How to tell if your animal is on heat

Female animals have a particular period when they willingly allow mating with the males. This period is known as the heat or estrus period. 

But what is Estrus or Heat?

It is a recurring period when a female animal is fertile and sexually ready to mate or be serviced. Servicing is the act of mating between male and female animals.

Estrus is an important aspect of animal breeding because it determines how fast your herd increases. If heat doesn’t occur, there is no pregnancy. Estrous cycles start after puberty in sexually mature females and typically continue until death.

The heat period terminates with ovulation. It is worth noting that heat periods don’t last long in animals. Different animals have different estrus lengths and different estrous cycles.

Estrus cycle length

After puberty, a heifer has regular estrous cycles every 21 days (the normal range is every 18 to 24 days). The estrous cycle of ewes lasts 17 days and 21 days for the doe. A gilt or sow has a 21 days cycle.

So how do you tell when a female animal is on heat?

As a breeder, it is critical to know signs of an animal on heat because it will be used to determine when it is time to introduce a male to the female animal or inseminate her.

There are uncommon occasions where a female animal doesn’t show any sign of heat, but fortunately, the male animal would detect the readiness of the female. So, that is why it is good to have teaser males among your animals. A teaser male is sexually sensitive but cannot impregnate your animal. 

How to tell if your animal is on heat

What are the Signs of Heat in Farm Animals?

These are basically signs that animals show when they are sexually receptive or fertile:

  1. Restlessness and isolation: The animal becomes restless and sometimes isolates itself from other animals.
  2. Sexual excitements: The animal shows signs of sexual excitement like mounting on others or standing to be mounted.
  3. Reduced or loss of appetite: The reaction of the animal to feed is reduced or totally lost.
  4. Increased body temperature: The animal develops unusual high body temperature.
  5. Vaginal discharge: Upon careful examination, you will notice some slimy or clear mucus discharge from the animal’s vulva.
  6. Mounting: An animal on heat usually mounts other animals or stands to be mounted. This is observed in majority of domestic animals.
  7. Frequent urination: The animal keeps urinating and in small volumes.
  8. Swollen and reddened vulva: This is very common in pigs.
  9. Making of undue noise: The animal bleats, mows or snorts.
  10. Licking of other animals’ body: You will notice the animal on heat grooming its mate.

Watch out for the above signs if you plan to breed or inseminate any female animal. These signs are very visible in mammalian species like cattle, goats, sheep, pigs, horses, camels, and donkeys.

If a livestock farmer has female animals that don’t show the signs of estrus or heat, you need to introduce teaser males in order to know when the female animals are ready to be serviced. In addition, consult your Vet if you encounter challenges breeding your animals.

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