When to Breed?

Discussion in 'Goat Management' started by TroutRiver, Oct 22, 2010.

  1. TroutRiver

    TroutRiver New Member

    Oct 14, 2010
    I have heard lots of conflicting opinions about when the best time is to breed young does, and thought I would get some of your opinions. I have three does this year, two are adults and have been bred before. The other is a nubian/boer doeling, about 6 months old. We are planning to breed the two older does in December so that they Kid at the end of May. As for the younger one, I have heard that milk production is better over the long-term if you breed the first year instead of waiting until they are yearlings. Is this true? Do most of you breed does their first year, or wait until the second year? I've heard 70 pounds is the minimum weight to breed, but I've also heard from a local commercial goat dairy that 45-55 pounds is fine for breeding young does. Also considering that she is half boer and won't get as tall as my nubian or my nubian/alpine. Any thoughts?
  2. sweetgoats

    sweetgoats Moderator

    Oct 18, 2007
    Peyton CO.
    Well, I do not raise dairy goats, but I will tell you my opinion on the idea of breeding any goat to young.
    They are still developing and need to take all the energy they have to grow into being the best size doe she can be. If you breed the early, she will take a lot of her energy away from herself to give to the offspring. I wait until they are a year old before I bred them, even then I do nto always breed them. I have one that is a year old She was born(Jan 22nd, 2009), she is the same size as one of my babies that was born Jan 2 2010. So to say the least she was NOT bred this year. She needs a little morer time to grow up.

    Now that all said, remember they need to be big enough to deliver a baby. I had a doe years ago that delivered a day before she turned a year old. She had a hard time delivering and had I not been ther I would of lost her and the baby. I could not bred her for two years so she had time to catch up with the size and development that she lost.

  3. StaceyRosado

    StaceyRosado Administrator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Oct 4, 2007
    I know that meat breeds should wait till they are at least a year old before breeding.

    With your standard size dairy I like to see them 80lbs or more before breeding. Dairy goats if you wait till they are over a year old to breed can get very fat as yearlings and have a harder time settling (not saying across the board just is something to watch for). Btu no it wont hurt her milk production in the long run if you keep her dry this year and wait till fall of 2011 to breed her.

    Some does grow better when pregnant. I had a doe who was tiny tiny and she grew when pregnant (oops breeding) and I had another year when I bred one 9 month old but not the other - the bred doe actually grew while the dry doe took longer to grow. THe pregnancy hormones can actually aid in the growth for some does.

    Other does need extra time to grow doesnt matter if bred or not they just are slower growers. When in doubt ... dont breed.
  4. firelight27

    firelight27 Hopelessly Addicted

    Apr 24, 2009
    Southern Oregon
    Veterinarians will tell you that the babies taking away from growth of the mom is a complete myth. Being pregnant will not slow or stunt growth in young animals...whether they be goats, horses or humans. It is logical to think that nutrients used for growth purposes will be taken away to grow babies..but this just isn't true. At least as long as the mother is well fed. She will have plenty of nutrients for both growth and pregnancy.

    As Sweetgoats mentioned, however, you obviously want her to be large enough to give birth without tragedy. I've had a very tiny doe give birth very easily (bought bred), but her kids were extremely tiny and needed a little extra help keeping warm and getting fed their first night/day of life. If they are a year old and look like they are only 4 months, then I would say that there is a significant danger there of having minuscule kids if not stuck ones. All animals grow at their own rates. Some are late bloomers, some are crazy huge. I have a doeling who is 8 months, and is slightly smaller than a 5 month old doe that I also own.

    Just use your discretion. Does she look large enough to carry and birth kids easily, that aren't pixies?? Then it should be fine to breed her.
  5. myfainters

    myfainters New Member

    Oct 29, 2009
    Lancaster, CA
    AGREED! :thumbup:
  6. Squires

    Squires New Member

    Sep 14, 2010
    It is normal in some herds and flocks (I also have dairy sheep) to breed youngsters to freshen at one year of age. But you must feed them more to maintain their growth and the growth of their kids. The youngsters shouldn't have to compete with older, full-grown does for all their feed -- so only do it if you can separate the age-groups for a little extra feed to first-timers, or feed each one individually.

    I was listening to some experienced commercial goat dairy and goat-meat producers talking, and their consensus was that if you are doing agriculture, you do not waste a year.

    There are little tricks that some people use -- such as using a sire from a smaller breed or blood-line on first-fresheners, or a sire with a smaller head to ease the birth. Some breeds of sheep naturally give birth to tiny lambs and then compensate with extra creamy milk and fast growth -- using one of their sires might produce smaller babies. There are probably similar blood-lines in some breeds of goats -- tending towards smaller birth weights that catch up with faster growth. Lots of tricks out there to ease the first pregnancy, if you know the genetics of your animals -- depending on what you plan to do. However, these are not essential -- just options.

    Some bloodlines will keep growing for a couple of years -- some take longer -- so there will be more growth. And yes, pregnancy hormones can cause little growth spurts, too.

    What works for me is to breed a youngster when it is about 70% or more of its adult weight, and feed it just a little extra to maintain growth. I try to prevent early "oops!" breedings at all costs. A vet told me to use Lute on youngsters to terminate very early pregnancies, as those are the most likely to have problems (3 month old doeling should NOT be bred! Even if she can be!).

    With my dairy sheep, I hold ewe-lambs back for a later breeding in the season. If they don't "take" because it is too late in the season, they get the year off. I'm OK with this.

    BUT there should not be a problem breeding your doelings so that they freshen at a year of age, provided you feed them appropriately. Not too much, not too little. Not that hard. :)