This week, we had our last goat kid born for this season which made me want to talk a little bit about breeding season and what has worked really well for us in the past, and what didn’t work as well for us this year.
We usually keep two bucks and up to four does. With only three people living on the farm, and one of the three not able to drink even goat’s milk, we find that four is our maximum number of does. Otherwise, we end up with more milk than we can drink, turn into cheese or turn into soap.
Now, we’ve tried two different methods for breeding over the years. The one that seems to work best for us, is putting the doe in the pen with the buck. Preferably, have a pen where the does are not able to walk up to the buck. We’ve had a friend of ours have all five of her does get bred by her buck in just a few minutes. They all lined up to the buck pen and by the time she spotted them, he was just finishing the last one. Those does all kidded on the same day. It was a stressful, frantic experience for the poor lady!
When the buck has bred your doe,I’d recommend marking that on a calendar or in a planner so that you can then have a decent estimate of when the babies are due.
The other way, that we tried this year, was just turning a buck out with the does. I really don’t recommend this method! Our does were bred over the fall, and then we had no idea exactly when to start to expect babies this spring. As a result, our last doe, had her kid unattended and the kid managed to get separated from the doe through a fence. Thankfully, we were able to find that baby before it was too late. The rest of the does started kidding in February, and we had kiddings all the way through the beginning of May. On the one hand, it does mean that we are more likely to have our does milk over the winter. On the other hand, we had no approximate due dates, and ran a decent risk of first time does, having to kid on their own. We won’t be repeating that mistake next year!
If you keep track of possible due dates by putting the doe in the buck pen when she is in heat, it makes it much more likely that you will be able to catch difficult kiddings when they happen such as happened to us with one doe this year who we thankfully caught as she was trying to kid.
At the end of the kidding season, may you have many adorable, healthy kids, and lots of milk from your does!