Goats are extremely friendly and affectionate creatures that make great pets as long as you opt for a low-cost goat shed to prevent them from jumping their way to freedom.
However, if you want to start a small farm and enjoy all the delicious and organic foods your animals can provide, you need to learn more about their breeding process and how to keep them on your property with good-quality goat fencing. But first, let’s start with the basics.
Goats are one of the first domesticated animals and have been around humans for around 10,000 years. For those of you who are interested in the religious side of the goat history, you should know that these animals were marked as safe for consumption in the New Testament, with few restrictions or interdictions.
Ever since the earliest times, humans used all parts of the animals for personal consumption or making various tools and objects. Apart from their milk rich in nutrients, goat meat represents a healthy and low-fat source of proteins which can be consumed year-round.
In addition, their skin was used in the manufacturing of clothing and shoes, while their bones were turned into building and fighting tools by our ancestors.
Although our building techniques have evolved throughout the centuries, goats remain one of the most common animals kept around humans for food. However, in order for goats to produce their delicious milk and for us to turn it into cheese, butter, and other dairy products, animals need to reproduce.
Learning everything you can about goat breeding is essential if you want to run a profitable business in the farming field. Proper knowledge will tell you which breeds are better for their meat and milk, how to breed strong individuals, and how to naturally increase the goats in your herd.
Female goats are also called does and theoretically should weigh at least 80 pounds before breeding, according to professional breeders. However, the weight can vary depending on the goat breed and each individual.
Therefore, when we’re talking about goat breeding, it’s not as much about the age, but about the weight. Generally speaking, does will reach the necessary weight around the age of eight months, although some people prefer to wait up until one and a half years before breeding them for the first time.
Female goats go into heat every three weeks or 21 days, with a fertility window of 1-3 days. Most does are seasonal breeders, starting from early fall until mid-winter or from August to January.
However, some other goat species like the Spanish, Nigerians, Pygmies or Boers can breed year-long, which makes them more suitable for those who are looking to increase their farm profits rapidly.
The gestation period for does is around 150 days or five months and, unlike other animals, they don’t have an actual menopause time. Therefore, they can breed throughout their lifetime, which is usually around 10-12 years. However, you should keep a close eye on potential fertility and pregnancy complications once your goat gets older.
These beautiful and smart animals can give birth to between one and five kids at a time, with an average of 2-3, meaning most of them are twins or triplets. If you plan on mating goats for a living and making your own farm, you should know that most people prefer breeding their animals once a year to maintain the milk supply.
Although you can milk a doe while she is pregnant, we would recommend leaving at least two months of rest before delivery so that her body can properly rest, readjust, and prepare for the next litter.
Also known as bucks or billies, males become fertile and ready to mate when they’re around seven weeks old, much faster than females. We do not recommend to start breeding at such an early age but this is certainly a possibility, so you should remove the male goats from their mothers or sisters at that age to prevent accidents.
As with all other animal species, males have it easier since they don’t have to get through the pregnancy and the delivery process. In other words, they are ready to “mingle” all day long, from adolescence to the latest stages of their lives.
However, this doesn’t mean that bucks mate all the time. They do it solely for procreation purposes and they will only breed when they sense a female is in heat. They might also refuse to do so when the temperatures outside are freezing, so you’ll most likely have to wait for a few months.
Another interesting process counts for the fact that males start feeling the need to mate a long time before the does are ready and their hormone level increases. Sometimes, just by going through this process, they will determine female goats to go into heat and start mating.
As with all other animals, goats too base their mating rituals on a high level of hormones which is usually translated through special smells that attract the opposite sex.
During the rut, bucks will do everything they can to show their dominance and will resort to all sorts of tricks to impress their partners. This includes spitting, snorting, and even urinating on themselves to make themselves more appealing to the does.
There are various signs that show a female is ready to mount as well. These include wagging the tail or yelling for no apparent reason.
How to tell if a doe is pregnant
The actual breeding process is quick and often occurs during the night, so it’s hard to tell for sure whether or not your pair of goats are ready to become parents unless you watch them all the time.
And, to make things even harder to spot, goats have large bellies by default, so it’s quite hard to spot a pregnancy, even in later stages. If you want to make sure you are expanding your family, you’ll have to wait around 30 days for an ultrasound test to know for sure. Most does don’t show signs until around 80 days, so you need to be patient.