get your target due date.  [widget id=”custom_html-22″]

SLCG Pro Tip: I cannot stress enough the importance of having goats that are people-friendly. This means they are not only comfortable having you near but also having you touch them. Goat fur can mask many clues that a goat is declining in health. Touch your goats, pet them, and feel them. Get acquainted with their body condition so you will be aware when things change not only for kidding clues but for health issues as well.

How long is a goat in labor?

From start to finish, goats can labor for a few hours up to 12 or sometimes longer. Once the sack is visible, kids will usually be born within the hour.

Goat kidding signs – the beginning

Disclaimer: In accordance with FDA guidelines, the information and products offered on this website are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. I am not a medical professional. Before administering any hands-on care, treatment, or medications to your animals please contact a veterinarian first.

Sign #1  Tail Ligaments Become Loose

Tail ligaments are pencil-like rods that run down the rump area of the goat right before the tail. If you are standing behind your goat the ligaments will form an upside-down V.

To find the goat’s tail ligaments, you will want to run your hand down over her spine. As you get close to the tail gently squeeze until you feel the chord-like ligaments.

tail ligaments on a goat. Goat kidding signs

You should be able to feel the ligaments at the base of the tail about midway through gestation. As a goat’s due date approaches, these ligaments will soften allowing you to pinch your fingers closer together.

A goat’s ligaments will continue to soften until they disappear altogether, allowing you to pinch only what feels like the skin between your thumb and finger.  

I suggest getting into the habit of checking each pregnant doe’s ligaments daily. You can do this as you are feeding. While your doe is eating, run your hand down your goat’s back, gently squeezing as you go. Make a mental note of how thin the ligaments are.

a hand pinching the back end of a female goat

This daily habit will also serve to “train” your goat to be more comfortable with you touching her. Even friendly goats may not like to be handled when in labor and by teaching them now that you are safe, they will be more likely to allow you to intervene if necessary. 

Sign#2  Your Goat Begins to Form an Udder

As kidding approaches, a goat will begin to produce milk in her udder. This is called “bagging up”. A full udder will be more obvious in older goats that have kidded before.

Not only that, but goats with thicker or dark fir, like our goat Gracy in the picture below, can really hide a full udder. That is why it is so important to touch your goats. Get into the habit of feeling their udders so you are more aware as it starts to fill.


SLCG Pro Tip: I like to shave the udders of our does a few weeks prior to their kidding date. This not only helps me to better see when they begin to bag up, but it also allows me to milk her, later on, more easily. Less hair on the udder means less hair in the milk bucket.

The time range for udders filling can be anywhere from a few weeks before kidding up until a few hours. Not much help, I know, but a sign to watch for nonetheless. 

This is where individual goat experience comes in handy. The first year your new goats have their kids will set the stage for each year following. Keep a good log on each of your goats, so you know how long before kidding her udder fills with milk.

This log will come in quite handy as a comparison in the following years not only for each goat in particular but your herd in full. 

Sign #3  Swollen Vulva

The vulva is the entrance to the goat’s vagina. It is found under the tail and below the anus. Usually, the vulva is small and tight, hardly noticeable at all.

When labor is approaching the vulva will begin to loosen and look swollen.

the back end of a goat. Goat kidding signs

This is how their body prepares for labor and the size of the babies to come. The puffier the vulva gets, the closer your goats are to kidding.

Again, not all goats will have this sign, but many of them will. Know your goats from day one, so it is easier for you to see any changes that may alert you that kidding is coming soon. 

Sign #4   Babies Drop

As your doe approaches her due date her babies will drop. You can see this by a slight indentation of their upper belly close to their spine. Just like we do before we have our own children, the doe’s kids will drop into position prior to labor.

a nubian pregnant doe in a birthing stall looking at the camera

It is important as time goes on you continually watch your herd consistently for any changes to their bodies. I suggest taking pictures beginning at the time of breeding up until kidding with your phone. This was a lifesaver for me when I first began breeding my goats.

When your does grow slowly, those subtle changes can be hard to catch. By documenting everyone’s progress with photographs you will know for sure when bellies grow, babies drop, and udders fill.  

Goat Kidding Signs – The Next Stage

The next few signs are clues that labor is close and you need to be on high alert. I find it helpful to have a goat birthing kit set up and ready to go so if any of our goats deliver early I have all my tools close by.

Sign #5   Talking, Biting, or Nibbling at Her Belly

It amazes me how the maternal instinct will kick in even for first-time fresheners (AKA first-time goat mamas). During the last few weeks, your goat may begin nibbling at her belly or singing in a low hum. This is mama’s way of talking to her kids.

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Instinct tells her something is going to happen even if she is not aware of what. Nibbling at her side or humming to her belly is a good sign things are getting close. It is also a good sign that your goat will be a very attentive mother to her kids. 

Sign #6   Tail Ligaments are Completely Gone

As I said before, it is a good idea to check your doe’s tail ligaments every day. This is just another way for you to be aware of any changes.

When your finger and thumb can just about touch that means those ligaments are gone and babies are very close

hand feeling the tail ligaments on a goat.

Sign #7   Udders Get Hard

Another sign kids are close is a hard and sometimes shiny udder. This is another crucial area you will want to get into the habit of checking daily.

How do you check a goat’s udder?

You feel it with your hands. Before an udder fills you will feel nothing other than your goat’s belly. After it begins to fill you will feel a bag beginning to form. As it continues to fill it will get large and hard and shiny.

Another reason to shave your goat’s udder is so you can see when changes happen more easily.

This will do two things.

  • Let you know of any changes in firmness.
  • Prepare your goat for milking, which can be quite helpful if your goat is a first freshener and skittish about having her udder touched.
a full goat udder on a black dairy goat


Sign #8   Vulva’s Get Swollen, Red, and Very Puffy

Early in this article, we talked about a swollen back end, as a goat is getting closer to kidding her swollen back end will turn puffy and sometimes even red.

This, again is your doe preparing for the birth and her body doing all that it can to be ready for those kids and delivery.

At this point, things will be so puffy that her vulva will stick out and will be fully noticeable from the side.

the close up view of a goats vulva

Goat Kidding Signs – The Final Stage

These final signs usually happen just hours or even minutes before kidding. If you see any of these signs, get your goat into a birthing pen if you have one, if not you can see how to set up a birthing pen here.

If you do not have a birthing pen or room to set up one, try to at least find a corner that is away from the rest of the herd to help your doe have a space where she feels safe and secure.

Sign #9   Discharge

Not everyone sees this sign because you need to be there when it happens. However, a wet tail can also let you know as well.

What does discharge look like?

This can be a small drip to a long thin white string of creamy discharge reaching all the way to the ground. Another sign is a wet or damp tail or even a puddle in your goat’s pen.

Sign #10   Pawing at the ground

If your doe is pawing or scuffing the ground, she is just preparing a bed for her and her babies.

Again this is her maternal instinct telling her kids are about to come.

goat making a kidding bed with her hoof prior to kidding

If you have not moved your doe to a private area, now is the time to do so.

There is nothing worse than moving after labor begins. I had to do this once and it was not only upsetting to my goat it was upsetting to me. This does not mean you can’t move them; I have just found it is far less stressful to move early rather than late.

This is true for both you and your goat. 

I want to be clear that you do not need to worry that the other goats in your herd will intentionally hurt the new kids. It’s intentional harm that I am speaking of.

What they will do is come in for a closer look, sometimes all of them at once. Goats are incredibly curious, and they will want to see what is happening and smell what is new.

They do not mean any harm but your goat that is kidding may not realize this and panic causing her to move around and possibly hurting newborn kids or herself. 

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At the very least, you will want to have a goat kidding pen cleaned and ready to go. This is simply a private stall or area that has fresh bedding, hay, and water—all the things your goat will need both during and after the delivery of her kids. 

a goat birthing pen that is cleaned and full of wood shavings

Sign #11   Stargazing 

You know, when I heard about this sign, I never really understood what it meant. After having goats, I totally get it.

My expectant does will just stare off into space, chewing their cud and humming a bit. Yes, they actually hum. I relate it to a sort of meditation—another way they are preparing for kidding and all that is about to happen.

Not all of my does do this, but surprisingly most of them do.

Sign #12   Heads Against the Wall

If your doe has her head against the wall, you know you are minutes away from kids. This is their way of bracing themselves during a contraction.

goat having a contraction while kidding

I have only had a few does do this, so I do not consider this sign a common one; however, I want you to be aware of it.

Heads on the wall mean babies. Right now.

Bonus sign:  Another sign that you might notice is your doe peeing quite frequently but not actually doing anything. This is a huge sign that pushing is about to commence!! 

What do goat contractions look like?

There are a few clues that will tell you your goat is having a contraction. Here are the most common.

  1. Head against the wall – Usually, a goat does this to help with the pressure and pain.
  2. Star gazing – Before things get intense, a goat may stare off into space until a contraction is over.
  3. Grunting – A goat may grunt, moan, or even yell when they are having a contraction.
  4. Fidgeting – Goats tend to move around a lot as contractions start. Standing up, lying down, standing up again.
  5. Teeth grinding – If contractions are painful a goat may grind her teeth.
  6. Licking or biting – A goat may try to lick or bite their back end during contractions.

Sign #13   Pushing

The most obvious sign is when your doe is pushing. Something that can be seen as well as heard. 

This will begin as a low grunt sound that she may make while standing or lying down. As her labor progresses, the grunt will get longer and louder.

More often than not, labor will happen with your doe lying down, but this is not always the case.

There will always be a doe or two that prefers to kid standing up, so listen for the intensity of the push to know just how close things are.

goat lying down and in labor. Goat kidding signs

Do not panic if your goat is a screamer; there are always a few in the herd. Just know this is not so much in pain as it is them pushing with all they’ve got. 

SLCG Pro Tip: Our barn is close enough to our house that we are able to use baby monitors to help us hear if anything is happening. This can be quite useful in the winter and at night. If you live in a good area with good internet, you can also use a video monitor or even a security camera. We, however, do not have good internet, and that means our only option is a baby monitor, but it does work surprisingly well. Pushing is a very distinguishable sound, and when you hear it once, you will always be able to recognize it.

Knowing the signs of kidding isn’t necessary, but it sure is helpful, especially on a small homestead. When room or shelter is scarce, having a clue or two when a goat is about to kid can keep things from getting chaotic.

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My advice to you is to have a game plan in place for when your doe begins to kid, so you are not caught off guard. Remember, your goats, whether a first freshener or a third, will have the instincts to know just what to do and how to do it.

About 95% of all kidding happens without any problems at all. However, there is always a chance that something can go wrong. Here are just a few things to remember before the big day arrives.

two baby goats sleeping in a pen

Goat Kidding Checklist:

  1. Have a goat kidding kit prepped and ready to go.
  2. Alert your vet when things get close and let them know you may be calling for help or advice. Nothing is more important than having a goat you can call when you need help. If there is no large animal vet in your area, you can look out further or find a local goat farmer instead. Sometimes a little encouragement and advice can make all the difference when things get sketchy. 
  3. Prepare a birthing stall or a part of your barn or shed that will keep your doe and her kids safe from the elements and other goats.
  4. Finally, have your camera ready for some adorable goat kid pictures!
just born goat twins in a cleaned stall with mom goat

Do you have a plan that you refer to for goat-kidding signs? Share in the comments below; we would love to hear from you! 

More Goat Kidding Resources:


  1. What if i dont have a birthing pen. I have two pregnant goats in a small pen.

    1. As long as they get along and there is room for them to have a bit of privacy in a corner you should be okay. If your goats have access to pasture they may prefer to have them out there.

  2. Rhonda Ormes says:

    Oh my gosh! I’ve been searching for 2 months to find a layman’s talk website for goat information. I resuecued a pregnant Mama about 2yrs old and her intact son of about 1year old in March. We did a pregnancy check and confirmed she was pregnant but no way of knowing when she was covered (we suspect it to be her son as they were not separate). Finding your website is a God-send! Thank you so much.

    1. Hi, Rhonda!
      I am glad you found me too! Welcome to the crazy awesome world of goats. Keep the checklist and refer back to it to help pinpoint better the time she is due. I would prepare a kidding pen at least a month out, just in case.
      Good luck!
      Tracy Lynn

    2. Leah Parker says:

      I know the does are the ones giving birth, but do the fathers act strange? Our seven month old buck will hang around with the soon to be mother and make very odd sounds and is acting strange, is that normal?

      1. If he is making odd sounds he may be calling out to here for mating. If he is young he might not be sure what to do and who he can do it with!

  3. Leah Parker says:

    I know the female goats the does are the ones giving birth, but do the fathers act strange around the females right before Birthing will commence? Because our seventh month old buck, the father, is acting really strange! He sticks around the soon to be mother and makes really odd sounds. He is also acting strange, he does this weird thing with his lip and keeps sniffing the female.

    1. Hi, Leah!
      yes, that is not normal however I have yet to meet a normal buck! He is still young and that lip pulling back is in reaction to a scent that is intriguing to him. Sniffing is normal for bucks as well and happens quite often as they try to see which ones are un heat. She is probably giving off a similar scent causing him to think she is in heat. I would just watch him to be sure he does not try to mount her.
      Hope this helps!
      Tracy Lynn

  4. My goat is wounded my farm dog bit her on the ear and I was wondering when she would kid and if it’s a good thing because her wound might be infected. It might be okay when I hive the medication. Also, her ligaments are (I’m pretty sure) indicating and hour ’till kidding. She also is not wanting to stay in her birthing pen for long because her son and her sister are out there. We got our male castrated late November, so she should kid soon but we have no idea. This is our second kidding. She also is a single-producer. She had a single birth last time and I don’t know if she will have one two or three.

  5. I have a Boer goat doe that in the last hour has been constantly getting up,eating,then laying back down. I went to go check on her and there was a puddle where she was laying and she’s still laying in that spot but I’m not sure when she’s going to drop her little kiddos. We took her to the vet when she was 3 months in to her pregnancy and he said she may have 2-3 but as she continued her pregnancy she just grew bigger and bigger now I’m on every hour duty going out and checking her. She’s also a first-freshener and she’s always looking at me like she needs help,but I need help because I have no clue when shes going to have them and its driving me nuts!!

    1. Hi, Analisa!
      Yes, waiting is the worst part of kidding sometimes! I was told by a farmer once when I asked him when the kids would come. He told me, you will know it’s time when the kids “hit the ground”. So funny then, but totally true.
      I hope those kids were born and you are now loving up on a tiny herd of babies!
      Let me know,
      Tracy Lynn

      1. No babies yet from her but her penmate who is named Fiesty Ann(because she is really fiesty and her mama’s name was Annie) is constantly talking tonight to her belly and I should have some babies on the ground by tonight I hope.

  6. My goat has been showing all signs besides pushing for a week. Is this normal in some goats?

    1. yes, it is absolutely normal. A friend once told me, you will know when a goat is ready to kid once you see the feet and nose. Hang in there, keep watch and good luck!

      Tracy Lynn

  7. I have an A-frame shelter for my 3 does, 2 whethers, and 1 billy. The rest is just open pasture with a fence around the entire area. I have heard those igloo shaped dog houses are good for kidding. One of my does is expecting any day now, she is pygmy and the smallest of all my does. It is January in Utah and I’m concerned about them being warm enough. How can I be sure doe and kid will be warm enough?

    1. I would add in a few hay bales around the perimeter along with plenty of bedding on the floor. Then once she kids watch things very closely to ensure the baby is dried off quickly and warm enough.
      Good Luck!
      Tracy Lynn

    2. Anonymous says:

      I set up a space in the dining room for them when they’re getting close. Don’t have to worry about the temperature. Summer in southern az is too hot for them so again in the dining room. It’s alot of cleaning all day long but worth it.

  8. so my Nigerian 1 year old doe is in labour I think. she has lost her ligaments, vulva very red and is kind opened if you know what I mean. She like to lay down. I just came in from checking on her and she was eating like the whole time. Her kids have defiantly dropped. The only thing is her udder. She has started to grow an udder. But it is not full and tight. Plus this is her first time having kids. Tell me what you think.

    1. Hello, Finnley!

      Sometimes a goat’s udder will not fill up to right after kids hit the ground so that is why a full udder is not a great reliable sign to watch for.

      I hope all goes well, sounds as if your goat is very close!

      Tracy Lynn

      Disclaimer: In accordance with FDA guidelines, the information and products offered on this website are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. I am not a medical professional. Before administering any hands on care, treatment, or medications to your animals please contact a veterinarian first.

      1. now I just went out to check on her and she has some amber colored mucus at the tip of her vulva. is she really close?
        her mom is the one with the amber stuff. And the goats mom has the same stuff except for her ligaments are not completely gone. and her vulva is not red

  9. I am talking about a two year old goat not a first timer. sorry about that. But still will her udder do the same as she has had kids in the previous years so the whole time I am talking about the 1 year olds mom

    1. just went out to check again and she has like white mucus just starting to come out. Is this norma l? is she close

      1. Yes, white mucus is a sign she is very close. Just keep an eye on her and have a vet you can call that can help out if you need it.

        Good luck!
        Tracy Lynn
        Disclaimer: In accordance with FDA guidelines, the information and products offered on this website are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. I am not a medical professional. Before administering any hands on care, treatment, or medications to your animals please contact a veterinarian first.

    2. Yes, udders are fickle and there is no way to know if they will bag up before, during, or after kidding. And each kidding for the goat is completely different. That is whyI cover so many signs so you know them all and can better gauge when things are going to happen. As you get more experience this entire process will become easier for you as well!
      Remember, to please have a vet that you can call or text if you need any help.
      Tracy Lynn
      Disclaimer: In accordance with FDA guidelines, the information and products offered on this website are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. I am not a medical professional. Before administering any hands on care, treatment, or medications to your animals please contact a veterinarian first.

  10. so now we found out that we have 3 goats prego. we have two first timers. they both have started to swell in the udder, but the one ligaments are I think gone. like what is going on?
    Then we have the really old doe that has kidded before that I have talked about last time but shed still hasn’t kidded. Her bag is pretty full and is kind hard, but I thing ligaments are still there they are a little bit Squishy.
    So I put them all in birthing stalls just in case. Tell me what you think thanks!

  11. so now we found out that we have 3 goats prego. we have two first timers. they both have started to swell in the udder, but the one ligaments are I think gone. like what is going on?
    Then we have the really old doe that has kidded before. Her bag is pretty full and is kind hard, but I thing ligaments are still there they are a little bit Squishy.
    So I put them all in birthing stalls just in case. Tell me what you think thanks!

    1. Hello, Anna!
      It really is a guessing game with some of these goats you know?! I would think they are close but how close is hard to really pinpoint. Your best bet is to have everything ready to go and when they are kidding you can move, assist, and help where needed.
      Have a way to separate them off if you are able and stand by (not too close) to assist if needed.
      Also, and I cannot stress this enough, have a Vet on call that you can talk to if you need extra support. Remember, phone calls to vets are FREE!!
      Good luck!

  12. . last night one of them had discharge but this morning they didn’t have it any more. last night she was pawing then laying dow then getting up. then this morning I noticed that another goat has started to have discharge. like is she.close?

    1. Usually, the discharge does mean they are very close. It is good you have them separated out. Even after all these years I still find myself early from what I think they will kid and when they actually do. But it is better to be early than late!
      The other signs are just a general guide to use to help us to relax. There is no rhyme or reason as to when it will happen. I had one gal without a single sign she was close until one day she had her head pushed up against the wall. Kids were here 2 minutes later!
      Good luck!
      Tracy Lynn

  13. lily the goat lover says:

    I have a first freshener that has had discharge for like a week and a half. it has been pretty thick fir the last two days. she has been wanting all of the food. And today she didn’t want any food. her udder has filled up a lot and she has a tight udder. She is acting uncomfortable. before I could feel the babies and now I can’t. she is just different today. what’s happening.

    1. If her due date is now, then she is probably close or in the beginning stages of labor. I would keep an eye on her just to be sure she is doing okay. Remember. Goats have been kidding all on their own for centuries. We only need to step in if there is an emergency or if kids are presenting wrong.
      When in doubt or if there is a concern, please call your vet. There is no charge for a call.
      Good luck!
      Tracy Lynn

  14. lily the goat lover says:

    And I have a older doe that keeps her tail up straight. but when she does she also pushes her head against the wall. is it a contraction? and she has a full tight udder too? is she going to kid today?

    1. It is hard to tell without being there, but yes those are all signs that she is close! Keep an eye on her and if you think there is a problem, please contact your vet for advice. Remember, there is no charge for a phone call to your vet!

      Tracy Lynn

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