Advice Page 11

Gestation and Care of Jennet During Gestation


Jennet will carry a foal an average of 12 months before giving birth. However, the length of gestation ranges from 11 to almost 14 months. Considering the length of gestation it is wise to consider the time of year that the jennet will foal, and condine the breeding season from May 1 to August 1 in cold climates. Either side of these dates will require a suitable barn and good foaling facilities to ensure the survival of the foal and well being of the jennet.


Jennets should maintain a quiet lifestyle during pregnancy with regular exercise either at liberty, or riding and driving if they are used to such work up until the last quarter of pregnancy. Hard or fast work should be avoided during the last quarter of pregnancy. Hard or fast work should be avoided during the last quarter of pregnancy.

Regular hoof care is important. Regular deworming is necessary to maintain jennets in good condition for foaling. Check with a veterinarian before giving any deworming medication in the last quarter (3 months) of gestation. Some products are safe during this time period and others are not.

Unless jennets are thin, the feeding program can remain unchanged until the last quarter (3 months) of gestation when the fetus grows the most. Excessive feed early in pregnancy will create obesity and potential foaling problems. Increased feed should be maintained from the final quarter of pregnancy throughout the first three months after birth. Maximum milk production occurs in the three months after foaling.


Jennets are rarely consistent in showing the same signs of impending birth from one pregnancy to the next. However, jennets will generally show some or all of the following signs:

  • The udder gradually enlarges about 30 days before birth of the As the birth date approaches the udder becomes enlarged and remains enlarged.
  • The teats enlarge to the very tip severd1 days before birth.
  • A waxy secretion that forms a cap over the end of each teat may form up to 48 hours before birth. Some jennets actually drip milk in the last 24 to 48 hours. Do not milk the jennet at this stage.
  • Softening of the pelvic ligaments creates a groove along either side of the spinal column in the loin area toward the tail head. This sign may go unnoticed in a first foaler or a jennet with a winter coat.
  • The vulva becomes very soft and loose during the last week or two of pregnancy, and gradually enlongates las birth approaches. Birth is usually in matter of hours when the lips of the vulva are swollen out to be flush with hindquarters.
  • A jennet may be unfriendly towards other animals and prefer to stand by itself.
  • The jennet will show restlessness as the foal turns and prepares to move into the birth passage. At this stage she may look thinner, walk the stall and get up and down a number of Sometimes birth occurs immediately after the foal has turned, or sometimes the jennet will wait for another day or so.
  • Just before birth, the jennet’s tail will be carried out away from the body, lifted and usually kinked to one side. She may frequently pass small amounts of soft manure or urinate.