Gestation Periods for Farm Animals


Gestation Periods for Farm Animals

Gestation period of farm animals, It's usually easy to guess- the larger the animal the longer the gestation. Therefore, gestation period is the time interval between the conception time and parturition, that is, the period between the development of a fetus in mature female farm animal and reproduction; this is also called the period of pregnancy.

The gestation period is the time interval between the fertilization of an egg and the birth of the young. The duration of the gestation period of animals will differ markedly between different species of animal. Generally, there are two main factors that give to the length of the gestation period: Animal size or mass larger animals tend to have longer gestation periods (as they tend to make larger offspring).

The level of development at birth – more developed infants will typically need a longer gestation period. The gestation period of farm animals is different for every animal; some farm animals have a short gestation period while other farm animals have a long gestation period.

The information about the gestation period of farm animals is very crucial as it enables farmers to plan adequately, aids productive decision making and allows the development of the business. After successful copulation, fertilization happens and the fetus develops. 

The fetus develops regularly and transforms fully into a replica or kin of the animal within a stipulated period. This period is known as the gestation period. Parturition, the proceeds of giving birth in farm animal, marks the end of the gestation period. Within this period, farmers are expected to carry out a few practices to aid parturition.

One of these is the preparation of the pen so as to create the new animal comfortable and aid growth. Aside from the pre-parturition practices the knowledge of gestation period aids, it helps farmers decide, know when to expand and the expected yield or stock per year.

Some animals can reproduce more than three times in a year, while others are just once; knowledge of the gestation period helps greatly in planning and decision making to develop the productivity of the farm.


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 animal species is different from each other. The chart below shows the gestation periods of some farm animals.

Gestation is also the period of development during the carrying of an embryo, and later fetus, inside viviparous animals. It is typical for mammals, but also occurs for some non-mammals. Mammals during pregnancy can have one or more gestations at the same time, for example in a multiple birth.


Methods of Detecting Pregnancy in Animals

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

· The signs of pregnancy being exhibited by the female animals and this can be detected externally.

· The symptoms of pregnancy that can be detected by examination e.g. vaginum examination.

· Through laboratory tests 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:

· Heat may be inhibited following mating due to hormonal dysfunctions.

· The animal concerned tends to become sluggish in temperament and more tractable.

· The animal has a tendency to grow fat.

· The animal’s body weight increases in the last half of pregnancy due to the development of foetus and hypertrophy of the uterus and mammary glands.

· 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

· 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.

Read: Farm Animals: List, Purpose, Image, Types and Facts

Gestation Period of Cow

Cows are one of the most regular farm animals around the world. A baby cow is known as a calf. A female calf is called a heifer calf and a male a bull calf. A heifer or female calf is a female that has not had any offspring. The size and weight of a cow are highly dependent on the type of breed. Mature males weigh 450 to 1,800 kg (1,000–4,000 pounds) and females weigh 360 to 1,100 kg (800–2,400 pounds).

Gestation Periods for Farm Animals

The gestation period of cow ranges from 279 to 287 days. For most breeds, 283 days would be very common. Cows carrying bull calves tend to have a somewhat longer gestation compared to cows carrying heifer calves. Also, a cow can reproduce once in a year, not like other farm animals that can reproduce twice or three times and above in a year.

Gestation Period of Elephant

Elephants are among the smartest, largest animals on the planet. With all that size and brain power, it should come as no surprise that making a baby elephant is no easy task.

In fact, elephants have so much developing to do in the womb that they actually have the longest pregnancies of any creature on Earth. That’s right; the elephant gestation period is the longest of any animal, even longer than rhinoceros, blue whales, and humans.

Let’s take a look at just how long an elephant’s gestation period is, and learn a little more about elephants themselves along the way.

Elephants have the longest gestation of any creature on the planet.

Gestation Periods for Farm Animals

Asian elephant gestation periods last anywhere from 1822 months, while African elephant gestations last a full 22 months. That’s only two months shy of a twoyear pregnancy! Female elephants begin ovulating between 1012 years old, while bulls don’t become sexually mature until around 14 or 15. Often, young bulls do not get the chance to mate until they’re much older and have moved up in the complex social hierarchy.

In general, the bigger the animal, the longer the pregnancy.

But, why? Larger animals need more time to grow, and since they’re so large, they also tend to live long lives, which longer pregnancies coincide with. But, that’s not all there is to elephant gestation.

Scientists have found that one of the biggest reasons elephants are pregnant for so long is their big brains.

Elephants are born with all the brain cells they’ll ever need, 250 billion of them, to be exact. It takes a lot of development, and time, to grow those big brains. That’s why elephants stay pregnant for at least 18 months, so that, when they’re born, they’re ready to start learning all the things an elephant needs to know to survive.

Gestation Period of Pig

When people look at pigs, they typically see dirty, sloppy animals.

After all, don’t pigs like to wallow in mud? Don’t they eat whatever slops humans put in front of them? Actually, pigs only wallow to keep themselves cool, and many of them are discriminating eaters! Moreover, they make excellent parents, showing care for their piglets long after they’ve reached adulthood. So how many piglets can they have at one time, and how long are pigs pregnant?

Gestation Periods for Farm Animals

The gestation ﴾pregnancy﴿ period of the female pig is 114 days. She will be ready to be bred another time around 57 days after her pigs are weaned ﴾removed from nursing﴿.

Thus if you wean the litter of pigs at 21 days of age she will come into estrus ﴾heat﴿ around 2628 days after farrowing ﴾giving birth﴿.

Pigs are known as highly intelligent, social animals. Their snouts are extremely sensitive, allowing them to forage effectively for food. Domesticated and wild pigs have an obvious difference: the former’s tails are curled, but the latter’s tails are straight.

Pigs vary quite a bit in appearance and size, depending on their species and breed. All pigs, regardless of their type, tend to be bulky in the body with short legs and large snouts. They come in several colors ranging from white, pink, gray, brown, and black. Some have spots or patterns. Most pigs have hairy bristles on their backs or snouts.

Most domesticated pigs fall between 300700 pounds as adults. They stand at about 5197 centimeters, with a body length of 0.9 1.8 meters. The Guinness Book of World Records lists the largest pig in history as Big Bill, who weighed a massive 2,552 pounds ﴾1.16 t﴿! He stood 1.52 meters at the shoulder and stretched an impressive 2.74 meters ﴾ca. 9 ft﴿.

Sows can give birth to litters up to twice a year. More than this, the litter might not be healthy. However, an impregnated female pig can get pregnant every 21 days. This is the length of her fertility cycle after she hits puberty.

 Read: Economic Importance of Animal Husbandry - Specific Benefits of keeping Farm Animals

Gestation Period of Buffalo

India is the first country in the world for a number of buffaloes or water buffaloes and milk production about 134 million tons. Buffalo are great members of the Bovidae family.

The water buffalo is the very largest bovine. The water buffalo is 8 to 9 feet from head to rump with its tail adding an extra 2 to 3.3 feet. They weigh a massive 1,500 lbs to 2,650 lbs. (700 to 1,200 kilograms). The African buffalo is very small, but they are still quite impressive in size.

The gestation period of water buffalo is longer than that of cows which is between 281 to 334 days.

Gestation Periods for Farm Animals

Murray buffalo’s gestation period is around 315 days and Swamp buffalo’s gestation period is around 330 days. The American Bison’s gestation period is around 283 days.


Gestation Period of Sheep

Sheep are a farm animal with thick curly hair that eats grass. Domestic sheep vary from their wild relatives and ancestors in some respects, having become uniquely neotenic as a result of selective breeding by humans.

A few primitive breeds of sheep retain some of the characteristics of their wild cousins, such as small tails. Most horned breeds have a single pair, but a few breeds can have several. Depending on the breed, sheep varies a range of heights and weights. Their rate of growth and mature weight is a heritable trait that is selected for inbreeding. Ewes normally weigh between 100 and 220 lbs, and rams between 45 and 160 kilograms (100 and 350 lbs).

Gestation Periods for Farm Animals

The average gestation period for sheep is approximately 147 days, varies from 144 to 152 days. Sheep can reproduce twice in a year.


Gestation Period of Goat

Most goat breeds, including most dairy breeds, are seasonal breeders, meaning they come into a season of estrus for a few months out of the year. This includes Pygoras, a fiber producing breed.

Nigerian Dwarf, Boers, Spanish, fainting goats, and pygmy goats are year round breeders.

When breeding the doe, look for estrus. Tail wagging, bleating, and a mucus discharge from the vulva are some common signs of goat reproduction. She will have an estrus cycle approximately every 20 days. During the two or three days that she is in heat, the ovaries release eggs. If breeding occurs during this time, the doe will likely end up pregnant.

In most breeds, fertility cycles occur late summer into late fall or early winter. Commonly, does will be in estrus or heat during August, September and October. If you have a buck in with the does, he will also alert you to a doe in heat. Bucks have distinct behavior during breeding season, including tongue flapping and a distinctly unpleasant smell from the urine. Be cautious when thinking about running a buck with the herd. If he has access to the does all the time, it is harder to estimate when the kidding will take place.

While many does can and do give birth unassisted, even in the field, occasionally assistance or emergency methods are needed. Knowing approximately when your does will kid gives you a chance to be on hand to assist. Keep in mind that even older does, that should not be bred any longer, will still cycle and have a heat. They often have more problems with goat gestation. If you do not want to put an older female at risk of a problem goat pregnancy, make sure she has no contact with a buck during breeding season.

Gestation Periods for Farm Animals

Goat gestation is approximately 150 days. Of course, this will vary based on individuals and breeds. Knowing how long a doe is pregnant is key to scheduling your kidding season. Breed the doe to kid at a convenient time by counting back from the desired time frame.

For most of the goat’s gestation period, you won’t need to change her routine. If the doe is in good condition before breeding, she will be able to breeze through the pregnancy. Add additional care during the last few days.

At 100 days, increase the feed according to the recommendations from the feed company. Trimming hair from the udder and crotch area may be needed, depending on the goat.

In selenium deficient areas, give selenium injections one month before the due date. If you are unsure if your area’s soil is deficient in selenium, ask your livestock vet or a county ag­extension agent.

In addition, many goat breeders will give a vitamin booster of A, D and E around day 135. As kidding time approaches, prepare smaller birthing areas in your barn. A larger stall can be sectioned off into a few kidding pens so the doe can labor and deliver in a quiet environment. Line the floor with deep straw and prepare your emergency goat delivery supplies, keeping these supplies close at hand.

Few goats will wait to go into labor while you run back to the house to collect supplies. And while I believe that most goats don’t need us in order to deliver healthy kids, you will be so glad you prepared for emergencies if problems happen.


Read: Propagation of Crops- All You Need to Know

Gestation Period of Donkeys

Donkeys also called as asses or burros, have long been a companion and work animals for humans. Donkeys are often labeled with their sizes, which range from less than three feet tall to over 14 hands.

A hand, a unit of measurement equaling 4 inches, normally serves to measure the height of horses and other equines from the ground to the highest point of the shoulders, called the withers. Size classifications consist of miniature, standard, large standard and mammoth stock.

Gestation Periods for Farm Animals

Miniatures are 36 inches to 48 inches high. Standards are 36 inches to 48 inches tall. Large standards are 48 inches to 54 inches for jennets or 56 inches for jacks. Mammoth jennets are 54 inches or above; mammoth jacks are 56 inches or taller. 

The average gestation period for the donkey is approximately 365 days


Gestation Period of Rabbits

Rabbits are small, mammals with long ears, short fluffy tails, and strong, large hind legs. They have two pairs of sharp incisors (front teeth), one pair on top and one pair on the bottom. They also have two peg teeth behind the top incisors. Their teeth are specially adapted for gnawing and grow continuously throughout their lives.

Rabbits differ in color and size, ranging in weight from 2 to 16 pounds (1 to 7 kilograms), depending on breed. Pet rabbits that have been well taken care of and spayed or neutered early in life have a life expectancy of 8 years to 12 years.

Gestation Periods for Farm Animals

The gestation period of a rabbit is approximately 31 days. Rabbit has the shortest gestation period of one month or less. Rabbits are prolific animals. They can reproduce up to 10 times a year.


Gestation Period of Camel

The camel is a very large, humpbacked mammal, and the first animal domesticated by man in prehistoric times. A Bactrian camel, according to the San Diego Zoo, grows to a shoulder height of 6 feet (1.8 meters) and a body length of 10 feet or 3 meters.

Gestation Periods for Farm Animals

They generally weigh 1,320 to 2,200 lbs. (600 to 1,000 kg) when they are fully grown. Dromedary camels get up to about 6.5 feet or 2 meters tall at the shoulder and weigh 880 to 1,325 lbs. (400 to 600 kg).

The gestation period for camel is generally from 360 to 420 days with an average of 390 days.


Gestation Period of Horses

Horses have a gestation period that lasts approximately 340 days. If that sounds like a long time to wait for the baby to be born, you’d be no better off raising llamas (350 days) or donkeys (365 days).

The horses are one of two extant subspecies of Equus ferus. Depending on the breed, management, and the environment, the modern domestic horse has a life expectancy of 25 years to 30 years.

Gestation Periods for Farm Animals

The height of the horses is measured at the highest point of the withers, the neck meets the back.

This point is used since it is a stable point of the anatomy, unlike the head or neck, which moves up and down in relation to the body of the horse. The size of horses varies by breed but is influenced by nutrition.

 Read: History of Agriculture – All you need to know

Summary on Gestation Periods for Farm Animals

For mammals the gestation period is the time in which a fetus develops, beginning with fertilization and ending at birth. The duration of this period varies between species.

Farms -   Gestation Period (Days)

  • ·  Alpaca  335-366
  • ·  Baboon 187
  • ·  Bear (black) 220
  • ·  Bear (grizzly)  215
  • ·  Bear (polar)  241
  • ·  Beaver  122
  • ·  American Bison  217
  • ·  Camel (Bactrian)  360-420
  • ·  Cat (domestic)  58–67, Average 64
  • ·  Chimpanzee  230–250
  • ·  Chinchilla  105–115
  • ·  Chipmunk  31
  • ·  Cow  279–292
  • ·  Deer (white-tailed)  201
  • ·  Dog (domestic)  58–65, Average 61
  • ·  Donkey  365
  • ·  Elephant (Asian)  617
  • ·  Elephant (African)  645
  • ·  Elk (Wapiti)   240–250
  • ·  European mink  38-76
  • ·  Ferret (domestic)  41-42
  • ·  Fox (red)   52
  • ·  Gerbil  22-26
  • ·  Giraffe  420–450
  • ·  Goat (domestic)  145–155
  • ·  Gorilla  255-260
  • ·  Guinea pig  56-74
  • ·  Hamster  16-23
  • ·  Hippopotamus  225–250
  • ·  Horse  330–342
  • ·  Human  266
  • ·  Kangaroo  42
  • ·  Leopard  92–95
  • ·  Lion  108
  • ·  Llama  330
  • ·  Mink   40–75
  • ·  Monkey (rhesus)  164
  • ·  Moose  240–250
  • ·  Mouse  19 Mouse (meadow)
  • ·  21 Muskrat  28–30
  • ·  Opossum (Virginia)  12–13
  • ·  Otter - 60-86
  • ·  Pig (domestic) 112–115
  • ·  Porcupine  210
  • ·  Puma  90
  • ·  Rabbit (domestic)  28–35, Average 31- 32
  • ·  Raccoon  63
  • ·  Rat 21-23
  • ·  Rhinoceros (black)  450
  • ·  Seal 330
  • ·  Sea lion (California) 350
  • ·  Sheep (domestic) 144–151
  • ·  Squirrel (gray)  30–40
  • ·  Tiger  105–113
  • ·  Whale (sperm)  480–590
  • ·  Wolf  60–68
  • ·  Wombat  26–28
  • ·  Zebra (Grant's)  361-390
Pregnancy and gestation are two things that are also important in animal husbandry. They must be considered for the proper management of livestock. 

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