20 days pregnant: Listening for a baby goat heartbeat
Mrs. Robinson hit 20 days this weekend which, according to my handy dandy goat fetal development chart, means we should be able to hear the heartbeat! I wish I had one of those cute apps to attach to my facebook announcing, "My baby goat is the size of a mandarin orange today" but they don't quite make those. So Mom (who was up from Oregon for the weekend) and I put Mrs. R on the milk stand and got out the stethoscope. The only problem is...goats have a lot of stuff going on in there!
First a little refresher on how goats (and other ruminants) digest their food:
When a goat eats, their food goes straight to the rumen, the first of their four chambered stomachs. From here the food begins fermenting as it is digested by the micro-organisms living in the rumen. Just like with cows and sheep you'll see the goat regurgitate the cud to chew on it some more, swallow and then repeat. As they chew they keep the cud in their cheeks which makes them look like their face is swollen from having their wisdom teeth removed. When the rumen is working it also helps to keep the goat warm which is why you should always give fresh hay before bedtime.
A healthy rumen makes a "growling" sound a few times every minute which is what we heard when we put our stethoscope up to Mrs. Robinson (the rumen is on the left side of the goat). But then we started feeling around a little more, and we think we heard the heart beat! Just one but it sounded really strong and beautiful. Here's a picture of Mom and Mr. Nick, with him feigning a heart beat and Mom not quite falling for it. Oh they make me laugh.
Typical Goat Fetal Development
- Heart Beat Apparent: 20 days
- limb buds visible: 28-35 days
- differentiation of digits: 35-42 days
- nostrils and eyes differentiated: 42-49 days
- eyelids close: 49-56 days
- horn pits appear: 77-84 days
- hair around eyes and muzzle: 98-105 days
- tooth eruption: 98-105 days
- hair covering body: 119-126 days
- length of fetus at 30 days: 1.4 cm
- length of fetus at 145 days: 43.0 cm