Thursday, October 4, 2012

Goat Breeding Basics, FAIL

Let me be the first to tell you that I am not a goat expert.  Nor did I do exceptionally well in my high school biology classes.  But there are a few things that I think everyone should know before getting into goats (or any type of livestock or domestic critter).

I've been debating on doing this post because it makes me feel like an uneducated and unsavvy livestock owner.  But I promised myself that this blog wouldn't focus solely on the "Fuzzy and Cute" aspects of homesteading.  And I have to get it out.  So here goes:

The wonderful gentleman I bought the brother & sister Boer kids from was very nice.  He has a beautiful clean home, a secure and well equipped area for his goats, a well behaved Great Pyrenees livestock guardian.  The goats looked to be in good health.  The goats I was going to look at for purchase were already in a small holding pen for me to see.

We traded cash for goats, I put them in the back of the truck in separate cages and off we went.  When I got home, they both went into a large kennel until I could put the doeling in the larger goat pen and put the male in with Pan, our other buck goat.

The short time that they were in the kennel together, the male kid attempted to mount the female.  There wasn't any connection, but I wasn't supervising them the entire time.  We got them into separate quarters ASAP.

Boy goats are capable of breeding at a very, VERY young age.  Just because you think they are too "young" to be doing such things, does not mean that they aren't doing it.  A male kid that is intact (i.e. still has his package) can try, and may even succeed, breeding as young as eight weeks of age.  And if his eight week old sister happens to be in heat and in the same pen as him, he will try to breed her.

The concept of incest or statutory rape is of no concern to them.  They don't carry around little packages of caprine condoms.  And they don't even require permission from the female goat (although it does make things go much more smoothly if she's a willing participant).

But here's where I feel like a fool.  I emailed the man back for some more information and asked if he let the male kids (both intact, by the way) run with the entire herd.  His answer was, "Yes, but I haven't seen either of them try to breed the females."  So basically he was letting his six month old intact male goat kids run with the herd.  A herd that included two other females that were also only six months old.

Once again, I'm no expert, but if you've read even one stinking book on raising goats, or read one online article on goat keeping, there is something that is mentioned again and again.   And that's the fact that all intact male goats must be separated from the does by eight weeks of age.....not six months.

So, what are the chances that I now have a six month old doeling that is pregnant?  I honestly don't know.  But I do know that she is too young to be pregnant.  Yes, there are probably lots & lots of kids born to young does, but it's really not in the best interest of the doeling.  She should be putting her energy into growing herself, not a kid.  And if her kid is a large one, there could be potentially fatal results in birthing, for her and her kid.

As for her being bred by her brother?  Well, that doesn't bother me as much as being bred so young.  I can get over the inbreeding, but the young pregnancy is something that has me worried.  I'm pretty sure at her age she's already gone through a heat cycle.  Pickles, who is only just over three months old, just went into heat a few days ago.  But I'm not worried about Pickles being pregnant because unlike the previous doeling's owner, I don't let my bucks run with young females.  I don't know if I'm more disappointed in myself for not being more diligent in asking questions, or in the man I bought them from (i.e., was he really ignorant of the fact, or did he not want me to know that she might be pregnant?).

I know that there is a pregnancy blood test available, but I've never drawn blood before.  I could have the vet draw the blood & do the test (cha-ching).  Then if she is pregnant, there is a shot that can be given to abort the fetus.

Oh fellow keepers of goats, do you have any suggestions or first hand experience you'd like to share with me?  Am I being paranoid?  Should I just figure nature will take it's course?  I'd be most appreciative for your replies.


  1. Here is one that will make you laugh...

    Can't you just get a pee stick from the drugstore and well, test her that way? Perhaps goats don't make the same type of hormones that humans do... But at least it would be entertaining!

    Poor little doeling... I hope she doesn't become a teen mom...

  2. EPT sticks actually work it s the chasing kid around till she lees which is issue. I blood test cows but not sure on goats if same area.

  3. Not that it will make you feel any better, but I probably would have done the same thing - assumed he knew what he was doing because it was common knowledge (even to ME) that intact male goat kids are ready and willing to mount just about anything at a very early age. I think it says a lot that you are concerned and have taken every precaution yourself. I don't know what to tell you on the vet-intervention subject. Do you have a vet that you can call and talk to first about your concerns? I would go that route and, hopefully, can get some good advice amongst the savvy goat owners on the internet.

  4. Wow, I sure hope she hasn't been bred. I always wait until my girls are 18 months before their first breeding even though many people will breed them at 8 or 9 months. I hope you get some helpful advice. Let us know what you decide...

  5. How much did she weigh when you think she could have been bred. Also since goats come in heat approx. every 21 days, take her to the fence next to the bucks pen and see if she starts flagging her tail and showing interest in the buck, if she does she is not bred. Good luck. If you decide to go the EPT route, I had a friend who followed his dog around with a plastic gravy ladle to collect urine for diabetes tests.

  6. Oh I have been there done that. My husband bought 2 doelings from out of state. We had a huge argument over purchasing them but he drove 6 hours one way to get them and a buck. The buck wasn't related but it was in the pen with them. They were only 6 months old. Fast forward a few months and we had one of them die while kidding along with her kid. The following month the second went into labor on a weekend and we rushed her to the Vet where she had a C section. The buckling was stillborn and the doeling was fine (still have her). The Vet ended up having to do a hysterectomy so now we have a full blooded Nubian that can only be milked until she dries up because she can never be bred again. We got attached to these doelings and it broke our hearts to lose the first one and I cried like a baby when the second one had a C section. People just don't seem to understand how young they can be bred. As for the pregnancy test, I use the ones from dollar tree and they have worked for me. I just stand around waiting for them to pee and then rush over with the pee stick. I am with you on the shot. I wish we had known ours were pregnant before they were too far along.

  7. I am new to goats, so I don't have any advise for you. Sorry I'm going to try the preg. test on my girly when its time, that should be fun!

  8. I would collect the urine in a pie pan or something, it's easier than a stick LOL. Sorry you have to go through this worry. What I don't get is how anyone keeps them separated since NOTHING contains goats LOL. Keep us updated, find out how long they can go and have the "morning after shot" (LOL) still work, if it's past that already you might as well not splurge on the blood test. I could get blood from her if I lived closer :( Hopefully this is a false alarm!

  9. Tiny, that's not silly at all! Although I've heard conflicting answers on if it really works. Worth a try I suppose.

    Lisa, do you mean you've used the EPT on goats or cows?

    Susan, I'm going to scour the internet & goat forums for another day, then make some sort of decision. I figure I can't get her to a vet until Monday anyhow....weekend rates are just too high.

    Candy, as long as they are in good condition, I usually breed mine around nine months and have had good luck.

    Tombstone, I have NO idea when she may have been bred. I've been checking her backside now and watching out for signs of heat.

    Peggy, wow, that really stinks! That's why I'm thinking I'll end up getting her the lute (or whatever it's called) shot just to be sure.

    Kelly, good luck with your new goats (and trying to get her to pee on a stick!!!).

    Erin, containing goats is not easy, but if WE can do it, anybody can. But it's not like this guy even TRIED to separate them.

    Nancy, Even if I could get a refund, I don't think I would, he was just going to send them to the sale barn (or so he said) and at least I have some idea of their background. If she were to go to the sale barn I'm afraid she wouldn't get the special attention she needs if she's pregnant.

    1. I know others that EPT goats and sheep. I do not. I leave does/nannies with bucks about 6-7 weeks. If they catch I know later when they start bellying up. If not,I cull them. I do blood test cattle I AI.

  10. Exactly how long ago did this happen??? Couple of weeks, months?? If she has not come back into heat three weeks after...... heck anytime in the last 3 weeks ( every doe I own has been in heat...) Get yourself to the vet or to a nearby cattle man and get 3cc of lutylase. If she is less than 75lbs, I might cut that back to 2 1/2 cc. It will cause her to abort. Not pretty or popular but better than dead or stunted for her entire life. If she is very early in her pregnancy, all it will do is cause her to come back into heat with maybe a slight bloody discharge.
    I do not like to do this and it may cause her to skip the next heat cycle or two but..... I don't like losing them in a difficult kidding.

    1. Tana, I don't really know when she was (if at all) bred. I just got her a week ago, but she was run with the bucks her entire six-month life. I haven't noticed her coming into heat, but it's only been a week here. I haven't weighed her, but given she's about the same height as my three month old Boer, but maybe a bit chunkier, I'd say under 50 lbs. I can weigh her tomorrow.

      I was thinking I would just lute her anyhow. What is the worst that would happen if I did? I don't care if she doesn't come back into heat for months...I didn't plan on having her bred until next year anyhow. I just don't want a little doeling dead from giving birth.

  11. Im going through the same thing right now. Im gonna look into givin my doe the shot. I HAVE talked to a well known breeder about the situation. He would give,and has given, the shot before. Good luck.

  12. Yikes! My doe unlatched the gate for my buck yesterday (seriously!) and invited him right on into her pen. She has 2 six month old doelings in with her- so I am in the same boat as you. Let us know how it goes.