Breeding Fainting Goats
The Birds and the Bees
All people that raise goats for a living think about the process of breeding fainting goats. There also comes a time in every fainting goat’s life when a buck and a doe meet and sparks begin to fly, and if they truly love each other enough, they will make a baby goat…As funny as it sounds, fainting goat breeding doesn’t work like the birds and the bees.
When male fainting goats (known as Bucks or Billys) are ready to breed or mate it is called “rut.” This “rut” stage generally starts with the beginning of breeding season. Signs of a rut include a decrease in appetite, a very strong interest in the does, fighting between the bucks in the herd, and a strong, musky, foul-smelling odor.
In females (does or nannies), the breeding period is known as estrus or heat. According to Angela McKenzie-Jakes, an Extension Animal Science Specialist at Florida A&M University, the estrus cycle generally lasts 18-22 days for does. The estrus cycle is characterized by tail wagging, mucous discharge, vocalization (or bleating), and being mounted by or mounting other goats.
When breeding fainting goats in the U.S., the traditional breeding season is from around late August until early January. Some goats can breed out of season. According to the folks over at Fias Co Farm, breeding fainting goats in warmer climates are more likely to have a longer breeding season.
In a Rut
It is possible for the male fainting goats to go through puberty as and breed with does as young as 4 months old. However, it is generally recommended that fainting goat breeders wait until the buck is a year old before they begin breeding. The number of does that a buck can breed with during the breeding season depends on the buck’s age. This number can be referred to as “Buck Power” (Noble, 2004. “Effect of Condition Scores on Late Pregnancy Does Subsequent Performances.”)
A one-year-old buck can service up to 10 does in a month. At two years old, a buck should be able to breed with 25 does in a month. Bucks aged 3 and older can breed up to 40 does in a month as long as the breeder takes care to ensure the animal’s health and nutritional needs are being satisfied. The number of does that any one buck will can breed with in the course of a month will also depend on the individual animal’s sex drive, the terrain of the land, and whether his is part of a hand- or pasture-mating system. Be sure to take good care of your bucks, because they can have the greatest impact on the future genetics of your herd.
The length of the day can also have an effect on reproduction within the herd. Bucks are said to have the highest libido, fertility, and semen quality in late summer and early fall, when the daylight hours are a little shorter (McKenzie-Jakes, Florida A&M University). When the daylight period is longer, less sperm is produced and there is a greater likelihood for abnormal sperm in the semen. In Autumn, the fainting goat’s endocrine system increases level of sex hormones, testosterone and luteinizing hormone. Additionally, McKenzie-Jakes notes that the “larger the scrotal circumference of the buck, the higher his libido and fertility.”
It has been noted by more than one breeder that male goats can become more aggressive with their handlers while they are in a rut.
When it’s time for Heat
Your doe will reach puberty at somewhere between 4 and 12 months old, depending on her genetics, the season of birth, level of nutrition, and overall health. If the doe is under-fed it can decrease her chances of becoming pregnant and having kids. It can also reduce her milk production after having kids. The doe has reached puberty when she exhibits her first heat and ovulation.
Estrus is the period of time when the doe will stand and allow the buck to mate with her. The specific time of estrus can last between 12 and 36 hours, and the time from one heat cycle to the next is called the estrous cycle. In general, this cycle occurs every 18 to 24 days in goats with an average of 21 days. Two to three weeks prior to the breeding season, you may want to give your does an injection of Vitamin E with Selenium (which can be found easily at Amazon) to aid in their ovulation.
Does in heat may exhibit signs of a mucous discharge from the vulva, swollen vulva, bleating, frequent tail wagging, pacing down the fence line, and standing in heat. When a doe reaches 60-70% of the average adult weight, she should be safe to breed. (The weight of fainting goats is usually between 80 and 100 pounds, however, there is a large range of weight, with some animals reaching as high as 200 pounds.) If you breed your doe too early, she may have difficulty during kidding and/or there may be an adverse impact on her future reproductive performance.
The length of pregnancy when breeding fainting goats is typically between 145 to 152 days (my wife would say they have it easy), with an average of 150 days. Under normal circumstances, it is possible for the doe to birth multiple kids. The American Goat Society has a gestation calculator here.
You can find out more about the care of the new arrivals in our Baby Goat Care page and also subscribe to our newsletter below to keep updated on future articles.