BREEDING PREPARATION AND BEHAVIOR
Your buck is the most important goat in your herd. Genetically, he is one half of your herd. If you keep any replacement does out of him, he is genetically three-quarters of your herd. Invest in the best buck that you can afford. Your buck is the foundation of your breeding program.
Breed only well-conditioned -- not over-fed, i.e. fat animals. De-worm and vaccinate all animals prior to breeding. Pastures and pens must be kept clean and uncrowded so that the does and their offspring are healthy. Combining sound management techniques with common sense and quality breeding stock will bring profits to your bottom line.
Breed does only once a year, even if the herd is strictly commercial. It is unreasonable to expect a nursing doe to feed herself, as many as four nursing kids, and growing fetuses inside her. Her productive life will be shortened, her udder will be worn out prematurely, and she will produce inferior kids for which you will receive less money at sale.
Keep all does over three months of age away from bucks - even young bucks of the same age. When the tissue that holds the buckling's penis in the sheath detaches and he can extend his penis out, he is fertile. This can happen as early as two or three months of age. Does can breed as young as three or four months of age (sometimes younger, particularly in the smaller breeds like Pygmy and Nigerian Dwarf), but kidding problems (dystocia) can occur. Think of this in human terms: A 11-year-old female may be able to conceive a child, but it can be a recipe for birthing problems. Similar problems can occur with very young does. They are too young and too small to be bred without complications.
Don't assume that younger, smaller bucks are unlikely to breed sexually-mature does. A doe in heat will accommodate any buck that is near her. The instinct to reproduce is overwhelming. She will do whatever it takes to mate with him. Pygmy bucks have been known to breed Boer does.
Let virgin does have time to grow. Don't breed them until at least twelve months of age. A first-time breeding should be with a buck of her breed or smaller-sized breed. Cattle producers mate heifers (virgin females) to smaller-breed bulls to avoid birthing complications. Give your does the same consideration. It is in your long-term best interest to preserve their reproductive abilities.
Separate breeding pastures or pens by six- to eight-foot-wide alleyways to keep bucks from fighting through and damaging your fencing. Placing does and bucks directly across a common fence can result in unwanted breedings.
Breeding bucks need to be in sound physical condition During mating season, they may lose interest in eating and can easily drop 50 pounds in bodyweight. Provide bucks with quality rations to keep them in good shape. Females do not usually go 'off feed' during breeding, but it is important that their nutritional needs are evaluated prior to breeding. The condition of the doe at breeding time has a big impact on her offspring. Do not get them fat; fat does may not breed at all. If does are already receiving a good level of nutrition, there is no need to "flush" them with extra grain prior to breeding. A doe can short-cycle or have false heats. There are a host of reasons a doe might not breed. The doe's age and general health can also affect her breeding ability. The Articles page on www.tennesseemeatgoats.com contains lots of breeding information that you should read.
A healthy mature buck can breed 40-50 does in two breeding cycles. A yearling buck can usually breed 20-25 does. The female heat cycle is every 21 days, but they are differences among breeds. Some breeds are aseasonal (breed year-round), while others only breed when the daylight begins to shorten. Myotonic is the breed most likely to cycle into heat year around. Breeds containing dairy influence (including Boers and Kikos) tend to be seasonal breeders, showing interest in mating as daylight shortens (late July to late December in the northern hemisphere). Climatic conditions (extreme hot or cold, long periods of daylight or darkness) may produce exceptions to these statements. If breeding isn't happening, don't automatically blame the buck. A buck will not be able to breed does if they haven't come into heat. My goats breed at night, saving their energy to survive the high heat of West Texas. Fall's first cold front will usually bring does into heat on my ranch in West Texas.
A good breeding schedule involves placing a single mature buck with up to 50 does and leaving them together through two heat cycles. Forty-five (45) days in the breeding pen will cover two heat cycles of approximately 21 days each, hopefully assuring that any doe who missed the first cycle will get bred on the second round. Then take the buck back to the buck pasture. Don't be alarmed if a handful of does don't breed. This is not uncommon. Not every doe gets bred every year. Some commercial breeders run multiple bucks with does to make sure all are covered and settled. I don't do this, because raising breeding stock requires that I know who bred whom. I also don't want bucks wasting energy by challenging each other.
Leaving the buck with does for over 60 days can result in a loss of interest in breeding. If this occurs, stimulate the buck's interest by placing a teaser buck with him. A teaser buck is a male who has been vasectomized; he thinks he can breed, his hormones still rage, but he fires 'blanks.' If a teaser buck is not available, put another breeding buck across the fence from your chosen sire to introduce competition and heighten interest, but expect damages to fences.
Sexually-mature bucks establish a pecking order, with the most dominant and usually the oldest buck assuming leadership of the herd. Within a group of sexually-mature does, the same procedure takes place, especially if no buck is present. Herds comprised of both females and males often have a dominant male as leader. Occasionally, a buck and a doe will develop a dislike for each other. It is not unusual for the dominant buck to prevent other bucks from mating with her while he also declines to breed her.
Mating rituals begin early in life. Kids as young as seven (7) days old instinctively mount other kids. A young male will approach doelings, put his nose in the doelings' urine streams, and curl his upper lip to determine if the females are in heat. Doelings will follow the same pattern of behavior as they approach breeding age. Put a newly-weaned buck into an all-boys' pen and watch what happens. The new kid will be harassed and mounted for hours until he fights for his place in the pecking order. (Putting a single goat into the herd is never a good idea; read my article on how to limit stress when moving goats from herd to herd.) When around other does that are in heat and no buck is present, mature does will play the buck's role, perform courting rituals, and mount any doe that is ready to breed.
Competition is the name of the game in the goat world. Beginning at birth, kids fight their siblings for colostrum and then for their mother's milk. When kids begin to eat solid food, they challenge other kids. Moms shove other moms and other moms' kids for the best location at the feed trough or for the most desirable forage/browse. Adult males fight for everything important in their lives -- food, shelter, and breeding rights. In the world of goats, if something isn't worth fighting for, it isn't worth having. The strong survive and flourish; the weak die. This process insures that the best and strongest genetics survive and reproduce the next generation.
Suzanne W. Gasparotto, Onion Creek Ranch, Texas 10/7/17
Important! Please Read This Notice!
All information provided in these articles is based either on personal experience or information provided by others whose treatments and practices have been discussed fully with a vet for accuracy and effectiveness before passing them on to readers.
In all cases, it is your responsibility to obtain veterinary services and advice before using any of the information provided in these articles. Suzanne Gasparotto is not a veterinarian.Neither tennesseemeatgoats.com nor any of the contributors to this website will be held responsible for the use of any information contained herein.
The author, Suzanne Gasparotto, hereby grants to local goat publications and club newsletters, permission to reprint articles published on the Onion Creek Ranch website under these conditions: THE ARTICLE MUST BE REPRODUCED IN ITS ENTIRETY AND THE AUTHOR'S NAME, ADDRESS, AND CONTACT INFORMATION MUST BE INCLUDED AT THE BEGINNING OF THE REPRINT. We would appreciate notification from any clubs or publications when the articles are used. (A copy of the newsletter or publication would also be a welcome addition to our growing library of goat related information!)
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