How to breed dairy goats

It’s that time of year; the leaves are falling, the garlic’s about to be planted, and goats are going into heat.

Most does (proper term for female goats) have about a two-day fertile period every few weeks from September – December. In other words, they have two fertile days, then three weeks off, and repeat that for several months. It can be difficult to be sure when’s the right time; in general, does in heat will “talk” more and tend to elevate and wag their tails. We noticed Drama Queen was doing all of this yesterday afternoon, and decided to test her.

How do you do that? With what’s called a “buck rag” – an old rag that’s been rubbed over the extremely fragrant body of an uncastrated male goat. I brought out the buck rag (kept carefully sealed inside a plastic container) yesterday, and Drama Queen got very excited, wagging her tail and trying to eat the container. Aberdeen seemed interested too, but less so.

Koko may have been interested, but for various reasons we’re unlikely to ever breed her.

Our good friend and goat-breeding expert from down the road came by with Valcor, a carefully selected male. We are unlikely to keep any intact males around ourselves; they are the source of that infamous “goat smell”, which largely comes from their habit of constantly urinating on themselves. They’re also bigger, fence-jumpier, and will attempt to breed with pretty much any female regardless of age or close relation.

Now we get to the how to part. It’s very complicated: put the male goat in with the females.

Here’s an instructional video:

5 thoughts on “How to breed dairy goats”

  1. Hilary

    You goat pimp. Did he cover both of the girls? When will you know if they are pregnant? And how long is goat gestation? Oh gods baby goats are so cute, you are never going to want to leave that corral.

  2. Peter

    Lucky Valcor indeed!

    He covered both mini-Obers at least 3 times each (oh to be young again!), though he was a little lazy and had trouble with Aberdeen, as she’s a bit taller than he is.

    It’s difficult to tell when goats are pregnant, but in a couple of weeks we can try to determine whether they’re in heat again, which would mean a ‘miss’.

    I can’t wait for baby goats! Boing boing boing boing boing!

  3. lucien

    i am looking for a way to breed dairy goats off season. this will enable me to have goat milk for the entire year. do you have any ideas?

  4. Peter Post Author

    Many does will give milk for a year or more after giving birth, though quantity will eventually decline, and you want to keep a close eye on their condition as it takes a lot of energy to produce milk.

    You can also space out breeding; our goats go into heat starting as soon as September and sometimes continuing as late as February, on 3-week cycles, so we could have the first doe kidding in February and the last one in July. That way we could theoretically breed just 2 each year and have a fairly even supply, but we tend to breed for late winter/early spring births.

    Our girls are part Nigerian Dwarf, a breed known for going into heat year-round, so I imagine most breeds have a shorter timeframe for their heats. You could go with full Nigerians and breed them during whichever heat seems convenient. They give very rich milk, but they’re small, so there’s less per goat and milking can be a little harder on the hands.

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