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Pseudopregnancy in goats – an important cause of subfertility
  1. Paula Menzies
  1. Department of Population Medicine, University of Guelph, Guelph, Canada
  1. email: pmenzies{at}

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Pseudopregnancy – also called pseudocyesis or false pregnancy – is a very common condition of goats that, in some herds, can significantly reduced fertility. The condition occurs in goats of any breed and in any management system, but it is perhaps more thoroughly studied in dairy goats. It is typified by an aseptic accumulation of clear fluid in the uterus, termed hydrometra, and a persistent corpus luteum (Fig 1). It is thought that the accumulation of fluid is caused by the persistent corpus luteum, rather than the reverse.

Fig 1: Hydrometra in a goat euthanased for an unrelated condition. Inset: note that the ovary has two corpus luteaPhoto: Robert Lofstedt, University of Prince Edward Island

Pseudopregnancy is usually first detected between days 29 and 38 of the luteal phase (ie, after oestrus).1 Progesterone levels are similar to those observed during normal pregnancy (ie, serum levels greater than 1 ng/ml). However, these levels decline over time, eventually resulting in the spontaneous evacuation of the uterus.2 The duration of pseudopregnancy is quite variable, ranging from 70 to 180 days, but it is often longer than a normal gestation period of a goat (approximately 150 days).2,3

What you need to know

  • Pseudopregnancy is a very common cause of subfertility in goats herds, and its prevalence may exceed 10 per cent of the does presented for pregnancy diagnosis.

  • Pseudopregnancy is more common in older multiparous does, in does with extended lactations and …

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