Goat Reproduction Preparing for the Breeding Season

Goats May 24, 2013 Print Friendly and PDF

Below are some suggested management practices:

Doe Management

1.) Provide additional feed to does and ewes one to two months prior to the breeding season. Supplement the females with 0.5 pound of concentrate or grain per head, per day to improve body condition and ovulation rates. For more information: http://www.extension.org/pages/19335/goat-flushing-meat-goats. Note: Using a body condition score scale of 1-9 with 1 being emaciated and 9 being obese, if the doe body condition score (BCS) is above 5 or the dairy goat's BCS is higher than 3.5, they may not require the additional supplement. For more information about body condition scoring, see: http://www.extension.org/pages/19317/goat-reproduction-nutrition-impacts-reproduction and http://www.extension.org/pages/19530/goat-body-condition-score.

2.) Check the doe's body condition score, FAMACHA© score (FAMACHA derived from the name of the creator of this system, Dr. Faffa Malan; CHA stands for chart) routinely, with optional fecal egg counting, to monitor the nutrition and health status of the animals. For more information on FAMACHA and fecal egg counting see: http://www.extension.org/pages/19650/goat-diagnostic-methods

3.) Two to three weeks prior to the breeding season:

  • Deworm the does using targeted selected treatment such as FAMACHA.
  • Vaccinate the females with C&D tetanus toxoid.
  • Check and trim the goat’s hooves if needed.
  • Give the does an injection of vitamin E/Se to aid in ovulation if you want (optional).
  • If planning for artificial insemination (AI), plan estrous cycle synchronization prior to this time.

4.) Breeding Day:

  • Breed does with BCS between 5 and 6 or 3 to 3.5 for dairy goats.
  • Place the buck with the does for two estrous cycles, or 42-45 days and then remove him, or AI
  • At least ten days after the last AI, put a "clean-up" buck in with does to breed ones that did not get pregnant from AI
  • Record breeding date, breeding weight (optional), FAMACHA scores and BCS.

Putting a marking harness with a colored crayon on the buck will help you keep track of what animals were bred.

Buck with marking harness

5.) Mid-Pregnancy:

  • Continue to monitor BCS and FAMACHA scores biweekly.
  • Monitor does for signs of abortions, or bloody discharge around the vulva area.

6.) Last Six Weeks of Pregnancy;

  • Vaccinate (booster) the does with at least CD&T (Clostridium C&D and tetanus toxoid) to pass immunity in the form of antibodies on to the unborn kids. A veterinarian should be consulted to find out which other vaccines are recommended for goats in a particular area. For more information about vaccination and diseases see:http://www.extension.org/pages/27116/goat-vaccination-program and http://www.extension.org/pages/22445/goat-diseases
  • Increase feed if body condition scores are below 5 for the meat doe or 3 for a dairy doe during the last two to four weeks of pregnancy, since 70-percent of the fetal growth occurs during this period. However, animals should not be over-conditioned at this time. Females that are too fat or obese during this period of gestation may have difficulty in kidding or they may become susceptible to pregnancy toxemia.
  • Give a second injection of vitamin E/Se to aid in embryonic development if you want (optional).
  • Try not to roughly handle does that are over three months pregnant to reduce stress.

Females that are in good body condition prior to parturition should be able to produce offspring that are healthy, have good stamina and have good growth potential. The does should also be able to produce high quality colostrum and a large quantity of milk and should be able to breed back quickly.

Reference: McKenzie-Jakes, A. 2008. Reproductive Management of Small Ruminants Module 13 In: Master Goat Producers Manual, Florida A&M University, Tallahassee, FL.

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This work is supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, New Technologies for Ag Extension project.