When Should I Breed My Goats?

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!

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About nigerianmeadows

I am a homeschooling mother of 2 autistic children and cook gluten-free, I homestead on 2.5 acre and raise goats and chickens for dairy and eggs, I garden, cook, quilt, and take photographs. I build, paint, scrub, and dance on tables. I am the ultimate WOMAN!!! Oh, yeah, and I like my husband a whole lot (he is the one that makes all this possible, and he loves me like no other!)
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9 Responses to When Should I Breed My Goats?

  1. Uddermost Farm Girl says:

    Jordana, as I read your posts about Cindy’s ordeal, I felt the dread rise in me with 3 impending births. Now I read this and am trying not to be afraid. I followed the same advice and bred my doe at 7 months and 40 lbs. Your advice is good and I will add mine to is when we know the outcome of her first delivery.

    • I understand. I remember when you were asking me what I knew. We bred ours right about the same time. Your girls all look like they will be okay, though. I think Cindy would have been fine except that the babies were breach and had their legs tucked up where I couldn’t get hold to pull them out. Odds are everything will go smooth for you. If you need me, call. I’m not that far away, and if you give me a heads up I will keep a phone near. There were so many people online that stayed up and helped me with Cindy via IM. I can’t tell how grateful I was since I couldn’t reach the vet! I’m sure both of ours that are still due will be okay.

  2. smwon says:

    Hi, I am new to your blog so I will have to go read about your goats. I too have Nigerian Dwarf goats and love them! I breed at around 7 months and have had no problems so far…

    • Hi! Actually, the other doe (full sister and bred at the same time) kid this morning with no complications, but I think a little more age would be good for us. I really needed to get them going since we need the does for milk, but I still wish I had waited a little longer. Every one breeds differently, and I’m so glad it has worked for you to breed at 7 months! That is what I was told, too, but I’m just finding out many of the breeders have found that to be a little young, higher risk in any case, though there is risk every time you breed. Thanks for posting a reply! I love meeting other goat people!

  3. Lori says:

    I know lots of folks who started breeding their girls around 7 – 9 months. Most of our girls are plenty experienced, but last year we had a first freshener. She had just turned 2 at the time. Even though she’d had several heat cycles, we just had a feeling that we needed to wait. She was so slight, so effeminate, we just wanted her to fill out a little more before going through a pregnancy and delivery. So, we didn’t breed her until she was a little over 18 months old. All went well and she delivered a single, gorgeous buck kid without assistance – she wanted an audience, but didn’t want help.

    I’ve seen goats that I would certainly breed at 7-9 months… I think it just depends, y’know?

    • 12 months seems to be the average for a lot of the breeders on forums, but then many of them are showing as well in junior categories. I also saw a lot of 18 month recommendations. Most vets consider 7-9 months to be just fine. It’s really a personal choice, I think, but I kind of like the later age. I’m thinking, just for me, that it may help the doe be stronger. A 13-year old girl can carry and deliver a baby, be it’s mother, etc. but it’s harder on her body in the long run. That’s nothing against others breeding earlier, just me wondering if I would be better off waiting if I can. And I definitely agree that it depends on the doe! I got a bit of a bad taste with that bad delivery that triggered this post, but the full sister kid a day later with no problem, and she was the runt and smaller, more petite. Odds are there was just something wrong in this case, but it made me think about what I wanted to do in the future.

  4. mary johnston says:

    Thank you for all the information on your post. I am new to breeding and have two nigerian dwarfs that I will be breeding soon. They are 7 and 8 months old now. I have decided it would be best to wait until they are closer to a year old. My question is can I breed them at any time during the year?

    • They cycle strongest in the fall and winter generally, but can be bred year-round. Thats one of the advantages of nigerian dwarfs. Since writing this post I have found you can feed a doe well enough to support growth as well as babies, but you have to be pretty careful to give adequate nutrition. Good luck on your breeding!

  5. mary johnston says:

    Ok great, thank you!

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