Goat Breeding Information
Written by Administrator-GL   
Saturday, 30 June 2007

Love is in the Air... Or is that "Billy" I smell?

The Dog Days of Summer.

Ahhh Yes.. It IS that time of year.. once again. Some of us look forward to it all year and some of us dread it.

Anyway you see it, it IS going to happen. The days get shorter and the night time temperatures start to drop and this signals all of our little darlings  .. "it's time to think about making babies".

 For those who have no bucks, this presents less in the way of extra work. You still need to get your does in tip top shape, plan your breeding dates to correspond around shows, activities, vacations and /or weather conditions for kidding.  You also need to plan and reserve your buck services.

Success of breeding depends greatly on the conditions of both the doe and the buck.

General Preparation for Breeding Goats:

Much of the early preparation you can do during the summer. Depending on what breed/breeds you are raising, can have an effect on when you should breed for optimum results. Your geographical location will also be a determining factor, as different climates will certainly affect when you want to breed for the desired timing of putting kids on the ground. If you raise dairy goats, you will also want to consider planning for a continuous supply of milk and possible show dates. If fiber goats, you will want to plan on shearing dates and show times.. etc. Schedule your breeding dates for a 145-155 day gestation period - Which is approximately 5 months.

Doe Preparation:

Prepare your does for the upcoming breeding, 5 month gestation and successful kidding by getting them into tip-top health before you breed. Optimum conditions for a breeding doe is one of good physical condition - not under weight nor overweight. Deworm the does at the end of August and again the second week of September. Trim all hooves as this is a very active time for everyone. Shear the fiber breeds. Make sure they all  have plenty of good quality hay. Now is a good time to begin slowly offering them daily grain if they have not been on it all summer. Make sure to have minerals and salt available to them free choice.

A doe in good physical condition will not only provide a better atmosphere for growing healthy fetuses, but will produce more ova and therefore produce more kids per doe. Multiple births produces more milk. More milk provides kids with enough nutrition for growing healthy and if a dairy goat, will be a higher milk producer for your family consumption.  Shiny coats, bright eyes and an energetic doe is just right for breeding. She should be putting on weight before and continue for a few weeks after successful breeding.

Buck Preparation:

If you have your own bucks, now is the time of year they wait all spring and summer for. The arrival of breeding season! Keep in mind, the old saying.."Your buck is half of your herd." Make sure he is happy and healthy. He will be half of every kid on your farm.

Breeding Season or "Rut" can be a very stressful time for your buck. He will be so busy  swooning over the ladies he will not eat as he should and will lose weight, called "going off his feed". Start him out in more than optimum health. This does not mean to all of a sudden load him up with grain. This would be a sure-fire way to make him sick.   Slowly increase his intake of grain and always make sure he has top quality hay. He needs minerals and salt to himself and plenty of fresh water.

If you have been running the buck/bucks in with the does all summer now is the time to separate them - if you have not already. Go over your fencing and make sure they are stout. Your bucks will certainly test them out these next 6 months. Make sure all his shelters are water proof and wind proof. Deworm him 30 days before breeding and make sure his feet are trimmed and healthy. As rut begins he will run the risk of urine scald on the backs of his front legs - so remember to check them daily in heavy rut and weekly in less aggressive rut. Apply diaper-rash cream such as Desitin Ointment. This will sooth and keep the skin from becoming more irritated.  Make sure his feet are in good shape as he will be a busy goat for the next 6 months and needs to be stable on his feet.

As you can well imagine, this time of year is stressful for both bucks and does. Even though the bucks may be a little more "fragrant" during this time, they still need attention and love. Many goat breeders do not like the smell of a buck in rut, Personally I don't mind it a bit.

Decide your Breeding Style:

You need to decide how you plan to breed. Are you going to breed standing (also referred to as hand breeding)? Do you have specific bucks you will place with the does for a period of 2 cycles? (also referred to as field breeding) or Do you plan on bringing an outside buck in to service you does? (This is typically done as a standing breeding, although you could retain the buck for a period of time to place in with your does.)

Should you decide to bring in a buck, keep in mind that you will be waiving the typical quarantine time you would usually perform when introducing a strange goat to your herd, unless you plan to hire him for a month before you place him with your does.

Depending on the set up at your own farm, you will notice that the buck will bring the does into heat cycle, this happens usually about 10 days after the introduction of the buck. This can also be forced by the use of a buck rag- ( a cloth that has been rubbed on the scent glands behind the front legs and head scent glands of a buck in rut to bring the odor to your own farm and hung on a fence to stimulate the does into a heat cycle.) This is particularly useful when you are bringing an outside buck in for breeding.
If you keep more than one buck in your pens, you will notice as the night temperatures drop, the bucks will engage in head butting and vocalization.
If you use a young buck he may be a little unsure at first of what to do, you may need to bring in a "teaser buck". Once a second buck is there as a challenge, it's amazing how quick the youngster catches onto what he needs to do.

You can figure one seasoned buck can service about 20-30 does in a season. You can also figure depending on the breed of goat, a buckling at 3 months old "could" impregnate your does. If you think size is a factor, think again. An insistent buck with an interested doe will "find a way" to reach her for proper mounting. As well, if you think your 3 month old does cannot get pregnant, think twice. Assisting an 8 month old doeling giving birth is not fun, nor is it good for the doeling.

The Early Goat CourtShip:

As breeding season arrives, you  will notice your does calling out to the buck/bucks and flagging (wagging) their tails. If there is a common fence, the does will stand next to the fence and "talk" to the boys. She will squat and urinate for the buck when she has decided this would be the time she would accept him. If they are together with no barriers, she would stand for breeding at this time for him. Some does prefer to stand still and allow the buck to mount her, some prefer to walk and have the buck mount her while she is moving.

Upon the arrival of rut, the buck will begin to holler out and paw at the fencing and ground. He may ram his horns or head against the fence in attempt to break down the barrier. If he is penned with other bucks they will challenge one another with head butting and possible arguments. They may mount each other as they get more frustrated. They will also turn their faces around to their own under belly and urinate on their faces and mouth their penis. This is all natural and every buck in rut does it.  It is not disgusting or weird, it is extremely natural and the bucks are very proud of their accomplishments!  The stickier the legs and faces get , the more proud they seem to be.
Here is a Prime example of one of my boys in and out of rut- the black on his face is from consistant peeing on his face and will be white and clean again in spring when he stops his boyish behavior. :)

The buck will also stick his nose under a urinating doe to smell the hormone level.

How to Tell When your Doe is Ready:

There are signs to look for to know when your does are ready to stand for a buck.
The usual heat cycle for a dairy doe is 21 days. She remains in heat for typically 3 days, day #2 being the most active and many breeders wait for day #2 to breed. The most  likely time she will conceive is generally an 18 to 24 hour period somewhere in the middle of this 3 day cycle.
Many times the doe will have a second cycle 3 weeks after her breeding. This should be of no concern. If she comes back into heat 6 weeks after her initial breeding, you may want to consider re breeding her.

Often times, the first heat cycle of the season is a practice cycle. The doe may come in once again in about 7-10 days. This should not be a concern for the first cycle of the year, but if it continues throughout the season, you may want to have her tested for cystic ovaries.

She will begin to vocalize (some of the does are relatively quiet some holler like they have been hit by a car), she will get as near to the buck area as she can, and flag her tail. Her vulva will get puffy and she may or may not have a slight white discharge. If you do not see the discharge, you may still see where it transferred to her under tail where the skin may have some dried matter on it.

Typical signs of a Doe in Estrus:

 Much of this happens at night when the temperature cools down.

  • Decrease in appetite.
  • Tail Flagging.
  • May mount other does.
  • Starting arguments with other does.
  • Ignoring yearling kids.
  • She may develop a "crush" on another doe, acting more like a buck than a doe.
  • Vulva gets pink, swollen and may or may not have a discharge.
  • Holds her tail to the side more than straight up when a buck approaches.
  • Hollering for no apparent reason.







The Actual Breeding Goat

This is the time Everyone has been waiting so impatiently for!
You have decided which buck to breed to which doe. You have your calendar in front of you so you know when your kidding dates will happen. Everyone concerned is in tip-top condition.

What to expect:

  • The buck will approach the doe when first placed with in with her.
  • He will paw at her, paw the ground and make some really guttural vocalizations.
  • He will pee on his face and curl his lip up in the air as he holds his head upwards.
  • His penis will extend out of the sheath and he will spray his front legs and face (and you if you are in the way).
  • He will saddle up to the doe and rub his face on her face, shoulders, back and butt.
  • If the doe is not quite ready she may run from him.
  • If she is ready she will return the favors by rubbing on him and squatting to pee for him. (This shows him she has chosen him for her buck, she may or may not be quite ready to stand for him at this point.)
  • The buck will stick his face under the stream of urine and then raise his head and curl his lip.
  • The buck will also flap his tongue at her and this can look really silly but please don't laugh at him. He takes this quite seriously and you would not want to break his spirit or make him feel stupid.
  • If both are ready, he will mount her - sometimes while she stands still and sometimes on the move.
  • He will throw his head back as he ejaculates and then dismount her. IF she has been successfully bred, she will crunch up (much like a dog who is defecating) and hold this position for a moment. (This is because the penis actually goes into her far enough to touch the cervix and this gives her a small cramp.)
  • After a successful breeding he may or may not act "romantic" toward her. He may want to re-breed her.

Staggering your Dairy Goat Breeding:

If you figure out when you want your first kids to hit the ground, and then stagger your breeding accordingly for does to kid over a period of 3-4 months, there is no reason you cannot supply your family with year round milk.  

Say you breed some of your does in early September, Kids from this breeding session will be hitting the ground in Late January or Early February. The kids will nurse for at least 3 months.
The does should lactate (produce milk) for 10 months. Milk production fluctuates during the entire lactation period, peaking in approximately the 3rd month of lactation. Ideally these does will produce milk until sometime in November. You will want to allow them a drying off period of  at least 2 months before you rebreed them . This would mean re breeding them in January, giving you May kids and a 10 month lactation period lasting until the following March.

Just because they can hold a 10 month lactation period, doesn't mean they need to. If you would like to dry them off before the 10 month period is up for a more convenient kidding  season, this can be done easily.  

If you breed some of your does in September, some in October, November and possibly December; your kidding season will extend from Late January until Early May and the milk supply should last you just about year round.

How We do it Here

As a rule of thumb I always allow the doe and buck to breed at least  3 successful times during a session to make sure she is bred. This means 3 mountings, three times he has thrown his head back and three times she has crunched. After they have spent a bit of post-courtship, I return the buck back to his pen.

I personally have a buck pen with 14 mature bucks housed together. I see no reason to keep a single buck alone, as they get lonely too. If you only have one buck, placing at least one wether in with him for company is always a good idea. When he returns to his pen, the others WILL smell the breeding and will more than likely torment him some. They may mount him, chase him or head butt with him. Keep an eye on him to make sure he isn't being beat up too badly for the first 24 hours after a breeding session. As you could well imagine, they are jealous that he got to breed and they did not.

I personally use the standing breeding method. I decide which buck to use for which doe, I place a collar on him and a lead rope and remove him from the buck pen and take him to the doe I have already removed from the doe pen to a neutral area - preferably out of vision from either yard. I place them together and watch. If I were to leave the area, I would not know for absolute that they had bred. I make sure he actually enters the doe when he mounts her (sometimes they miss). I watch for doe crunches. If there is a particular breeding I would like to have happen and there is a size difference with the doe being taller than the buck, I will guide them to a place where he can stand on a hill or uphill from her so he can reach her successfully. I don't breed a buck to a doe who is considerably  smaller than he is - I fear an injured back during breeding  and too large of kids during kidding. After they have bred, I do offer both of them a treat and some electrolytes in the water. They do use a lot of energy breeding , even if it doesn't seem like it takes very long (time wise).

A successful breeding will bring about a quiet lifestyle. Once all of  the does are  bred and they have "settled" meaning they are bred and beginning the process of growing fetuses, the bucks will settle down and spend the rest of the cooler months in quiet mode. The does will also settle and begin to act "normally" again.  If peace and quiet is important to you.. get everyone bred the first cycle or two of the season. BUT I warn you..  January and February can be quite cold. SO you will be having babies hit the ground in possibly the coldest months of the year.. which is another article completely!

FYI: The lip the bucks make is called the Flehman Response. Does also make this lip when they check the young kid's urine. The goats are able to smell certain hormones in the urine when they use this response. It makes sense that they are checking the urine for health on their kids.

 Flehman Response

There you have it... Goat Breeding Season.. in 5 long months you will have kids hitting the ground healthy and beautiful!


Last Updated ( Sunday, 18 January 2009 )