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What are the Basics of Goat Breeding?

Patti Kate
Patti Kate

The fundamental aspects of goat breeding begin with using healthy animals as breeding stock. A goat breeder should be sure that both the female goat, or doe, and male goat, or buck, are good, healthy candidates for breeding. Animals should eat a good diet, be examined by a veterinarian, and be up to date on vaccinations. Also, a responsible goat breeder should be prepared to monitor the doe and maintain her good health during the five-month pregnancy.

A breeder must recognize when the doe will reach the appropriate breeding age. Generally speaking, a doe of approximately 12 months of age should be prime for breeding. She may typically go into heat in late summer or early fall. If attempting to breed a female goat at a younger age, this could result in complications in pregnancy due to an immature reproductive system and small size. Breeders generally wait until the female goat reaches the minimum weight of 70-80 pounds before attempting a successful mission of goat breeding.

A young kid on a goat farm.
A young kid on a goat farm.

During the autumn months, a doe may go into heat a few times. In warmer climates, goat breeding may occur at any time of the year. During heat, a female goat will be quite vocal, and send out signal calls to a perspective mate. The breeder may also notice the doe flicking her tail around repetitively. She may also become more aggressive or passive, depending upon the individual doe.

An adult male goat.
An adult male goat.

Many breeders may opt to have their female goats thoroughly examined by a veterinarian before breeding season begins. In fact, experts concur this is a recommended procedure. There are many health factors that can determine a positive or negative outcome of goat breeding.

Goats that are intended to be bred need to to maintain a high protein and specially formulated diet. The veterinarian may recommend supplements if necessary. He will also confirm the goat's good health before attempting to breed. Another crucial aspect before attempting to breed pet goats is to ensure that vaccinations are up to date.

Part of responsible goat breeding includes recognizing if the doe is not a good candidate. If she is overweight or has other health issues, it might be in her best interest not to become pregnant. Conversely, if she is underweight, the goat farmer or breeder may wish to ensure the doe gains extra weight before breeding.

In goat breeding, it is essential to also consider the buck to be used for a mate. The breeder must ensure the male is completely free of any health issues, either transmittable or genetic. If obtaining the buck from an outside source, obtaining a health certificate is crucial.

Assuming the doe has become pregnant, the breeder should expect a delivery of one "kid" in approximately five months. After a period of approximately six weeks, an ultrasound can determine the status of a fetus and detect any potential problems. Monitoring the doe during the five gestational months is an essential responsibility.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the ideal age for breeding goats?

Goats reach sexual maturity at different ages, typically between 4 to 12 months. However, it's advisable to breed does (female goats) when they are at least 80% of their adult weight or around 1 to 1.5 years old. This ensures they are physically mature enough to handle pregnancy and childbirth without compromising their growth and health.

How often do goats come into heat, and how can I tell?

Does come into estrus, or heat, every 18-24 days and it lasts for approximately 1-3 days. Signs of heat include increased vocalization, restlessness, tail wagging, decreased appetite, and a swollen, reddened vulva. Mating or artificial insemination should occur during this period for successful conception.

What is the gestation period for goats, and how many kids do they typically have?

The gestation period for goats is approximately 150 days, or roughly 5 months. The number of kids born per pregnancy varies, with twins being the most common outcome. However, first-time mothers often have single births, while older does may have triplets or more, depending on their health and breed.

How do I ensure the health and safety of the doe and kids during breeding and kidding?

Proper nutrition, vaccination, and deworming before breeding are crucial for the doe's health. During kidding, provide a clean, quiet, and comfortable environment. Post-kidding, ensure the kids nurse within the first hour to receive colostrum, which is vital for immunity. Monitor the doe for any signs of distress or complications.

What are the best practices for breeding management in goats?

Best practices include selecting healthy, genetically superior bucks and does for breeding, maintaining accurate breeding records, and implementing a sound health management program. Regular veterinary check-ups, proper nutrition, and controlled breeding seasons help improve kidding rates and the overall health of the herd.

Can I breed goats all year round, or is there a specific breeding season?

While some goat breeds are seasonal breeders, typically mating in the fall, others can breed year-round. Seasonal breeding aligns kidding with spring, when forage is plentiful, aiding in milk production for the kids. Controlled breeding allows for better management of resources and labor throughout the year.

Discussion Comments


@MrsPramm - I don't really think anyone who has never worked on a farm before should start out with a herd of goats. Goats are extremely difficult to manage if you aren't used to them. Goat breeders have to stay one step ahead of their charges, and that means expensive, high quality fencing and constant care.

Keeping dairy goats is very fulfilling and can be quite lucrative in the right place these days, but goats aren't as placid as sheep and cows and sheep and cows aren't even that placid.

If you think you might like to keep goats, I'd start with a little herd of three at the most and see if you can handle those before jumping into having more than that.


@umbra21 - That sounds like it would be a good plan if goats weren't the only income for the land. However, if you're hoping to bring together a good herd of milking goats for income you probably need to just start out with good genes in the first place. The average new farmer isn't going to know how to properly select animals for breeding and they aren't going to want to make a lot of costly mistakes in that area either.


One of the common ways of building up good goat stock and good land together is to start with animals that are used to scrubby land. They will thrive where you put them and if you use them carefully they will clear land for you by eating down all the excess weeds and shrubs. Then use high quality bucks to breed them and gradually work your way towards the herd that you want. This way you don't have to buy the highest quality goats in the first place, and you don't have to waste their qualities by putting them on rough land. Good milking goats should be put on decent grass, but that's not always going to be available to a farmer who is just starting out.

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    • A young kid on a goat farm.
      By: Gerhard Seybert
      A young kid on a goat farm.
    • An adult male goat.
      By: LittleSteven65
      An adult male goat.