Mean, Aggressive Does
by Laurie Stroupe
A pregnant doe or a doe that badly wants to be bred can be mean as a rattlesnake.
I’ve had a few pregnant does charge me, and one or two have bitten me. I do put up with it in pregnant does. I do not put up with that behavior from bucks, though. They don’t have the excuse that their hormones are raging (and, by the way, does can act that way when they really want to be bred, too).
Those same does can be sweeties when they have their babies, though. Katee use to bite and charge, but after a couple of litters, she doesn’t even do that when pregnant now. She’s a total darling. To meet her now, you’d think I’d been telling tales on her.
Some people take to wearing gloves with pregnant does. I found that the gloves scared them even more. They tend to charge things even more than they charge me. And pregnant does like strangers even less than they like things poking into their cages. Warn any substitute caregivers about cranky does.
I find that it is best just to take more time with a high strung, pregnant doe. Make sure you talk to her and get her attention before you put your hand into her cage. Never surprise her or you could end up the one with the bigger surprise. Move slowly and at her level. If that still doesn’t work, then distract her into one corner while you remove her bowl for refilling. Or, remove her from the cage while you do your chores. That cage is now her nest spot and she might not want anyone messing with it for any reason.
If it is any consolation, I have found that does that are mean during pregnancy usually make great moms. They have lots of hormonal activity and that usually means good milk and strong mothering instincts.
Although I am very lenient with cranky does, they must come around at some point, or they cannot stay in my barn. Temperament is an important ingredient in your breeding program, in my opinion. The trick is to identify which actions are temperament and which are just the temporary effect of raging hormones.