Breeding your goats for the first time can be very exciting. The promise of cute babies, milk and increasing your herd genetics can make new goat owners eager to get started with breeding right away. But, there’s a lot more to knowing how to breed goats than just sticking a male goat and a female goat together.
Health and Wellness
Before considering breeding your goats, you must be sure that all of the goats being considered for breeding are in good health. Make sure your does are a good weight and a proper age of maturity to be bred. Some does mature more slowly, so each should be looked at individually. Do a fecal check for internal parasites. Look for signs of external parasites. Check your doe’s weight and make sure it’s in a good range – too thin can indicate problems, and carrying too much fat can interfere with settling and kidding.
Make sure your herd is well supplemented with copper and selenium before breeding, both does and bucks. These minerals both contribute to fertility, and can cause issues if they’re lacking.
Not every buck belongs with every doe. Have a plan for who is being put together with the intent of improving the genetic pool. Do you need more milk production in your herd? Use a buck that’s going to improve that. Want nicer show goats? Pick a buck with great conformation. If you really want to be serious about it, look at the pedigrees of the goat’s you plan to breed. Check Linear Appraisal Scores and DHIR milk records if they’re available. If your goats are registered with the American Dairy Goat Association, you can also run potential breedings through ADGA Genetics.
Breeding goats should take a lot of forethought. If you don’t have bucks of your own, it will take even more planning to research bucks that may be available to you. If you’re doing driveway breedings or leasing a buck, don’t forget to practice good biosecurity and ensure the herd is tested and disease free.
Standard sized goats have a breeding season that falls within the autumn months. A goat’s heat cycle happens every 18-21 days during that season, and can last from a few hours to about three days. Because of this, it’s important to plan your breedings to take advantage of those fertile days for your doe. Track their heats and watch carefully so you can catch optimal breeding times.
Bucks also going into rut in the fall months. This means it’s also their optimal breeding time. It will be easy to spot as your bucks begin to fight more, pee on themselves excessively, make tons of noise and stink to high heavens.
Nigerian Dwarf and Pygmy goats are the exception to this, as they can breed year round. This is a great option to have if you want to have milk production year round, as you can stagger your breedings. Even so, these goats will still have stronger heats during the standard goat breeding season in the fall. Bucks will also rut in the fall just like standard sized goats.
Even with all the prep work in the world, sometimes goats just don’t cooperate when it’s time to get down to business. Be prepared. Sometimes virgin does will panic and need to be held for breeding. Other times, a doe or a buck will just decide they don’t “feel it” with the partner we’ve picked for them. Sometimes a buck needs a good work up to performing.
Doing the Deed
We reserve an empty stall for breeding. When a doe is in heat, we place her in the stall with the intended buck, and make sure we witness the breeding take place. Once a doe is standing in place and the buck mounted the doe, you should see him thrust several times. You will know he’s ejaculated when we gives one final thrust, and the doe hunches up. We also visually check the doe’s vulva to see if we can see semen present. We like to witness a breeding a few times if possible.
Make sure you write down any dates when your doe is bred, even if you don’t think the breeding was completed. If a doe short cycles and comes back into heat in 5 days, breed her again to the same buck and keep a record of both sets of dates. We track all of our goat information through EasyKeeper software, and I record all breedings and any relevant details. This way I can compare years if i ever think I’m running into issues.
Once you believe your doe has been bred, keep track of the timing and watch for her to come back into heat. If we don’t witness a doe come into heat again after 30 days, we do a blood test to determine if they’re pregnant. We like to do this to ensure we don’t miss anybody, as their heats can become less detectable as they come out of breeding season.
Once we have confirmed our does are bred, we will publish the confirmation on our website so people can make reservations on that breeding. We are always excited to share the news that our girls our expecting.
Once you know the breeding is successful, it’s important to give your pregnant does the care they will need throughout their gestation, which will be axp. 5 months, or 145 – 155 days depending on the breed of your goat.