Breeding Goats

           There are three major milestones that beginner milk goat keepers become worried about. Those three are breeding, kidding, and milking. All three are confusing at first.

            You basically have two options about bucks: keeping one yourself or taking your doe to someone that does. The first year I had my does, I took them to be bred. That wasn’t easy. I wasn’t sure how to know my does were in heat and I had to transport them. Then there is also the price. Some breeders charge by the day and some charge for the service. Some will only keep the doe for an hour while other will work with you and keep her for the month. If you have a doe that is in milk, you don’t have the option of letting her stay at the breeder’s for a month. In my case, the breeder kept both does for a month and neither one kidded.

            The second option is to keep the buck yourself. Of course there are problems here too. You have to feed the buck, but if you have several does, the cost of feeding him may be less than what it would cost to breed your does. Bucks smell bad too. They have scent glands on their heads, but the fact that they pee on themselves is what makes them smell the worst. Basically, a buck will smell bad for the entire breeding season (late August to late December). Personally I think this is the better option. Keeping a buck on the property seems way easier than trying to take both does to a breeder.

            First timers generally want to know when the doe will kid so they can see the birth. If the doe is already in milk, she will need a two month rest from producing milk before kidding. Otherwise her system will be overloaded and the kids might not make it.

So you will want to keep the buck and does separate for a little while during the breeding season. Because I have two does and I want to milk year round. I am planning on breeding one next month (October) and the second one in December. I could breed them earlier in the breeding season, but I didn’t want any kids born in the winter. A goat takes five months to develop in the womb. So if the doe is bred in September, she will kid in February.

            This is what I recommend: Watch the doe for signs of heat. Write down on the calendar when her next projected heat will be. This will be 17-23 days away, but for most does it is 19. Keep a close watch on her when the projected date is near. If she goes into heat again, congratulations! Keep a record of her heat cycle. When the month comes that you want her to be bred in, place the buck and does together. You can put them together for the entire month, or for the few days the doe is in heat. Either way works. The former will guarantee the doe is bred, but the latter might give you a more definite due date. If you decide to place the doe and buck together for the month, count five months from the projected heat day(s) and there is your approximate due date! After the month is over, you can separate the buck and doe or keep them together. Keeping them together will even more assure that the doe will kid the next year, for if he doesn’t get her that month, he will the next.

            So here is an example. Buck and Doe are separated on August 1st. Doe shows signs of heat on August 24th. Her next projected heat will be September 12th. If she goes into heat on September 15th, her next projected heat will be October 4th. Let’s say Doe’s owner doesn’t want her to kid until late March. Doe will then need to be bred in late October. On October 7th, doe is back into heat. Notice that both heats have been 22 days apart, not nineteen. Doe’s owner adjusts the time between the cycles. Doe’s next projected heat will be October 28th. On October 24th, Doe is placed with Buck and stays with him for the rest until the next breeding season. Doe’s approximate due date is five months from October 28th. That would be March 28th. Let’s say that Doe is producing milk. In that case, she will need a two month rest to focus on developing the kids. If her approximate due date is March 28th, then she needs to be dried up approximately January 28th.