A Dairy Goat Homestead: Our First Breeding Season, Part 1

| 10/30/2013 11:00:00 AM

goatsAfter purchasing dairy goats, I gave very little thought to breeding season. A dairy goat needs to be bred every year in order to keep producing milk, and I assumed that was a somewhat simple process. Girl goat meets boy goat, girl goat likes boy goat, and in five months little baby goats are running around. Right? Well, so far it has not been that easy. Of the few challenges that I have faced since becoming an owner of dairy goats, this has been perhaps the most frustrating.

Currently, I do not have a buck on my property, and it would take much convincing to get me to buy one. Bucks are just a tad grotesque, in my humble opinion. First, they pee all over themselves. Sure, the does seem to love the stench emanating from a buck's sticky orange beard, but I can handle a few trips to the breeder in order to avoid nuzzling my face up to that when it is time to trim hooves. Second ... Does there need to be another reason? I think not.

Usually, breeding season begins in late summer and lasts until early winter. October is prime breeding time, and I have spent this month critically watching each goat - analyzing tail flicks, noting eating habits, and watching for other more intimate details that might signify heat. When one of my goats finally began showing some of these signs, I was thrilled! I had waited weeks for this and excitedly called my breeder. Two hours later, Cupcake was loaded in the backseat of my truck and on her way to see her buck-friend.

When I unloaded her, I awkwardly described all the reasons I thought Cupcake might be in heat. These included tail flagging and crazier than normal behavior. We put her in with the buck and stood back and shuffled our feet while the buck unsuccessfully tried to get his job done. It was determined that we would leave her with the buck overnight and see if she would warm up to her rather ardent companion.

I was not expecting to leave her overnight and found it rather difficult to walk away.  It was a similar feeling to leaving a child for their first overnight with Grandma and Grandpa, just slightly more "farmy." I somehow managed to drive off, and I returned home to console my remaining goats at the temporary loss of their friend. However, I will admit to some celebration over the fact that I did not need to milk Cupcake that night.

The next day, I found myself trekking through the woods for eight hours in an attempt to track a deer. While floundering through thick underbrush, I received a call from the breeder. Cupcake was not in heat, and no magic happened during the previous night. I must have been a sight driving back from their farm: there was a goat riding in my backseat, sticks and briers were stuck in my hair, and my flannel chore jacket had seen better days. My rather haggard expression probably did little to help the effect. I felt a lingering gaze from the driver next to me at the gas station and caught a couple hoots from a group of high school boys walking down Main Street. I have a feeling that it was not because of how attractive I looked that afternoon.

12/11/2013 11:19:08 AM

I had no idea it would be this difficult! I *think* two of my does are bred now, but I will remain dubious until the spring. Do you offer breeding services to others? Do you think it's worth it in the long run? I have access to a fairly decent buck for a $40 fee. I don't know if I could handle keeping a buck on my property, though!

Rachel Whetzel
12/10/2013 1:00:56 PM

Ahhhh this is such a familiar saga for me! I have to admit... I broke down and bought two stinkies... Now that I know my girls a bit better, I *might* be better at guessing... but for me, the ONE time a breeding date was successful for me off farm was when I paid to board my doe with the breeder. I took her in just a few days before she was due according to my calculations, to come into heat, and then I left her for a month.

11/4/2013 7:57:15 AM

That is a great idea. I will try contacting some of the farms in our area. Thank you for the suggestion!

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