First Breeding Season - Triumphs and Travails

We are just wrapping up our first attempt at breeding the dairy goats naturally. We are not using AI this season. But I won’t bore you with the specifics of all that. This is a time for stories. Stories that are a daily experience of farming.

Gozer, hollerin' at the ladies

In an effort to synchronize the girls’ heat cycles we put them in a paddock near the bucks. They were about 2 feet apart. The boys inside their fortified pen and the girls inside the electro-netting.

Immediately the two boys started going bonkers. Making strange noises and butting the fence repeatedly. Neither tried to jump out or climb the fence. Just a lot of running straight at the fence, trying to plow it down. They know where the gate is, so they focused on that area the most. It also happens to be the weakest part of the fence, so I had to reinforce it twice within the week.

When we noticed a specific doe in heat we would take the rest of the girls away to the milk barn and leave the girl in heat in the pen. She would be wagging her tail, making a strange sound we’d never heard before and have a noticeably moist tail.

Next I would go into the buck pen and let one loose to run in with the girl, meanwhile holding back the other buck until Sweetbreads locked the gate.

Everything went surprisingly smoothly until the last few “dates”. George, the Alpine, had proven himself to be the casanova of the two. He had style and finesse. Upon entering the girl’s pen, George would immediately mount and seal the deal, usually two or three times in the first few minutes. You knew it was a good one because George would end with a big thrust and then fall over backward on the ground! Talk about hilarious.

Then he would go back to the doe and she would pee on his face. To which he would stare up at the sky and snarl his upper lip. At this point it’s impossible not to laugh. This is what he’s been waiting for all year. A doe to pee on his face.

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The Heat Is On - Our First Breeding Season Begins

Gozer, putting the moves on TijerasA few months ago, Scrapple and I had a little kitchen table meeting to strategize our first breeding season. We decided that we would aim to kid at the beginning of April. By that time the grass is growing and the sun is warm but the insects aren't yet out in full force. Goats have a 5 month gestation period so this meant we would breed at the end of October/beginning of November. 

While it was pretty easy to write "Breed Goats" into a calendar reminder, it didn't take long for the reality of how clueless we were about the actual logistics to set in. 

We knew that we wanted to choose who bred with who, and who was not going to be bred (Willow) so this ruled out just "running" the bucks with the does for a month (which is a great way to do things if your herd is set up for it). We would need to wait for the signs of heat or estrus in the doe. Then we would need to put the doe with one of the bucks in an area away from the herd. We would need to make sure that he actually did the deed, several times, and then wait to see if the doe came into heat again later in the season. If not, the breeding will have been successful. 

With no experience breeding any animals (not even pet hamsters!) we were a little boggled. We hit the books, expecting some clarity only to emerge thoroughly perplexed. Experienced goat owners talk of identifying a goat in heat by her waving tail and "winking" vagina. What!?!

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