Onion Creek Ranch, Lohn, Texas
Suzanne W. Gasparotto, Onion Creek Ranch, Lohn, TX
Lohn, Texas
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Female goats sometimes cycle, mate, and display all the attributes of being pregnant, but in fact are not bred. The uterus fills with large amounts of fluid but no fetus or placenta develops. This condition goes by several names . . . . "false pregnancy," "cloudburst pregnancy," "pseudopregnancy," and medically speaking, "hydrometra."

The precise causes of false pregnancy are not completely understood, though several conditions have been found to be involved in its existence. Delaying estrus (coming into heat) in breeds that cycle seasonally is high on the list of causes. Most breeds of goats, particularly the dairy breeds, come into season as the days begin to shorten; forcing a doe to breed when her body says it is not the right time can result in a pseudopregnancy.

Infectious diseases such as Toxoplasmosis and Border Disease may induce hydrometra in does, and certain plant materials which contain phytoestrogens can be the culprit. Consult a list of plant materials toxic to goats to find out the ones to avoid. A more common cause of hydrometra is the artificial induction of does into heat by producers who use gonadotrophin-releasing hormones to chemically bring them into season.

Until real-time ultrasound technology became available, diagnosis was virtually impossible. At 40 days or more of gestation, the producer and/or his veterinarian can view the uterus via ultrasound to determine if it is liquid-filled or if fetuses are present. For some technical biological reasons related to the development of tissues in the uterus, ultrasounding before 40 days' gestation is not useful.

When a doe spontaneously aborts a pseudopregnancy early in gestation, the material coming from her body may be visually indistinguishable from early-stage fetal abortion. Having done an ultrasound beforehand is the only way to really know what occurred. As the name implies, a cloudburst of liquid materials comes out of the doe's body.

If the doe has not spontaneously aborted an ultrasound-diagnosed false pregnancy and the producer decides that the uterus must be emptied so that she can be immediately re-bred, injections of prostaglandin may be used under close veterinary supervision. The vet may decide to follow up with oxytocin injections, depending upon the results obtained from the prostaglandin treatment. Once the "cloudburst" of fluid has left the doe's body, she can usually be re-bred within two months.

Whatever the actual causes, it appears that external circumstances . . . oftentimes induced by the producer . . . are the reason that hydrometra occurs in female goats. For those of you old enough to remember the butter commercial, "It's not nice to fool Mother Nature."

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All information provided in these articles is based either on personal experience or information provided by others whose treatments and practices have been discussed fully with a vet for accuracy and effectiveness before passing them on to readers.

In all cases, it is your responsibility to obtain veterinary services and advice before using any of the information provided in these articles. Suzanne Gasparotto is not a veterinarian.Neither tennesseemeatgoats.com nor any of the contributors to this website will be held responsible for the use of any information contained herein.

The author, Suzanne Gasparotto, hereby grants to local goat publications and club newsletters, permission to reprint articles published on the Onion Creek Ranch website under these conditions: THE ARTICLE MUST BE REPRODUCED IN ITS ENTIRETY AND THE AUTHOR'S NAME, ADDRESS, AND CONTACT INFORMATION MUST BE INCLUDED AT THE BEGINNING OF THE REPRINT. We would appreciate notification from any clubs or publications when the articles are used. (A copy of the newsletter or publication would also be a welcome addition to our growing library of goat related information!)

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