Goat Kidding, Reproduction and Breeding
Generally, goats become sexually mature at between four to six months of age. Of their 21 day reproductive cycle, doe’s are generally fertile for only 3 days. Doe’s are most fertile between the months of September to March. Once mated goats produce milk for a sustrained period of time, up to 3 years. The gestation period of a goat is approximately 150 days.
A healthy goat is capable of producing 1-3 offspring per successful ovulation. Young Kids source food from their mother for about 10 to 12 weeks.
To encourage rumen development, goat kids should be fed with an increasing amount of solid foods from about two to three weeks of age. If you notice any peculiar feeding behavior contact your local livestock agency for more information.
As goats are sensitive and intelligent animals hence they should be handled in a smooth and calm manner. Loud children can startle young goats however, goats are known to be very child friendly and can make very rewarding pets.
Interestingly, goats possess a well defined social hierarchy or pecking order like. Lonesome and isolated goats do not do so well when neglected and should be cared for more akin to the care a domesticated pet, like a family dog, receives. Goats are intelligent and do much better in social pairs and medium groups.
Breeding Period of Does
A doe can be on heat for about 21 days in a month for a time span of 2-48 hours each time. When on heat, the does frequently flag their tails and are often found staying very close to bucks. During this time, the does generally becomes more vocal and a reduction of appetite is noticed. A low production of milk is also noticed during this period and it is not recommended to interfere with a goat on heat.
Breeding Period of Bucks
Prior to the breeding period of bucks, a change in normal behavior is noticed. This period of breeding is known as ‘the rut’. In this period, bucks display different behavior that includes a reduced appetite, increased aggression, a definitive odor and an obsessive interest in does. The strong odor coming from bucks when in the rut, is not detectable in does.
The process of birthing among the goats is known as Kidding. After a goat has given birth, the parenting goat may become hungry and should be supplied food. Does that have given birth are known regain some strength by eating their placenta. This helps to control the blood flow of the baby and reduces the birth scent that attracts predators.
Next, a period known as the ‘freshening period’ begins. In this period, the female goat begins her lactation and begins preening the baby goat. A healthy doe commonly produces six pounds of milk daily for her offspring. Careful note should be taken when measuring the available milk to a kid. Kids require large amounts of milk and nutrition after birth and it is recommended that a supplement be given to goats deemed weak or slow to respond.
Kids are nursed for about to ten to twelve weeks until weaning begins. It is believed that early nursing and preening prevents the development of aggressive and dirty behavior as well as unpleasant goat smells.
How Long do Goats Live for?
On an average, does usually live for about 11 to 12 years if looked after well and kept from disease and danger. Premature death does occur during birthing of an offspring and is the most common ‘natural’ way a goat dies. However does have been known to live up to 18 years if they are retired from breeding at a young age.
Records show that doe’s can survive to the age of 24 years. In this particular case, it was believed this was because the doe had been retired from breeding at the age of 10 years. Overbreeding in goats can drastically reduce their life expectancy.
On average, bucks live a shorter life when compared to the doe. It is thought that ‘the rut’ period takes a lot of energy out of bucks and nature does simply does not require the buck to live as long as the doe.