Are you ready to breed your goats? Learn all you need to know about breeding goats to help you keep your goats healthy and breed successfully!
On our farm we have chickens, ducks, goats and a cow. Hands-down the chickens are a favorite of the kids, but the goats are my soft-spot. I love their personalities and all their little stubborn quirks.
Around August each year-when summer is starting to wind down and fall is in sight- things start to get a little interesting in the goat pasture. The does start coming into heat and the bucks go into rut and we start keeping an extra special eye on them so that we don’t have any surprises come winter and spring.
Goats will breed easily and readily if left alone, but here are some of the most important things to be aware of when it comes to breeding goats.
The Ultimate Guide to Breeding Goats
When you’re just beginning to raise and breed goats it can feel a little overwhelming. But just remember breeding goats is a natural thing, so all you need is a little information and knowledge to help you breed your goats at just the right time for you and your farm.
Here are some answers to the top goat breeding questions to help you better understand how to breed goats.
When Is Goat Breeding Season
There are 2 types of goats when it comes to breeding. Seasonal and Year round. Most dairy goats are seasonal breeders.
When it comes to goat breeding one of the first things you need to know is which type of goat you have.
Most “Alpine” breeds of goat will only breed during their breeding season. This is usually between the months of August and December. These breeds include most of your large dairy goats such as LaMancha, Saanen, Alpine, Oberhasli and Nubians.
Sometimes Nubians can be forced into year-round breeding, but that is unpredictable. Your miniature breeds such as Pygmy and Nigerian Dwarf, as well as meat breeds, like Boer, will breed year round.
When you are planning for your kids and milking, keep in mind this goat breeding season time restraint.
How Old/Big Should a Goat Be Before Breeding
When it comes to breeding, it’s not so much age as it is size. Most of your standard sized dairy goats will need to make the weight of about 80 lbs before they are bred. A healthy, well-fed doe should make this weight by about 8 months. Some people like to wait until they are about 1 1/2 years old before breeding, but it isn’t necessary if the goat is over 80 lbs.
I have seen no reduction in growth between breeding 8 month old does and 1 1/2 year old goats.
Nubians particularly are known for being a little on the slower size when it comes to growth. We often have does that don’t make weight in their first year, so they aren’t bred until they are closer to 1 1/2 year old.
Be sure you have a reliable way to weigh your goats to make sure they are a good weight before breeding. We don’t have a livestock scale and for years we’ve made do with our bathroom scale. My husband just weighed himself and then picks up the goat and weighs himself again. A goat weigh tape is another good option that is very accurate- and is actually on my list of must haves for goat owners.
Start keeping an eye on weight in August so that you can give additional nutritional support to any does that need it so that they can make weight before the season ends.
Note: If you are breeding Nigerian Dwarf goats, or other miniature breeds, they will obviously have a lower weight to reach before breeding. For example, Nigerian Dwarfs should be about 40 lbs before breeding.
Related Reading: 10 Medications No Goat Owner Should Be Without
How Often Do Goats Go Into Heat?
A doe’s heat cycle is every 18-21 days
A goat buck will be it rut almost 100% of time throughout the entire breeding season.
Starting in August your doe should start coming into heat every 18-21 days. Depending on the doe, she will stay in heat anywhere from a few hours to a couple days.
How do you know your goat is in hear? Here are some signs to look for:
- Tail flagging
- Clumped/Wet hair on the side of her tail
- Mucous discharge
- Swollen rear end
- Yelling (more than usual)
- Most obviously- interest in your buck or a “buck rag”
If you have a buck on site, you should be able to easily tell when your does are in heat. On our farm if the doe is not in heat, she hates the buck and runs away from his advances. If she’s in heat, she is the one making the advances and will stand for anything the buck does.
How to Breed Goats: Dating vs Living in
When it comes to the actual breeding process you have a couple choices. You can take your doe and buck on “dates” or you can house them in the same pasture for a set period. There are pros and cons to both sides, but some things to consider are:
- Dates will give you much more control over the due dates and assurance that the deed did get done
- Sharing a pasture will reduce the risk that you miss the breeding window by not seeing the signs of heat soon enough
- Some does won’t stand for a buck without help. In this instance, taking her on a lead to the buck will force the breeding to occur
- I’ve had a doe that showed ZERO signs of heat- unless the buck was present. By pasturing them together I could ensure that she was bred.
What is the Gestation Period for a Goat?
When you are planning your breeding keep in mind that the gestation period is 145-155 days. The average is 150 days or about 5 months, for your standard sized breeds. If you live in a cold climate with harsh winters you probably will not want your kids being born in a snowy and cold January- which means don’t breed your doe in August!
I like my kids all born sort of close so that they grow up together and in case of a single birth the lonely kid will have other kids to play and sleep with, so I don’t stagger my breedings very much. But many people prefer to stagger so they have a good supply of milk all year long.
When you notice your doe in heat, write it down in your goat management binder, then calculate the possible due date and jot that down as well (Here is the link to a goat due date calculator). As long as she doesn’t come into heat again, you can use this approximate due date to plan her prenatal care.
Related: 9 Signs Your Goat is In Labor- Or Will Be Soon
Do You Need to Own a Buck?
If you have just one or 2 goats you may opt not to keep a buck on hand. But if you plan on breeding many does or there is not a suitable stud to rent in the area you will most likely end up with a buck on the premises.
And here’s the thing about bucks- or at least a buck in rut- They stink. Let me say that again: Bucks STINK! Seriously. Young bucks aren’t so bad, but the smell ripens with age.
Once breeding season hits and your does go into heat and your buck goes into rut they will start some rather amusing, and unsavory, behavior. Such as:
- Urinating. I know, that doesn’t sound so bad. But they pee on their faces, on the back of their legs, in their mouth….It’s rather amazing the reach they can achieve. Eventually their faces and legs will be covered. Good thing that the does find this irresistible.
- Blubbering, tongue flapping and lip raising. All these behaviors happen towards the does. Very amusing to watch his mating rituals!
- Aggression. Bucks will be more aggressive when they are in rut. If you have more than one buck take special care when there are does around so that they don’t end up fighting. Also never turn your back on a buck in rut- even one you may have raised from a bottle. Even if they are not meaning to they can potentially hurt you- especially if they decide to “practice” on you
I find our bucks some of the sweetest of our goats. But when they are in rut, I feed them last and have a special coat I wear over my clothes to help minimize the smell contamination.
Related Reading: Raising Bucks in Rut
How to Care for Goats During Breeding Season
During breeding seasons your goats will need extra nutrition to support the stresses on their bodies. Heat, rut, and pregnancy takes its toll on their bodies, so be sure to support them with extra grain, high quality hay and lots of forage.
Your bucks in rut and your does will need about 1 lb of grain a day. I give hay depending on the amount of forage- if it is rich and plentiful, I do not give much hay. If they are on a dry lot or small pasture, they will need more supplemental hay. I also add black oil sunflower seeds to all of our goat’s feed.
In addition to their grain and hay, goat breeding season is also a good time to make sure they are not deficient in any vitamins and minerals. We keep loose minerals out free choice for our goats, but if you live in an area that has deficient soil you may also have to give the following supplements:
- Copper– prevents kids being born with copper deficiency and gives your goats a stronger appetite and a healthier growth rate
- Selenium/Vitamin E– this prevents white muscle disease in kids and can increase fertility. Learn more about BoSe and how to give it to your goats.
- Nutridrench– All-purpose vitamin for any goat that may need a little extra nutrition
You should also keep a close eye on your goat’s health during breeding season. Keep an eye out for things like anemia or parasites so you can deal with the situation and make sure your goats are in the best shape to support a pregnancy.
If you need help keeping track of all of this, check out my Busy Homesteader’s Goat Management Binder! It has a Breeding and Pregnancy Checklist, a Newborn Checklist and to-do lists to make sure you don’t forget anything!
Line Breeding vs. Inbreeding
When it comes to breeding, you want to make sure your keep a variety of genetics in your herd. There’s a saying something along the lines of: It’s called line-breeding if it works, in-breeding if it doesn’t. And that pretty much sums up the topic in a very simple way.
The buck is actually a very important part of the breeding process. He is the easiest way to add in good genetic traits to your herd. When it comes to line-breeding there is no set rules such as breeding daughter and grandfather, except never breed full brothers and sisters. Mother bred to son isn’t usually a great ideas either. Occasionally you can breed father/daughter but it’s not ideal.
Line-breeding goats will accentuate the good qualities- and the bad. If your buck has any negative traits (aggression, mother had low milk production,etc) those traits will be accentuated in his offspring if they are a product of line-breeding. But on the other side- good qualities will also be accentuated, which can be a very big plus.
The best way to get around this is to only keep or breed high quality bucks and if you keep your own bucks keep at least 2 on hand for the purpose of genetic diversity in your breeding program.
Related Reading: Kidding Kit- Everything You Need to Be Prepared for Kidding
And there is your run down on breeding goats. It’s an exciting time of year with all the promise of next year’s kidding season! Are you a seasoned breeder or just getting started- leave a comment with your experiences or questions!
That is some great, detailed, information. I would like a couple of dairy goats in the future (probably not a buck, but I would still like to breed them so I can get milk). Thanks for the post :)
I have a 2 year old Nubian goat that has been bred before. I tried to breed her two times this year but with no success I believe that the buck was not aggressive enough so I was wondering if I could breed her in the winter to another buck that is more aggressive. She does not seem to be going into heat and I am wondering if maybe she wont go into heat in the winter months. What do you think. Thanks for your answer I am new at this as you probably noticed.
Most seasonal breeders will breed August-January. Nubians do breed year round in certain situations. If you have a buck in rut, try putting them together for a month or so and see what happens.
We breed our Nubians November through February and even bred one in March. That might be rare though. The goat that bred in March we have tried to breed her MULTIPLE times and she would stand for the buck multiple times each cycle but it would never take. We ended up just having them live together and she delivered in July! But again, not normal.
I’m about to get into goat raising.
Most animals exhaust energy in generating heat in winter months. It is75% percent less likely to breed. They breed in fall moths ( before winter and before summer).
I was wondering how long you breed/milk your does? How many years?
We have one we’ve been milking 3 years without breeding again and she’s still going strong
If they have a copper and selenium deficicy and you treat the with the gel and bolus how long does it take for them to recover? Nothing bred so far this year and found out why now still hoping my alpines and Nubian mixes will still breed this winter? Yes I am new to goats
If they have a copper and selenium deficicy and you treat the with the gel and bolus how long does it take for them to recover? Nothing bred so far this year and found out why now still hoping my alpines and Nubian mixes will still breed this winter? Yes I am new to goats
We are new to goats and expecting(we believe) our first baby(s) ever. Thank u for sharing.
Hello, thank you for all the great info.
Last fall I bought a buck and 2 does. One doe and buck from the same lady (1/2 alpine 1/2 Nubian) the other doe from another location. (1/2 alpine 1/2 lamanchia and born June or July but. All born in 2015.)
It was believed the the 1st doe (came with the buck was possibly bred maybe October. We got all three of them home first weekend of November and they all live together.
It is now the first of February and I am concerned that I can not see or feel anything that makes me think they are bred.
Is there any hope of getting them to breed now if they are not?
I would appreciate anyone’s help thoughts experiences….
I was so wanting to start milling this spring.
And if you would please….
Also email me your reply in case I can’t locate this site again. I am not the most internet savy person. Thank You
I have a 2 year old x angora and her neutered brother gave only had for 3 weeks she is on heat and my neighbours have goats and is continually trying to get next door my mum is 80 and lives with me. It’s super stressful do you think it’s possible to spay her as can’t go through this every 21 days as I can’t get her to come back to her shelter and her brothers stressed crying as he is separated etc
Is there a certain age to stop breeding my doe, she is getting some age on her but she has the sweatiest milk I have ever had.
Crazy question: I got a saanen doe on May 17th of this year. After I had her for a month I noticed her left udder was a little puffy. They have continued to be lopsided but continually getting bigger. I was told on a goat site to check her and see if it looked like mastitis and if she had milk. I milked out a few squirts from both sides, but they were soft and not hot so no sign of mastitis. I thought it was precocious udder since it was mostly on one side. Now after almost 4 months both of her udders are large. I am so confused about this goat. I thought saanens were seasonal breeders. I do have a ND buck she has been with since I brought her home, but he wears an apron all the time. This apron prevented breeding when I had other ND does. ( since they were so hard to milk I sold them and got the saanen doe ) My buck is crazy for the doe. He rubs himself on her all the time, tries to breed, and is a real stinky boy, which is making her a real stinky girl too. If they are seasonal breeder, and he is so interested in her how could she be pregnant? I was told when I bought her that she was a little over a year old, I guess I’ll find out in a month. Any ideas for me I would love to hear.
Well here it is the first week of October and my buck is still rubbing all over my doe and yelling g and blubbering, so I don’t think she is pregnant. Her udders actually seem to be shrinking which is good. I am taking his apron off today and my question is how long will he keep trying to breed with her? She’s the only other goat I have and I’m hoping the bucky behavior will stop soon. If he keeps rubbing his cologne on her I’m going to have to get another buck and keep them locked up together in another pen. I don’t want the milk to taste off further down the road
Thanks for the info. I have a nigerian dwarf doe and buck. Also a lamancha doe and buck. Just got all 4 this year. I love having the goats. This will be my first breeding season. So excited!
Wooops! Not quite everything I should know and have been trying to find out. I have an 18 month old Nigerian Dwarf doe who is unusually small, like 15″ at the withers. She is perfect in proportion and quite healthy.
Because of her size I am afraid for her to be bred for fear she will have complications with carrying and birthing. Should I keep her away from the billies?
I would very much like an experienced ‘”comment” addressing this.
I believe the standard weight for ND goats is that they reach a weight of 40 lbs. At a year and a half she should be ready to breed, but I’d go by the weight to be safe.
Too avoid complications only breed her with the same size buck or a bit larger.
Good post. I learn something totally new and challenging on sites I stumbleupon on a daily basis.
It’s always useful to read through content from other
writers and practice a little something from other web sites.
We bought four goats from someone we don’t know. They were recommended to us by a friend but it turns out that they let their small female nubians become pregnant at a very young age. One of the twins lost her kid because she is too young and now the other twin is expecting “we think” and we are concerned about her. We are keeping a close eye on her. The kid that died was a single male and huge. I am so angry at myself for not checking into this prior to buying the goats. The goat also has serious damage…where there was nerve damage during birth and her back legs won’t stay together now when she walks. We might need to put her down. =) We have her legs supported now by a twine that spans between them keeping them from splaying apart too far. So warning about buying goats in Washington State from someone down south close to Oregon border. Call me before you buy.
A very good warning! We had a pair of wethers we got who were weaned too early after being born to a too young mother. They were sickly and didn’t grow well. We lost one this summer, and his twin, now after 6 years, is finally a nice healthy size. Breeding and care matter a lot!
Julia. Hello. Could you help me with something. How do I assure that my does have girls instead of boys once they are bread? Thank you
Unfortunately, much like with humans, there’s not a lot you can control there. The best way would be to focus on your buck and his history. For example, a farm near us had a buck that consistently threw triplet girls in all his breedings- that is one you would want to keep! But for the most part you will probably see an even split between bucklings and doelings being born.
When I originally commented I appear to have
clicked the -Notify me when new comments are added- checkbox and from now
on each time a comment is added I receive 4 emails with the same
comment. Is there a means you can remove me from that service?
thanks for the info. Wondering if, as with other animals, my doe will not go into heat if she is lacatating, ie. I am milking her. I would like to have her bred soon if possible.
She should go into heat while lactating. Just make sure there’s at least a year between kiddings, and that she is dried up a few months before she kids again.
Will my 8 month old buck be ready for breeding by august .He is a bore goat .and I also have a five month old Nubian I’m not sure he will be ready .I’m just getting started in the goat breeding so thanks for all the information I’ve learned a good bit and got a few ideas.
All goats are different, but I would say yes, he should be ready to breed. I wouldn’t let him cover a large number of does, but he should be good to go! They become sexually mature pretty young- 3 months or so. My experience with Nubians is that they are late bloomers and don’t always go into full run their first year…the boer should though.
Please help I got a male goat who goes in mountains every day with female goats from our village .many of the females or in season and we need some kind of device to put on him to stop him mating or we will have to keep him locked up for a month which I don’t like .as the villagers don’t want to have bays born to early in freezing weather
The make a sort of anti-mating apron for bucks to prevent breeding. You can order them online or they look fairly easy to make just search for antimating goat apron.
I have a breeding goat that is still young and not up to weight, any recommendations for a budget friendly feed? She is a boer goat.
I have a 1 and a 1/2 year old billy that i got at 4 months old he was very active in rut when i got him but now he does not seem to be coming into rut now and i dont know why i have 5 nannies and 3 have come into heat already and i see no activity on his part
I just bought a 3/4 Saanen Buck. I have 6 mixed Saanen does being penned with him at this time and I think they may now be pregnant by him. My question is … Can he be bred back into this herd and his daughters. How do I make this decision? 1. only breed him with his best offspring, 2.only breed him with the original does and sell all the rest of his kids, 3. Breed him with his doe kids and cull any defects?????
I would not suggest breeding your buck back to his daughters. The existing herd can be bred to him again. Line-breeding that close of a generation can cause trouble…I know a lot who either keep 2 bucks or rotate to a new buck every 2 years. So you might keep any daughters and not breed them and breed them the following year with a whole new buck with new lineage.
Hi, this may sound like a silly question but can I breed my Alpine/Boer does to a dwarf buck?
Yes- people use miniature breed bucks often to make mini versions of their favorite standard breeds.
These are my 1st 2 goats. They are Oberhasli twin sisters. In October I noticed the one went into heat and was pretty regular until her last one the beginning of December. Just this morning 2/28…..she’s gone into heat again! Why? Is there something wrong????
Did you breed her in the fall?
I’ve started my buckling in with my does to breed in the fall, wanted them to kind of accept him into the heard during their off breeding season and so far he’s been rejected for about a week and a half now, should I leave him in a little longer? People told me I should pull him out until their in heat and that I may have already ruined it and he won’t want to breed where he’s been picked on
Thank you for such an informative article. Was looking to buy a buck for my 2 does, but I think now I’ll pimp them out, at least until I get more ladies in. I have lamanchas funniest things I’ve ever seen. We live in the high desert of southern arizona and training them as pack goats. They’re medium sized so can’t pack like a larger goat, but for what we do, they’re perfect. Anyway (sorry about my bragging about my babies but they are such a blast!!!! Yes I’m a new goat mom) I don’t think I would like the stink of a buck, plus I don’t want to always be looking over my shoulder. Thanks again glad I didn’t throw money away
I have a 2 year old nigerian dwarf goat, she hardly shows signs of going in heat, and when she is, she still never alows the buck to get too close to her, he has tried to breed her a few times, she never has shown singns of being pregnant, she only weighs about 60 pounds still at 2 years old. Very active and healthy acting goats, whats my deal?
I am looking a buying a nigerian buckling that is half brother to my two does. Is there any reason this wouldn’t be ideal to start off with?
I would probably suggest going with a completely different bloodline for your buck
thanks for your information to us.i was breed the goat 12 dayas befor and tell now she looking heat .swalan red.and comings within gel.like spram.im New in got and too much like goat please reply me… thanks
i have a question. Can you breed two goats that have the same father but not the same mother? or vise versa?
I have attempted to breed a 3 y/o Nigerian Dwarf to a tiny Pygmy/Boer cross twice. She went into heat three weeks later both times. Should I try again, or is he shooting blanks? (I was truthfully a little worried that with the Boer in him, even though he is smaller than she is the babies might be too big for her. Any truth in that?)
I have a male and female Dwarf Nigerian goats–unrelated–who have bred male and female kids. Three weeks later, the mom seems to be in heat again. I can separate the two parents but I am asking about how to deal with the kids and breeding. I don’t want them to breed but how can best I avoid it? The baby male is already practicing on his sister. Right now, they are one big happy family in the same pasture and sleeping stall. I could use some advice from more experienced people. We are really just keeping these animals as pasture pets and not looking to breed and sell them or milk them.
Castrate the buckling (male kid) as they are fertile as early as 7 weeks old. Doelings (female kids) sexually mature as young as 4 months. Castration by banding is a common method which can be done by your vet, or a local experienced goat owner or breeder willing to help. The buck and buckling are both capable of impregnating the (mom) doe and (sister/daughter) doeling if they are kept together. This is not recommended for the risks already mentioned in the article and comments. If your goats are just pets and you aren’t looking to breed and sell, castrate both males. Wethers (castrated males) make much better pets than bucks, and all can live together without creating unwanted kids and inbreeding.
Was wondering what color the kids will be from a mating of a saanen doe and a chammoisse buck. The bucks mother was a broken black. I was told that saanens will always have white babies. Is this true
Full Saanens will always produce white babies regardless of who you breed them to. The 2nd generation will have color. ie. We bred our Saanen’s to a Ober buck, the babies were white. The doe from that kidding was bred a year later (to an Ober buck) and her babies looked like Obers.
We have 2 female dwarf goats that gave birth to their babies at the same time. Can I keep all the babies and moms in the same pen?
I have done that and it is usually just fine. Do pay attention to the herd dynamic and watch for bullying. If the does are good friends then it’s usually not an issue to have them kid together
If the kids are female, yes. If they are male, if keep until they are three months old.
I’d like to breed my Lamancha doe to a Nigerian buck. I tried last year, but I thought he was able to reach, but apparently not, because she did not get pregnant. Any strategies for helping the buck reach the doe? We had the buck standing in a higher hill and the doe on the slopping part.
Thanks for your input.
I’ve seen people use a hay bale for the buck to stand on
Dig a rut for her to stand in
I have a small herd of Nigerian Dwarfs (6 does and 1 buck) and 6 Boer does that are probably under 6 months old. ( I’ve had them since July and they were about 3 months old then.) The Boers all stay together away from the Nigerians and the Nigerians stay together away from the Boers. Within the groups the goats all get along. I have 10 baby Nigerian goats that circulate freely among the herd and have no problems. My Nigerian buck has shown no interest in the Boer does that I have observed. Should I wait about 6 months to get a Boer buck and separate the 2 breeds or just let nature take its course. I’ve been letting the buck stay with the Nigerian does with no problems. My younger does usually have twins twice an year and once I had 3 does with triplets at the same time. All stayed healthy and alive until I sold the offspring. I have 20 acres in the country near Dibble, OK.
I have two eight year old Toggenberg does. We have never bred them but we are thinking about starting a herd. Can I breed them for the first time at eight years old?
I have 1 buck and 1 doe they have different moms same dad would it be ok to breed them?
There is so much info on goats. Im new to this goat thing. We have 3 goats.1 doe, 1 buck, 1 weather Nigerian dwarf goats. We planted to breed and sell the babies. They both have papers. But we found out they have the same dad. I hate to get rid of either one, or cut the buck. We really fell in love with them. They have some significant meaning helping us through a rough time. They have all been free range with the rest of our little farm. Even a chetland horse. (Cut) Everything has worked out great. But now we just had our first kid. Just Saturday. And now learning i need to separate the buck from the does unless mating. Im so confused and need some guidance. Breed or not to breed. (We would be devastated if we had something go wrong) and i have to seperate them? Tia
Would breeding two half siblings be ok? Same mother different fathers.
I am just getting started and I have a Nigerian dwarf goat that is about to kidd. It is exciting. My sister is also breeding but we disagree on line breeding, I don’t think you should, she says it is ok to breed father and daughter so you can get the line you want, if you do line breeding shouldn’t it be grandfather and granddaughter to avoid less bad traits?
I have one buck with 3 different nannies. Can you breed these goats coming from same dad but different mom?
What about breeding bucks and does together that have the same father but different mothers?
Can a half brother breed his half sister?
The buck is the dad of both….they have different mommas