First off you have to realize, there is almost no scientific research done on goats. 99% of what you will be using is not marketed towards goats. And manyvets have no earthly idea what they are talking about. Goats are not cattle!
To remain healthy, alive, and productive, a breeding doe needs a great amount of supportive care. Deworming, proper diet, supplements, minerals. The bucks put a lot of effort into breeding and need the same.
Here is a basic run down of things on my end.
Dry (open does not in milk) does are being fed grass hay and a bit of grain every day. A month before breeding season, grain begins to increase! I begin pouring it into them – this helps them to ovulate and release more eggs. A single kid birth is a troublesome birth.
ALL does come in to get their feet trimmed, supplemented with Bo-Se (prescription) for selenium, and dewormed pre-breeding twice. They’ve already received a copper bolus in June.
Breeding rolls around. I have the buck – he is stinking himself and everything else up. I hand breed everyone if I can and then he lives with the herd to catch any who might come back into estrus.
Grain feed increases slowly. Come December everyone gets copper bolused again and I begin adding alfalfa to the diet – the calcium is a MUST. They also begin to get yeast and powdered calcium in their feed.
February rolls around – time for the buck to leave if he hasn’t already. All this time between then and now you’ve been working on getting him back in shape. He’ll have lost weight and could possibly have urine scald on his legs. You’ll have been separating him to feed as he is not supposed to get an unproportionate amount of calcium vs phosphorous but still needs a good diet to get his weight back. He needs to be bolused just like the does, as well as given Bo-Se before and after breeding to keep fertility up. Dewormed before and after as well, and his feet trimmed no matter how badly he was stinking.
Everyone by now should be showing their udders and I will know who settled and who didn’t. Hopefully everyone did. They receive their CD/T booster, Bo-Se, and I now begin to pay far more attention to their moods and actions.
March! KIDDING TIME! Five months after they are bred, I now face multiple sleepless nights. Every doe is checked multiple times during the day. I pay special attention to several points – udder, hind legs, tail ligaments, behavior. All of these can tell me when they are due to kid. If I feel they are close, they go into the kidding stall and I watch them on camera.
Kidding! If all goes well, the most I need to do is wipe off noses and make sure the babies nurse. Or more likely, I’m sorting out tangled kids in utero and helping them into the world. I hold scared first fresheners until they understand what their babies are. I pray that no kid is so large I cannot pull it on my own. I pray no doe tears inside and needs to be put down.
Mama gets dewormed again, babies get umbilicals dipped and get a vit e and selenium supplement. They are kept stalled for a couple days if I don’t need the stall immediately, then out with the herd. Babies MUST have access to safe warm dry shelter. A wet and cold baby goat is a dead baby goat, period.
Kids now need to be disbudded. Nothing like the smell of burnt hair and flesh and horn bud. Kids need their CD/T booster. Kids need to be pulled from mama and taught to nurse from a bottle before going to new homes.
Now mamas need to be milked. Their grain and alfalfa ration is huge. They eat it all and demand more. They lick up every bit of the expensive minerals and demand more. The newbie moms have to be hobbled and taught what milking is all about. The pros kick the bucket over from time to time to remind you who is really in charge.
Any kids you kept are either nursing mama and need to be separated at night once they are old enough so you can milk in the morning, or you are bottle feeding up to 3-4 times a day. They need to be carefully managed – coccidosis and worms are a massive killer of baby goats, and what they don’t kill, they stunt.
So kids are on some kind of preventive program. If you can get Baycox, you can get away with one dose at 21 days. If not, you are using Corid or Albon or Sulmet and treating orally every 21 days for five days in a row. You are also carefully deworming with the proper dosages and dewormer every 21 days. Prevention in kids is key if you want them to grow robust. They also eat an amazing amount of high protein for their size.
Now you are milking every day, usually twice a day. No excuse – you must get up and milk. You must be home to milk. Each udder must be wiped down, the teats stripped of that first squirt and checked for mastitis. Then you milk. You dip the teats and shoo the doe back out. Then the milk must be quickly strained and chilled and you bring in the next doe to milk.
So forth until you decide to dry the doe up which means careful watching that she doesn’t become too full in her udder which is painful and could cause issues. Finally, she’s dry!
And breeding season looms ahead of you again. Time to decide who is ready to be bred, who to breed to, and start all over again.
And remember…these are just the basics of breeding goats, and based on things going properly. There is so much that can go wrong, which I will touch on in later blog posts.