Intersexed Goat Doe

On Friday, our awesome vet LeeAnn visited to see our goats. Our Alpine, Veronica, has a cough and boogery nose, and we wanted to know if we should be treating her with antibiotics or not. It’s been going on for a couple of weeks, so it’s likely gone from being a virus to being bacterial, and since we had the respiratory ailment spread from our girls Ginger, Lovie, and MaryAnn after bringing them home to Heidi and Gidget, we were concerned that Veronica had picked it up. Sure enough, she did, and so we have her on Liquamycin now.

I also asked LeeAnn to look at our MaryAnn’s, well, ahem. “Ladybits.” *cough*

See, I’ve noticed that her genitalia are quite different from the rest of the girls, and I thought it was perhaps due to her diminutive size. It made me concerned that she should not be bred at the same time as the other girls, because she won’t weigh enough, and perhaps the birthing process would be risky, because her little, ahem, “pooter” sticks out so much.

Well, LeeAnn gave us an interesting bit of information – our MaryAnn is a doeling, but she was masculinized in the womb, receiving a dose of testosterone through the placenta. She is a triplet, and had two brothers, so it does make some sense. It also explains some other stuff, too. You may recall a couple of weeks ago that I posted about her being the only one of our girls to grow a beard – it’s a common trait in goats with Polled Intersex Syndrome.

Just to give an idea of the difference, here’s MaryAnn’s, uh, hiney.

Goats are not really keen on photo shots from this angle. Let’s be honest, I’M not fond on TAKING photo shots from this angle. But hey, man. This is for science. I’m thankful for a good zoom lens. 

And for comparison, here’s Lovie:

Not sure if that’s a mole or a speck of poo, and I wasn’t going to go exploring to find out.

As you can see from the photos, the girls vaginal openings are quite different – MaryAnn’s protrudes from her, whereas Lovie’s is more flush to the rest of her booty. This is one of the identifying marks in Polled Intersex Syndrome, along with some other telltale signs, all of which we’ve also noticed about MaryAnn:

  • Dorsal hair is more like a bucks
  • Head shape is masculine
  • The previously mentioned beard
  • Horn scurs are more common in males (and she has one. Thankfully, though, it hasn’t grown, so we won’t have to remove it unless it does start growing again.)
  • More buck-like behavior

Thankfully, on that last point, she isn’t peeing on her beard and front legs, and hopefully she never will. But she does like to play head-butting games a lot more than the other ladies do, and her dorsal hair (which looks like a bad comb-over when flat) really stands up tall when she does.

Frequently, intersexed does are put down, because they are regarded as dead weight – they are generally sterile, and will therefore never bear kids or milk. However, that thought doesn’t even enter my mind – she’s a sweet little goat, and we really enjoy her personality, so she has an accepting, loving home here.

Of course, George has pointed out that her name should now be MaryMan. *giggle*

MaryMan last week, munching away happily during one of our walks.

I know we will use this knowledge in evaluating any goat does for possible future purchases, or if any of the doe kids born here on our farm have the issue. I hope that this information is helpful to anyone else who is looking to purchase a doe for milking, or those who might already have an intersexed doe within their existing herd. Perhaps it will help them identify why a particular doe hasn’t been able to get pregnant.

Have you come across this issue in your own herd? How have you handled it? I’d love to hear from you with your thoughts and comments.

Related Images:


12 responses to “Intersexed Goat Doe”

  1. Amy Avatar

    Oh, MaryMan! <3

    1. Trase Avatar

      She really is a neat little person – I’ve always enjoyed her personality, and this is just one more facet of her uniqueness!

  2. Bethany Shorb Avatar
    Bethany Shorb

    I’m so happy you’re keeping her and loving her as she is, you’re amazing goat parents!

    1. Trase Avatar

      If I had a child who was transgendered, I certainly wouldn’t send them packing, so I can’t imagine giving her up – these goats are my babies! 🙂

  3. stayhill Avatar

    My Goat (which we saved from the stew pot, looks just like ur goat.
    The info u gave was very helpful.

    1. Trase Avatar

      Glad the information was useful for you! And yay! For saving your goat!!! 🙂

  4. JS Avatar

    Females with beards aren’t necessarily intersexed–several of my girls have beards and all have produced beautiful kids for me–some polled some not.

    1. Trase Avatar

      Right, we are well aware of that, but her other mas­cu­line fea­tures, as men­tioned, in addi­tion to her thick beard (more like a bucks than a does) are what I was trying to highlight here. Also, worth not­ing — she was not actu­ally polled — she had been dis­bud­ded as a kid. Our vet used the term “polled inter­sex” when iden­ti­fy­ing her con­di­tion and so two years ago, when we were still rel­a­tively new to hav­ing goats, I used the term here in this blog post. I’ve since come to learn that she was not, in fact, nat­u­rally polled. 🙂 (She has had horn scurs in the past, in fact.)

      An ultra­sound done in the past revealed that she only has a par­tial uterus, so she is sterile.

      Unless someone looks for genitals, without fail, they always think she is a buck, she’s quite “manly!”

      1. Dorinda Oakes Avatar
        Dorinda Oakes

        A a Breeder of Naturally Hornless goats I want to thank you for mentioning that your goat is not Naturally Hornless(polled) and that your goat was born with horns and then disbudded. The horrifying myth that polled goats are sterile has nearly wiped them out in most breeds because some breeders cull them at birth also. A huge THANK YOU.

        1. Trase Avatar

          We have two naturally polled LaManchas who were born this past Spring and we are THRILLED to have them! Hoping to breed that quality into their offspring.

  5. HappyCat Avatar

    Now that. Is cool. You should keep her as is! I’m actually happy for you, to have such a special girl.

  6. Lb Ryan Avatar
    Lb Ryan

    I would totally send her packing: goat packing is awesome, especially if you take her on hikes, I’m sure she’ll love having the job of carrying a couple of water bottles or snacks (for her too). 😀

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