Yesterday was a very long day after being up the whole night before. One of our does, a first freshener, kid. We lost one of the babies due to a difficult birth, but saved the doe and other kid. We also learned a lot, including the fact that many are not so lucky.
We have not had first fresheners before, and it seemed there was a wide variety of information on when you should breed a goat for the first time. We decided to listen to the vet’s advice to breed after they reached half of their adult weight or 7-8 months. Now, knowing so many goat breeders and having experience with this I would say the veterinarian’s advice was too soon. The doe was not prepared for a bad delivery, and while she did bond with the kid, you can tell she really is a little young.
Here is a guideline for breeding those does for the first time, based on what I have learned myself and from talking with other goat owners. First, the doe really needs to be mature enough to handle kids. Second, she needs to be closer to an adult size when you breed her, not expect her to just keep growing and be big enough at kidding. Age ranges for most of the breeders I have talked to range at earliest being 10 months, all the way to 18 months at first breeding. This would generally give you the first kidding at around 2 years of age for the doe. Most of the breeders who are not showing seem to breed at 12 months or so. I really hope this information helps some of you who are new to breeding goats, and helps prevent early breeding and resulting difficult births or useless deaths of kids or does. From now on, at our farm, the minimum breeding age will be 12 months!