Breeding Management

Doe goats of breeding age should be considered production units. Costs incurred by maintaining or supplementing this unit must be balanced by a return in the form of live, salable product.

Billy with nannies

Billy with nannies

In other words if you have to feed more feed, call the vet more often or give more medicine, you have to be able to produce more live kids to balance the check book. Flushing your does is one supplemental cost that should balance by producing more live kids.

Female goats are for the most part, easy to spot when they are in heat. An observant manager should be able to identify most does in heat by observing the females a few times a day. There are does that are nearly silent in their heat periods. Even the most observant managers may not be able to identify does in "silent" heat. Goats are for the most part seasonal breeders. This means that they do not exhibit heat or periods of estrus year round. Most goats are fall breeders and will come into heat during the months of September thru February. Does experience estrus or come into heat about every 18-22 days during that period.

Does in heat will usually display several signs to let you and the buck know that they are ready to breed. The doe will bleat as if hungry or in pain, driving your close neighbors crazy. She will usually wag her tail from side to side constantly. In most does the vulva will swell slightly and appear reddened. Some does will have a discharge from the vulva that can make the tail look wet or dirty. Does will often refuse feed or will decrease their consumption of feed. You may notice your does urinating more frequently as they try to let the buck know they are interested.

If you have a group of does that don't seem to show many signs of heat, it may be necessary to bring an old, smelly buck into fence line contact to force them to display. When a buck has been introduced into the pasture next door the does will tend to pace back and forth along the fence or stand backed up to the fence, allowing the buck to smell them. Many times one doe in heat will cause other does to exhibit heat as well. Most folks who don't observe signs of heat in their does usually only have one or two does. These small producers will need to be very observant of any display of heat their does may exhibit. I like to mark the calendar when I observe a doe displaying unusual behavior. Eighteen to twenty-two days later, I can usually count on a repeat of the behavior, a good indication she is in heat.

The period of estrus or heat in your goats will usually last between 12 and 48 hours. This period is referred to as "standing heat". Ovulation in the female occurs 12 to 36 hours after the onset of standing heat. If there is a discharge from the doe's vulva during the heat period, it will begin as a clear, sticky substance and become white toward the end of the heat period.

It is not a good idea to leave the buck in with the does for the entire breeding season. When the newness of a buck in the pasture has worn off the does become so familiar with the buck that they will not allow him to mount. As the newness wears off the buck tends to get lazy and the manager assumes all of the does are bred. Turning your buck in with your does for about 45 days will cover two complete heat cycles and should be long enough to settle your does. Bucks in good condition should be able to service 20 to 30 does.