Pregnancy and Gestation Periods in Farm Animals

Pregnancy, also known as gestation, is the condition where a female animal has young, developing in her uterus. The period of pregnancy also known as the gestation period is the time between conception and parturition (giving birth). It is economically essential to detect if a female animal is pregnant or not.

There are a number of signs shown by female animals that are suggestive of a positive case, but on a proper diagnosis, it may not be found correct. When an animal is pregnant, it can demand a change in her feeding program as well as the management from the early stage. In the case of pregnancy failure due to infertility, sterility, diseases, etc., the causes and curative measures should be inquired about. If it becomes impossible to cure an animal, culling is preferable.

Pregnancy and gestation periods for farm animals
A sow breastfeeding her piglets

Early detection of an animal’s pregnancy thus becomes an indispensable job of any herd owner or farmer.

Methods of Detecting Pregnancy in Animals

The various methods by which pregnancy can be detected in farm animals are:

  • The signs of pregnancy exhibited by the female animals and can be detected externally.
  • The symptoms of pregnancy that can be detected by examination e.g. vaginal examination.
  • Through laboratory tests carried out biologically or chemically.

Signs of Pregnancy in Animals

When an animal is pregnant, there are various signs that the animal will exhibit. Some of these signs are as follows:

  • The animal concerned tends to become sluggish in temperament and more tractable.
  • The animal’s body weight increases in the last half of pregnancy due to the development of the fetus and hypertrophy of the uterus and mammary glands.
  • The animal has a tendency to grow fatter.
  • There are changes in the mammary gland; as parturition approaches, the mammary gland becomes firm, enlarged and glossy, and teats have a waxy appearance.
  • There is a cessation of oestrus (heat); cessation of the oestrus cycle after sexual copulation is the first indication of pregnancy, and it is very reliable although the following should be considered.

Heat may be inhibited following mating due to hormonal dysfunctions. The low intensity of heat may be overlooked and thus the animals may be thought to be pregnant. Sometimes animals still show signs of heat even after they are pregnant.

What is Gestation?

Gestation is another term for pregnancy or conception. The gestation period is the time of conception to the time of giving birth. The gestation period of animal species is different from each other. The chart below shows the gestation periods of some farm animals.

SpecieGestation period (days)
Cattle280 - 291
Horse330 - 345
Pig112 - 120
Sheep144 - 150
Goat148 - 156
Dog56 - 68
Rabbit30 - 35
Cat59 - 68

Pregnancy and gestation are two things that are also important in animal husbandry. They must be considered for the proper management of livestock.

Also Read: Gestation Period Calculators for Various Animals

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Akinbobola A.

I'm a livestock farmer, certified animal scientist and agro consultant. You can follow Livestocking on Facebook and Twitter. Click here to send me an email
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10 thoughts on “Pregnancy and Gestation Periods in Farm Animals”

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