The most important aspect of the breeding process is knowing when it is the right time to breed your goats as well as being able to detect the right time to do it. That is, when they are ready or mature to be bred if they are first time breeders, how to detect when they are in heat and rut, when ovulation occurs in does and lastly how many services a buck should be allowed to perform in the first year of starting mating.
1. First time breeders
When it comes to determining the right time to breed young goats, there is really no definite set time as it depends on the type of breed as well as their growth rate and gender.
- With bucks, they averagely mature sexually after 4-6 months but should not be used for mating before 8 months old.
- A young buck should not service too many does to prevent exhaustion and reduction off sperm quality and quantity.
- It should be healthy and not too fat because this decreases rutting desire and the quality of sperms will be poor.
- Careful examination of both testicles checking if they have descended from the scrotal sac should be done. If one or both are retained in the abdomen, then sperm production will be reduced or there will be none at all.
- If a buck has both male and female characteristics, it should not be used for breeding.
- Young bucks should only be allowed to service 10-12 does in the first year of starting mating.
- Within 2 years, only 30 does should be served.
- After this period, 50 -100 does a year.
- It’s best to separate it from does but do not allow it to be lonely. House him with a dry doe for companionship. The goats should be allowed to mix once a year, preferably when the weather is warmer and grazing is adequate. This ensures survival of the kids.
- Does mature later on and are usually ready to be serviced at 12 months of age so that they can kid for the first time at 18 months. As stated before early maturity is related to growth rate, feeding and genetics.
- They are usually ready when they have reached ¾ of their normal mature weight. Good care and feeding will ensure that the dam attains the expected weight.
- Look at the size of the breed. Do not service growing goats so that they do not divide their energy between growth and the development of the fetus. The latter will be expelled if the dam cannot sustain it.
2. Recognizing Heat in Breeding Goats (females)
The onset of fertility in does appears early in life, sometimes as soon as two months of age. Normally, goat fertility begins between four to six months old. The range occurs because goats breed seasonally in the fall. To ensure an optimal outcome, does should not be allowed to breed until they are at least twelve months old.
- Every 20 days or so, does will enter into estrus, or heat during the breeding season. Adult does display distinctive signs at this time, though the display is not as obvious in kids.
- During estrus, the doe will display vigorous tail wagging, the vulva will swell and redden, her normal short bleats will develop into longer cries, she may mount other goats and allow herself to be mounted and she may fight with other goats.
- She will also begin to parade in front of the males and rub up against their fence. A decrease in milk production may be noticed due to an increase in activity and less interest in feeding.
- At the onset of estrus, the doe will emit a thin, clear vaginal discharge which whitens toward the end of the period. The duration of heat ranges from 12 to 48 hours.
- Approximately 24 hours into the time frame, the doe will begin standing heat which means she stands firmly allowing bucks to mount her.
- Ovulation happens anywhere from 12 to 36 hours from the beginning of standing heat. Therefore mating is best arranged at this time.
- Since time of mating can affect the number of kids born, double mating-the second service following 24 hours after the first is usually recommended.
3. Determining Rut in Breeding Goats (males)
Male goats known as bucks present with specific behavior during mating season. The behavior characteristic to breeding readiness is referred to as rut.
- During rut, bucks emit an unpleasant odor resulting from the animal urinating into his own mouth and spreading the urine on his beard, chest and face.
- The urine causes yellowing of the hair and can also burn the hair completely off the skin. An odor is also emitted from scent glands located near the buck’s horns.
- Both scents are attractive to does. The males exhibit distinctive facial gestures at this time by curling the upper lip. They also grunt, blubber and snort.
- Activity levels are greatly increased while they fight and mount each other and can engaging in breeding up to 20 times a day during rut.
Dietary increase may be necessary due to the extra exertion. Beet pulp, leafy branches and grain are good dietary additives during rut.
4. Mating Conditions
When the presence of estrus is determined in a doe, she may be placed in together with a buck. The sexual activity lasts for a few seconds. The pair should be allowed to mate two or three times during a session to ensure fertilization. Success is usually determined when the doe fails to enter again into estrus. On occasion, a doe will refuse to mate with a specific buck. Also, some older bucks fail to show interest in younger does.
5. Further information about does
- The gestation period (time it takes from conception to birth of a kid) of a goat is 145-148 days.it is vital to feed does well prior to the breeding season and throughout the gestation period to ensure normal growth and subsequent vitality of the new born.
- Synchronize estrus either naturally by separating the males from females or using prostaglandins so that the kids are kid at the same time during warmer months.
- Does can be serviced again in 1-2 months’ time after giving birth. Meat breeds have a shorter kidding interval than dairy breeds.
- A good doe can crop (kid) twice in 2 years, and may continue to do so over the years. But bear in mind that two crops imposes a lot of stress on the dam.
- Twinning is common in goats and seems to increase with age. Flushing the doe before mating has been known to increase chances of twinning or having triplets as a result of multiple ovulations. Also the survival of the kid in the first weeks of life is guaranteed.
- The maximum longevity of productivity in goats ranges between 5-6 years depending on the nutritional status of the goats.
A healthy goat population can be achieved by following a few important guidelines. Observation of animal health and implementation of good breeding practices helps to ensure a sturdy and productive herd. Hope this information makes the process a lot easier and enjoyable. Happy breeding!
- Onzima R., Aheisibwe A. R., Katali B. K., Kanis E., & van Arendonk J. A. M. (2014, August). Economic Analysis of Cross Breeding Programs for Indigenous Goat Breeds in Uganda. In 10th World Congress on Genetics Applied to Livestock Production. Asas.