Today, more people than ever before are deciding to keep a few goats in the backyard and eventually thinking about becoming goat breeders. Some people raise goats for the meat or milk, while others think it would be exciting to make yarn from a goat’s long coat. Some people think goats should replace their lawnmowers and keep goats for pets and for their natural tendency to eat any and all grass and weeds they can find.
Goat breeders need to know all of the basics about does, how to recognize when they are in heat, and how to prepare for the goat’s pregnancy. Often, goats go into heat seasonally in the fall, although in warm climates a goat could go into heat any month of the year. A goat normally has one kid but twins are not out of the question.
In the fall, a goat will go into heat several times. If she is less than one year old and does not weigh 75-80 pounds, you should not breed her. As with other animals, her body has to be mature enough to carry the pregnancy to full term. The gestation period for goats is 150 days. That means that she will bear the kid in the spring.
Make sure that your goat or goats are not only old enough but also in excellent physical condition when you breed them. Many times, the doe will need to have some pre-pregnancy vaccinations to protect her from diseases. When she is coming into heat, you will start to notice some changes in your goat’s behavior. She may start flagging, which means wagging her tail. She will probably be very vocal with her calling and start trying to mount other goats and especially bucks, if you have them.
Not all people who raise goats like to keep bucks in their herds. Male goats can be more aggressive and they give off more of an odor. You can bring in a buck to mate with your females when they are in heat. Bucks are seasonal too and like does, usually are ready for breeding September through December. A female will go into heat every 18-21 days during this time period. Being in heat can last anywhere from a few hours to a few days.
Artificial insemination is another alternative to having to deal with bucks of your own. This is a very viable option used by a great many goat breeders. Whether you use artificial insemination or a buck you will not be able to tell with certainty right away when a goat is pregnant. You cannot tell if a doe is pregnant by looking at her. The best way is an ultrasound, which can be done at 45 days. Blood tests can also be done to determine pregnancy.
Goat breeders have many reasons for bringing kids (baby goats) into the world. Some want to grow a herd for milk or meat. Others want to breed goats whose coats can be used for fiber production. Some goat breeders raise purebreds specifically for showing and breeding. If you have a pet goat, there is really no reason to breed her. There are many goats every day brought into shelters for large animals because they no longer have anyone to care for them. Adopting any of these may save their lives and give you a wonderful pet.