Raising goats is quickly gaining popularity and it’s no wonder. If you want 100% organic milk and do not have the room for a dairy cow, then having a dairy goat is the next best (or even better) option. This post will help you get starting with Goat breeding 101 so you can keep that wonderful milk flowing all year long.
Disclaimer: In accordance with FDA guidelines, the information and products offered on this website are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. I am not a medical professional. Before administering any medications to your animals please contact a veterinarian first.
Why do I need to breed my goats?
If you have dairy goats because you love the milk then heads up my friend, breeding is now officially on your homesteading to-do list.
Yes, you must breed your dairy goats in order to keep the milk flowing.
Now, don’t panic…you can do this. I am, after all, a “Goat Newbie Expert”. (And yes I did just make that up.) But I feel like I have been learning how to raise goats twice as long as I have actually been raising them. So, if you are new and you have questions…you have come to the right place.
Dairy Goat Breeding: A Few Facts
Before we dive in, let’s quickly go over a few terms.
- Buck – A full-grown male goat.
- Buckling – A baby male goat.
- Doe – A full-grown female goat.
- Doeling – A baby female goat.
- Rut – A period when your buck is ready and willing to breed.
- Heat – A period when a doe is ready and willing to breed.
- Kidding – The act of giving birth.
Goat Breeding Fact #1
Most goat breeds are actually seasonal breeders. What that means is they are in heat seasonally every fall/winter. This can range anywhere from July/August to about January/February. There are a few breeds that can be bred year-round and if you have them you will want to keep that in mind.
- Nubians (sometimes)
This does not mean, however, that if you do have a goat that is a seasonal breeder then you are safe to house bucks and does together on the offseason. Absolutely and positively not. I have learned this lesson the hard way.
If you have a doe and a buck together anytime throughout the year then you better be prepared for a surprise breeding.
SLCG TIP: If you must house bucks and does together you may want to invest in a buck apron. I have not used these aprons myself but I have heard good things about them. A buck apron is basically a heavy-duty apron that is made out of suede or leather. Similar to a welding waist apron. It is tied at the front underbelly of the buck and acts as a “shield” of sorts preventing penetration between the buck and doe. This is not foolproof, however, because as I said before nothing really is, but it is a nice safety precaution to have set into place on your hobby farm.
Bottom Line: If you do not want a surprise breeding then keep your bucks and does separately housed at all times. This, in my opinion, is the best way to keep surprise breedings from happening.
Bucks can breed a goat starting as early as 7 weeks so it is important to watch the little ones closely. If you do not have a separate area to house your young bucklings you will want to watch your herd closely. I have never had an issue of kid/doe breeding since I raise the large Nubian breed of dairy goat. The young kids simply cannot reach, however, young bucklings can breed too young does and for that reason, you will want to move the bucklings out when they are around 8-12 weeks of age.
You can easily set up a kid pen with your herd by sectioning off a smaller section of the barn using pig steel panels or wooden pallets.
You should wait to breed a doeling until she is at least 8-10 months old or at a size that they can handle the weight of your buck. This is just a good rule of thumb to follow and a good ethical animal raising practice. An uncomplicated pregnancy is always our goal so the best advice to follow is to wait to breed your gals until they are physically ready to handle it.
On our homestead, we like to wait until our does are a year old before we begin goat breeding. Since we raise Nubians the bucks are on the large size and we want to make sure our gals can support his weight.
The actual act of goat breeding only takes just a few seconds and if you blink you may miss it. The first year I tried my hand at breeding I was convinced that none of my 4 does were bred. I never saw my buck “do the deed” so I believed he had failed.
One afternoon I was outside with Hubs working on the barn. I noticed one of my does standing in the corner with her head pressed against the wall. I ran over to her knowing that this is a sign of a goat in labor.
Sure enough, just a few short minutes later she gave birth to a healthy set of twins. And you know what? Like clockwork, the next several days brought, even more, goat kids as the rest of my little herd kidded.
That year I learned that breeding is quick and if you blink you definitely will miss it!
You do not need to own a buck for goat breeding. You can actually rent a buck and set up “dates” either at your home or at the bucks. This is a great option for the brand new goat owner or someone with a small set up.
To find a buck for rent simply contact your local feed mill or check out the want ads and even Facebook or Craiglist for options. The cost to rent a buck will vary depending on location.
Here in Northwestern Pennsylvania, a rental can start anywhere from $30-$75 for the first doe and an addition $10-$15 for every doe thereafter. As with anything you pay for quality. If you want a rockstar buck plan to spend a much higher price.
A doe goes into heat every 21 days and the actual cycle lasts 1-3 days. I highly advise you know the cycle of each of your does. When you only have a window of 3 days to breed, knowing the 21-day mark will make things so much easier for everyone.
Tip: Using a calendar like this one is an easy and inexpensive way to keep track of heats quickly. I like to keep track of all my goat care in this calendar so I can very easily reference things. The easier it is the more likely I am to use it. At the end of the month, I will transfer notes to individual files for each goat.
If you want to know just when your goat will be due to kid, you can enter the breeding date here and get your target due date!!
A buck in rut is a determined buck. If you have bucks on your homestead please make sure they are housed in a secure structure. If a buck is in heat and he wants a doe, only a sturdy fence will keep him in. Take the time to check your fence every few days to make sure nothing is getting loose. An unplanned pregnancy can quickly derail any breeding plan so take the time before rut to make sure things are secure.
Bucks in rut stink my friends. There is simply no better way to say it. They smell pretty intense so keep your bucks away from your milk stand. If it smells your milk will absorb it. Trust me on this. Also, never ever touch a buck in rut without gloves on. That smell can get into your skin and even if you can’t smell it…every other person in the world can. Wear gloves, use soap and you will be fine. 🙂