Tail Ligaments

Tail Ligaments

Will She Kid Tomorrow?
or…
How to Check Tail Ligaments

pictured above is Maggie (Jasper Farm FG’s La Gazzaladra) moments before kidding, 2016

In watching for kiddings,  I have certainly spent my fair share of time running back and forth to the barn, and on pins and needles every time I have to leave the house.  Early on, my sweet non-complaining does (hmmm…) have spent days and even a couple weeks in their kidding stall prior to kidding because I just wanted to be on the safe side.  This is even when I had a firm breeding date – somehow I always seem to be expecting them a few days ahead.  With the exception of 2014, when the babies all surprised me one breeding cycle earlier…and in that case, only the first set of twins surprised me as after that I knew it was time to start checking tail ligaments!

I can’t say enough how much smoother kidding season is for us now that I check tail ligaments on a regular basis.  It is useful if you have a firm breeding date, but it is also useful if you just have a vague idea of the breeding date.  I don’t know why I felt that this skill was beyond me in our first couple years with goats, but I’m glad I moved past that silliness and figured it out!

Checking the tail ligaments has allowed me to consistently predict when kidding is imminent, within the next 24 hours.  Unless for some reason I am going to be gone overnight, I don’t even move my does into their maternity stalls until we are in that 24-hr time period, which allows them to stay with the herd and feel relaxed until just before kidding (at which point, they are pretty distracted by the whole process and I think they like having their own “room” then!)

Next time you go out to the pasture, go ahead and check some tail ligaments, even on the boys, it doesn’t matter, just so you can find them and see what they feel like when they are nowhere near kidding (with the boys, seriously nowhere near kidding!).  I like to start checking them daily at least 2 weeks out from the expected kidding date, and I usually feel subtle changes in the softening and widening out of the ligaments at various points throughout that period of time.  When the doe is pretty close, the softening becomes more noticeable, and then when the doe is really close, there is a dramatic opening up of that whole area and I either can’t find the ligaments at all, or they are so very soft that they have almost disappeared completely.

Here’s what you do:

  •  Hold the fingers of your hand (I use my right hand) in a V shape.  Let’s say that the top (widest part of the V) is North, and the bottom (point) is South.
  •  Place the point of the V over the doe’s tail bone, with the V opening up so that the tail is a bit north of the North end of your V.  (Tail above the wide opening).
  •  Now resting the point (South) of the V on that tail bone, use your V fingers to press along either side of the tail bone, feeling for the tail ligaments.  For me, I usually find them while my fingers are in a fairly normal V-shape, so if you find that you are really stretching them out or making any unusual shapes, get back to the normal V.
  •  Normal tail ligaments will feel much like pencils…as kidding approaches, they soften and finally melt away.

It’s just a great way to take away any guess work and really get in touch with how your doe’s body is really progressing towards the big moment.  It has consistently put me on the 24-hr alert!

A good video:

Signs of Labor in Goats – Tail Ligaments by the Goat Mentor
She doesn’t do the V with her fingers but it’s absolutely a great visual, and the demonstration itself is less than 2 minutes.

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