Pregnancy and Gestation Periods for Farm Animals

What is Pregnancy or Gestation?

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 gestation period is the time between conception and parturition (giving birth). It is economically important to detect if a female animal is pregnant or not.

There are a number of signs shown by female animals that are suggestive for 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 programme 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. If it becomes impossible to cure an animal, culling is preferable.

Pregnancy and gestation periods for farm animals
Sow breastfeeding her piglets

Early detection of pregnancy of an animal 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:

  • Through signs of pregnancy exhibited by the female animals and this can be detected externally.
  • Through symptoms of pregnancy which can be detected by examination e.g. vaginum examination.
  • Through laboratory test carried out biologically or chemically.

Signs of Pregnancy

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.
  • There is an increase in body weight of the animal in the last half of pregnancy due to the development of foetus and hypertrophy of the uterus and mammary glands.
  • The animal has a tendency to grow fat.
  • There are changes in the mammary gland; as parturition approaches, the mammary gland becomes firm, enlarged and glossy, teats have a waxy appearance.
  • There is a cessation of oestrus (heat); cessation of 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.
    • Low intensity of heat maybe 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/conception. The gestation period is the time of conception to the time of giving birth. The gestation period of animals 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 proper management of livestock.

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Akinbobola A.

I am an entrepreneur, certified animal scientist, consultant and blogger. You can follow Livestocking on Facebook and Twitter. Click Here to E-mail me
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10 thoughts on “Pregnancy and Gestation Periods for Farm Animals”

  1. Comment: I’m a corps member I study animal science, please sir I have a practical experience on broiler, goats and dogs including other farm animals. I plead to work with you in your farm I like practicing what I study. thank you sir hope to here from you

    • I don’t really understand what you mean by mixture. They need to be fed with herbage and concentrates. Herbage include Edible grasses like Elephant grass, Spear grass, Guinea grass and leguminous shrubs. You should also be giving them concentrates like growers mash occasionally.

  2. I really appreciate your time, I am a student studying livestock management, bovine herd, I really like your notes if you can be sending me on my email, courses like genetics,reproduction, principal of nutrition, statistics and farm management. I look forward to your favorable response

  3. Thanks for your usual assistance sir,i am Civil Engineer but I have interest in animals production and health (goat). Pls I need ur absolute help by providing details eBook that simplifies and guides as a beginner in the field. Also how many time does a goat reproduces in a year.thank for ur unpayable and remarkable services.

  4. Good evening sir. I am a pharmacy graduate but I have interest in animal husbandry ( mostly pigs, poultry, fish ,snails, grasscutter and goats).I am not yet grounded in these field because I didn’t study it in school. Sir I would appreciate it if you could help me with some ebooks on them and also recommend animal farms in Benin city where I could go for training.


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