Unless you are keeping goats as strictly pets eventually there will come a day when you find yourself breeding goats. Breeding goats is a necessity if you are keeping them for milk or meat. Before you breed your goats, you will need, at minimum, access to a buck and a doe in heat!
My first time breeding my goats I had a hard time recognizing when they were in heat. That makes scheduling a breeding much more complicated! Hopefully your goats will all be in raging heat and take the first time around! Then you can get to the BEST part of raising goats, all the cute little goat babies!
When to Breed Your Goat
Most goat breeds go into heat several times from September through February. The bucks go into rut around that time as well. Other goat owners will be breeding their goats at the same time, (which has it’s bonuses and drawbacks). It does make finding a good stud easier if you hire one instead of keeping your own. Nigerian Dwarf goats are unique in that they go into heat roughly every 21 days throughout the entire year. Nigerian dwarf bucks are in rut year round as well. Just the presence of a buck can induce heat in the does 7-10 days after they are exposed to the buck. This means the first breeding didn’t take, but that you have a second chance for a successful breeding.
Signs Of Heat
There are several common and easy to spot signs that your goat is in heat. These include excessive tail wagging, bleating, mounting other goats, or allowing herself to be mounted. Other signs include a bit of discharge causing matting in the tail, a pink or red vulva, and increased urination. Your doe may desperately try to get to the buck if there is one nearby. She may also be unusually uneasy OR abnormally affectionate (depends on the goat).
If your goat doesn’t show any of these signs, it’s a silent heat, (which is SO frustrating). If that’s the case, she might respond to a buck rag. To get a buck rag rub a rag all over a buck until it’s nice and stinky, then keep it in tightly sealed container. Open it near the goat when you suspect she may be in heat. If she shows interest, she probably is.
Of course to breed your goats you will need a buck. Keeping your own buck has it’s advantages and disadvantages. In my urban farming situation I do not have the space for separate housing. I also doubt my neighbors would appreciate the smell. This means that I need to hire a stud goat to either come to me or to bring my girls to. The first time I bred the goats we had a buck come and visit our small urban farm for a month. I liked having him visit, but it did smell rather buck-y by the end of the month.
The second time I bred on of my girls she was obviously in heat, so we drove out to a buck not too far away just for the evening. The actual breeding took only a few minutes and then she came home. There is also the option of taking your does to the stud to stay for a couple weeks. I have fantasies of doing that and breeding the goats and taking a vacation all at the same time. Try it and let me know how it works out. 😉
Where To Find a Buck
In our area finding a buck isn’t difficult if you are willing to drive to leave the city and go into the surrounding countryside. I have had good luck on Craigslist and talking to other people who keep goats. One consideration before selecting a buck is CAE, or caprine arthritic encephalitis, which is a virus transmitted by bodily fluids. Test your goats before breeding and only breed them to a CAE negative buck in order to prevent transmission.
You can get your goats tested through BioTracking. I hired a more experience goat keeper to get the blood sample and then mailed it in. But you can do it yourself if you prefer. You can get the tubes and syringes off Amazon, but you may need to order needles from a medical supply company. We have a feed store nearby that carries them, or you can try buying a few from your veterinarian. If you drop your doe off at a high quality stud goat you will almost for sure be asked to provide documentation of CAE negative status.
Breeding goats is very involved, especially if you are aiming to improve the breed, production, correct faults in your herd, or raise goats for meat. This post barely scratches the surface of all the considerations so feel free to look through the more in depth links below!
Successfully Breeding Goats from University of Florida
Be prepared for your first flock
With a step by step checklist to walk you through.