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.