Livestock :: Goat :: Reproduction Home



Age of attainment of puberty:

7 months to 1 year

Approximate weight at first mating:

15-18 kg

Age at first mating or insemination:

8 months to 12 months

Oestrous cycle :

Generally every 18-21 days

Duration of heat:

14 – 48 hours

Gestation period:

145 – 156 days

Age at first kidding:

13 –17 months

Ideal kidding rate:

3 in 2 consecutive years

Service period :

45 days

Minimum dry period :

30 days

Signs of heat

  • Wagging of tail. The frequency of tail movement increases in the presence of males.
  • Frequent bleating, more so when the goat is alone.
  • Excitement or restlessness.
  • Anorexia and lack of interest in feed.
  • Drop in milk yield.
  • Vulva becomes swollen and oedematous.
  • Small quantity of clear discharge from the vagina.
  • Doe anxiously goes seeking the buck.
  • It remains close to the buck and allows mounting.
  • It mounts on other goats and allows to be mounted by others.


A young buck may be selected based on the production performance of its dam and/or its sisters. Their yield must be 1.5 kg per day. Bucks should be masculine and virile with straight legs and long feet. Preference may be given to the one in the twins or triplets. Must possess good libido and good semen quality. While selecting male goats for meat purpose weight at 6 months should not be less than 12 kg. A buck should be put into service only when it is 10 to 12 months of age.
Age at puberty: 5–7 months.
Age at which kids of different sexes should be separated: 3–5 months.
Age at which training for semen collection can be started: 9 months.
Age upto, which bucks, can be used for breeding purpose: 6–8 years

Gestation period

Symptoms at various stages of gestation in goats

Stage of gestation




Non pregnant or before 25 days

No tension of the wall

Within pelvic cavity no hypertrophy

Located within pelvic cavity, no clear asymmetry of horns (slightly asymmetric in some of the does), harder consistency.

30 days


Within pelvic cavity

Located at pelvic brim, clear asymmetry of horns with softer and fluid filled consistency.

45 days

Slight stretching of the wall

Located at pelvic brim, slightly hard in consistency but no hypertrophy

Located in front of the pelvic brim, complete retroversion into the pelvic cavity possible. Clear distension of uterus, softer in consistency, horns distinguishable in some cases.

60 days

Stretched forward

At pelvic brim, slightly hypertrophied and soft.

Located in front of the pelvic brim, complete retroversion possible in about 20% cases, marked distension of uterus, fluid filled consistency, uterine horns indistinguishable.

90 days

Stretched forward

In front of pelvic brim, slightly hypertrophied and softer.

Uterus within abdominal cavity, only posterior aspect of uterus palpable. Internal ballotment of foetus possible in 80% of the cases, placentome slip palpable in 30%.

120 days

Slight relaxation of vaginal stretching

In front of pelvic brim, large and soft, difficult to palpate in 20% cases

Only posterior aspect of uterus palpable, internal ballotment of foetus possible and placentome slip palpable in all cases. Foetal parts and large placentomes palpable in 90% of the animals.

145 days

Slight relaxation of vaginal stretching

In front of pelvic brim, large and soft, difficult to palpate in 20% cases.

Foetal parts palpable within pelvic and placentomes palpable in 85% of the animals.



Sterility in males is a major cause as to why AI needs to be adopted and propagated in goats on a large scale. In Germany and the Netherlands the AI has been adopted on a large scale since 50's but it is also practiced in other countries. Normally a middle-aged buck donates 1 to 3 ml of semen, sometimes up to 5 ml. But semen quality is normally good when the volume is in 1 to 2 ml range. Semen is white to lemon-cream and varies in viscosity depending on concentration. Motility of good spermatozoa is greater than of bull spermatozoa, hence a different motility scoring pattern is recommended. The sperm count procedure is essentially the same. A minimum concentration of 2,000 x 106 spermatozoa per ml of ejaculate effects conception rate. Morphological defects are often seen with goat spermatozoa. Normally ejaculates with less than 10 per cent spermatozoa abnormality are capable of fertilization.

Sterility due to semen stasis and hypoplasis of the gonads is as high as 25 per cent. This situation is more because of overfeeding than underfeeding. High temperature and humidity affect the semen quality in goat - bucks. The reaction time varies from 63 to 160 seconds and there is seasonally. Though Artificial Vagina method is widely used for semen collection, semen of good quality is obtainable through electric stimulation. Buck semen is very sensitive to cold shock. Yolk — citrate-based extenders are widely used to extend the semen to 1:10 and up to 1:15 also. Spermasol with yolk (1:6 dilution) and sulpha compounds for antibiotics are used to improve the keeping quality. Speculum is invariably in use for AI. The conception rate and the number of inseminations required vary from season to season. One to four inseminations are practised. Conception rate of 93-1 per cent with 3-day-old semen in spermasol—egg-yolk extender has been reported. But normally the quality is not kept up to that time in many cases. Now frozen semen is also being used.
(Source: Dr.Acharya, Handbook of Animal Husbandry)

( Photo source : )

Preventive measures

We do preventive measures that will allow our animals have optimum growth and health performance with the minimum amount of our labor and expense. Each breeder must determine what is the most important preventive measures for their situation. The type of preventive measures taken by breeders can vary widely according to the following:

  • Category of goat business they are pursuing.
  • Type of geography where animals are raised.
  • Type of weather.
  • Amount of grazing space available.
  • Amount of time breeder wants to put into working with animals.
Preparing doe

The focus on management of pregnant does is:

  • to ensure the doe stays as healthy as possible throughout the pregnancy and kidding period
  • the kids are able to develop properly throughout the pregnancy.

The basic needs can be summarized into exercise, proper nutrition and preventative health management steps.


Preparing doe


Pregnant does need to continue as much normal activity as possible. They need the strength to carry the extra weight during the last two months and go through the labor successfully.  A doe should not come into pregnancy or the first two months too fat. The normal activity of walking around grazing should continue.


Nutrition is very important in the last two months of pregnancy. 70 % of the weight of the kid(s) is developed from around day 100 to the birthing date. Undernourishment during this period will result in the birth of smaller kids,  increased mortality and slower growth rates. A doe in late pregnancy has additional requirements from their supply of food, especially for energy foods. Also the uterus and its contents take up a large amount of space in the doe's abdomen so that she cannot eat enough poor-quality foodstuff to provide all of their requirements. The doe's body is designed to ensure that the kids get enough energy food at the expense of her own tissues. Her body will rob her own reserves to provide nutrition to the kids.

A doe's appetite often drops off at this time and the volume of the uterus contents and the internal fat stored will limit the volume of feed she can consume. Therefore the quality of feed must be increased. High quality hay should be fed during this period. Goats that eat a lot of hay during pregnancy maintain that ability to ingest increased levels of roughage during lactation.

Concentrate food with higher levels of protein can be fed to the does. You do not want to just feed higher levels of concentrate feed. High volumes  of concentrate feed has been associated with slow birthing and poor cervical dilations. We feed our pregnant does a concentrate feed with 16-17% protein level. Ensure the does have access to trace-mineralized salt and clean water.

Preventive Management

  • De-worm the does around one month prior to birthing
  • Vaccinate for Clostridium perfringens C and D and tetanus toxoid should be given not less than 3 weeks prior to kidding.

Signs of labor

We try to be with each of our does that are about to kid to lend a hand if there are any problems. We are with our does kidding 85-90% of the time. The only reason we are not with 100% of them is because they kidded during the middle of the night and we did not read the signs of eminent labor. If we see the signs, we will be with them during the middle of the night.  Below is some of the type of signs to help you better understand when your doe is about to kid.

Calendar - We do individual breeding of our does. They are placed with a specific buck when the doe comes into heat. We will leave the doe with the buck for two days and then remove them. We document the date the doe was serviced. From that date, we will start to closely watch the doe around 149 days from the breeding date.

Tail Dropping - As the doe gets close to kidding time, her body will start to adjust to allow the pelvic bones to spread out. Look at the back bone of the goat as it connects to the tail area. Either side of the tail bone will indent showing the body is getting ready. The picture to the right was taken 8 days before she kidded. This is not the best sign. It is not very specific and sometimes we just don't see the tail dropping.

Losing Plug - Our vet calls this "losing their plug". You will see a small amount of creamy jell leaking from the vulva. The picture to the right was taken at the same time as the picture for the tail dropping, 8 days before she actually kidded. We have seen small drippings like this up to 2 weeks prior to the doe kidding, therefore this is not a very good timing signal unless it changes into "streaming". Streaming will be discussed later.


Bag Strutting - This is one of the better signs for estimating eminent labor. The top picture was taken 8 days prior to kidding and the bag looks full but the skin is not a shiny texture like the bottom picture. When the bag is strutted, the skin is as tight as it can get and the skin will be very shiny. The dirt on the bag in the bottom picture is not part of the strutted sign. That is coming from another sign, "streaming", which will be discussed later. The bottom picture was taken 2 hours before she went into labor. The bag changed from looking like the top picture to the bottom picture in about 3 hours. We have had a few does that did not have a strutted bag prior to kidding. The bag filled up after kidding, but that is not the norm. When we see the bag get strutted like the bottom picture, we expect labor to be very soon and will start to watch for three other signs...streaming, doe going off by herself, and soft talking by the doe.

Streaming - This is an extension of the "losing the plug". The difference is in the amount of creamy mucus coming from the doe. This picture was taken at the same time as the "bag strutting" picture which was 2 hours before labor started. You can see the large amount of mucus streaming from the doe is what caused all of the muddy dirt on the bag. One hour earlier, there had been not streaming like this. It had looked similar to the "losing the plug" sign. When we see streaming like this, we expect the doe to start labor within 4-5 hours at least. We have seen does stream like this for several days and not go into labor and we get concerned when this occurs. Especially if the mucus changes to a strawberry color. That is normally a sign that something is wrong with the kids inside.

I want to be alone - When we see a doe going off by herself, we get our kidding tools ready. We expect labor within 4-5 hours at least .Especially if we have seen strutting and streaming.

Soft Talking - Another sure sign of eminent labor is when the doe starts baaing very soft. This is a different sound than she normally makes and much softer. She will also be looking back at her stomach quite often and can't find a comfortable place to stand or lay. We expect labor within 4-5 hours at least.

Pawing the ground - The doe will start pawing the ground like she is trying to clear a place for kidding.

Labor and kidding
In order to know if a doe's labor is going normal, you need to observe does kidding. The following are a general step that does go through in a normal delivery.

Initial Labor

One should have to identify the initial labor when the doe starts labor pushes. Do document the starting time for later evaluation if things are progressing ok. Watch the vulva during the labor pushes to see if it is trying to open up and extend outward. It is extended and opening up. There may be a dark colored bubble, 3-5 inches in diameter, initially come out and erupt with liquid being released. In some births have no bubble comes out.

Potential Problems

If the doe continues to have labor pushes for 1-2 hours and the vulva does not show signs of extending and trying to open, we consider there is a problem with the kid being able to come out properly. They may not be positioned properly or the cervix may not have expanded sufficiently to allow the kid to enter the birth cannel. It is likely that someone, (vet or you if you know what you are doing) may have to go inside to help. A vet may have to do a C-section to deliver the kids.

If the streaming mucus is or turns strawberry red color, there may be problems with the kids.There are several does have this and the results ended up being the kids were already dead.

Water Bubble

One of the first activities of kidding can be a transparent bubble protruding that contains liquids. This does not always occur but is a normal process in the birthing. The doe will go into labor doing pushes and groaning. This transparent bubble will start to appear. She may get up and down during this period. Eventually it will burst and the doe will likely drink some of this liquid. A similar bubble may come out with the kid inside. If this is the bag with the kid inside, you will be able to see inside the bubble and one or more hooves or a nose will be seen.

Potential Problems

  • Once this water breaks, you would like to see the doe proceed into heavy labor and showing signs of progressing to the next step within 2 hours. If several hours go by and either heavy pushing or signs of the kid appearing have not occurred, there may be problems. There are two possible problems:
    • A dead baby - The doe may have a dead baby that is not pushing to get out and therefore the doe is not pushing.
    • One or more babies are not positioned properly for birthing.
    In either situation, you may have to go inside the doe to try and help or get your vet involved. This was the situation with the doe in the picture to the right. This first water bubble occurred but no heavy labor occurred for the next 2.5 hours. At that time another water bubble appeared and then the doe went another hour without heavy labor. We contacted our vet and he suggested that there may be a dead kid and we should go inside to check and see if we could remove it. We proceeded to prepare for entry by using surgical gloves, disinfecting the gloves and the does vulva with Beta dine and applying OB lube to the hands. Entering her caused her to start pushing and we found a bag with a kid in it. We were able to pull the first kid and it was alive. We checked for others and  felt a foot that we gently pulled towards the outside. We could tell it was a rear leg. When we came to resistance, we felt around trying to find the other foot but found a head. We started working with the head and pulled another kid and it was alive. After that we pulled the third kid and it was alive also. We believe the second kid and third kid were blocking each other and until we started moving them around, they could not get positioned properly. We gave the doe a shot to help shed the afterbirth and we gave the doe anti-biotic shots for 4 days because of entering her. Mother and kids are doing fine 4 days after this occurred.

First Sign of Kid

The first real sign we look for is some sign of a kid starting out the vulva. The picture to the bottom shows a single hoof starting to appear. If you look closely at the hoof, you will be able to tell if the kid will be coming out front first or rear first. If you see the top of the hoof, it is head first. If you see the bottom of the hoof, it is rear first. Both are ok. We want to continue to observe the progress to ensure the kid continues to move outward. Don't try to rush in too soon to help. Sometimes it takes a little time for the progress to occur.

Potential Problems

No progress. We will step in to help by trying to help by carefully pulling on the leg during labor pushes. If you doe is not tame or gentle, this may be difficult to do. If she continues with no progress, someone (vet or you if knowledgeable)  will need to go inside to determine what is blocking the progress. It is likely that the kid is not positioned correctly as shown to the right.

Two legs and a Mouth

The picture in the down shows progress is being made and there are now two legs and notice that the tip of the mouth are at the exit. We noticed that both legs are front legs and the head is in position with the front legs to come out properly. As the head or nose starts to protrude, we watch closely to see if the kid has started to breathe on its own. If it has, we want to ensure that the nose area is cleared of anything that may not allow the kid to breathe. Sometimes we have a doe kidding and part of the head will start out and then as the doe moves around the head will go back in. We will watch closely for continued progress. Many times you will be able to see the kid's leg move around showing it is ok.

Potential Problems

  • Once we had two legs come out but one was a front leg and the other was a rear leg. It turned out that it was twins, with one coming head first and the other coming rear first. One leg was from one kid and the rear leg was from the other kid. We had to push the rear leg back in and feel around for the second front foot. We always wear elastic gloves for doing this and have some OB lubrication.
  • Two front legs and no head. The head can be turned to the side and unable to come out. You need to try and correct the position of the head.

Nearly Complete

The hardest part seems to be getting the head to come out. After the head is out, the rest of the body should come out quickly. We step in to check the kid has nothing in the mouth area and clear anything away from the head. We will watch for breathing signs and look to ensure the nose area is clear. The kid may still be in the sack and we will step in to get the kid out of the sack and breathing.

Potential Problems

Head and feet come out but no additional progress. We have had a few kids that got their head and feet out but could not make any additional progress. We had to call a vet to deliver the kid. It turned out that the kid's shoulders were hunched forward and not positioned to go through the cervix area. He had to push the kid partially back in to position the shoulders correctly.


We make sure either the doe starts cleaning up the kid or we will lay the kid in front of the doe to allow her to start cleaning up. The doe will nibble at all of the mucus on the kid normally starting at the head. She needs to be able to clean up her kids in order to identify with the kid. Cleanup may be interrupted by going into labor again with more kids. We watch closely to ensure she does not lay on a kid already born while she tries to deliver other kids.
Potential Problems

  • Kid crawls away from mother while she delivers other kids. The kid may get lost for a period and the mother does not get to clean it up. The mother may not believe it is her kid and will reject it.
  • Kid gets under mom while she is delivering another kid. This can suffocate the kid.
  • New mother may not understand what she is expected to do. You may have to ensure the kid's head is cleaned enough for breathing and if the weather is cold, you may have to towel dry the kid to keep it from getting too cold.

Welcome to the World

If all goes ok, the kid should start moving around trying to stand within an hour or sooner.

Rubber legs. We have had some kids that could not stand up on their back legs because they were so rubbery. The will normally correct itself within a week. You need to ensure the kid is getting the needed nutrition until they can get around on their own.

Next Day and Success
This was the first time this doe had kidded and she only had one kid. It was a buck kid. The doe is out of Magnum's Beauty, a Magnum daughter and was bred to Winchester, a full brother to Magnum. The little boy is named son of a gun.

First two hours

  • If the mother kidded outside and it is cool weather, we will move mom and kids into our barn with a clean pen, fresh water and food.
  • As soon as the mother has cleaned the kids, we will give them some Nutra-Drench for temporary energy
  • Next we will trim the umbilical cord to one inch and apply 7% Iodine to the navel to prevent infection
  • We will check the mother's teats for milk. There may be some wax in the tips that need to be removed to allow milk to flow.
  • We will monitor the kids while they try to nurse on their own for about 90 minutes. The faster they get their mother's colostrum, the better their future health will be.
  • If they have not nursed on their own in the 90 minute timeframe, we will try to help them nurse from their mother. We want the kids to nurse on their own if possible.
  • If they cannot or will not nurse on their own within the 90 minutes, we will milk some colostrum into a glass jar and feed the kids with a bottle or drench with a syringe.
  • Once the kids have had some colostrum, we will give them 2cc of Bar Guard 99.
  • After the kids have had colostrum and the Bar Guard 99, we will put them in a small doghouse type of  shelter in the pen with the mother. They can wander in and out but we want them to have some protection from their mother accidentally laying on them during the first 3 days.

Shedding afterbirth
The mother needs to shed the afterbirth within 24 hours of kidding. Most of the time, they shed it within hours. If there is some still hanging after 24 hours, you can try to "gently" pull it out. Some times the "gravity" has not taken effect and a gentle pull will remove the last of it. If you gently pull and it starts to come out without any "resistance", everything is ok. If not, you can give the doe some Oxytocin. This will help the doe shed the afterbirth and help bring in her milk.

We use to think that after a doe shed her afterbirth, she will not have any more kids at that time. We had a doe give birth to a single and then shed her afterbirth four hours later. We expected twins and she still looked like she had another kid but there was no more labor. We checked on her eight hours later and nothing was happening so we assumed she was through. The next morning we found another kid dead in the pen. It was the same size and looked healthy. The vet said it can occur and the kid born after a doe loses her afterbirth is normally born dead.

Goat nutrition
Generally, goat feed nutrients are divided into six groups. Following is a brief discussion of these nutrients:


 Protein is the only nutrient that contains nitrogen. Protein quality - a term referring to the amino acid content - has no significance in ruminant nutrition, except at exceptionally high levels of milk production. Rumen microorganisms manufacture their own body protein, consisting of all the necessary amino acids, which are later digested by the host animal.

Protein makes up the basic animal tissue of the body and is vital for growth, milk production, disease resistance, reproduction, and general maintenance. The body has very little if any excess protein. Mostly, the nitrogen is eliminated by the kidneys and the rest is burned as energy. Since protein is generally the most expensive part of the ration, it is costly to feed more than what is needed. Protein requirements vary between 12 and 16 percent of the ration dry matter with the latter needed for high milk production.

 Urea and other non protein nitrogen products can be utilized by the microorganisms of the rumen for the production of protein. They are not generally recommended for goats because they are very selective in their diets.


All discussions of nutrition seem to begin with energy, probably because this is the best defined requirement  of farm animals and is expensive. Most of the goat's energy comes from the breakdown of the fiber of forages, while the remainder comes from the burning up of concentrate starches and fats. Over a longer period of time effects such as retarded growth, delayed puberty, and decreased fertility will become apparent.
 Energy is measured in two different ways by the feed industry. The first and more established method is by Total Digestible Nutrients (TDN). As the name suggests, the TDN consists of the sum of the digestible carbohydrates, digestible protein, and digestible fats (multiplied by 2.25 since fats contain that much more energy than protein or carbohydrates). The TDN system takes into consideration only one nutrient loss - feces. For this reason, the net energy system is gaining in popularity. This system considers energy that is lost in the feces, urine, gases, and the work of digestion. In recent years this system has been even more refined to account for varying energy utilization needs for body maintenance, weight gain, or milk production. 


 Many minerals are required by the goat. Most can be obtained from good forage and a regular concentrate mixture. The major minerals of concern are calcium, phosphorus, and salt, which are usually added to the ration either in the grain mix or by free-choice feeding. Goats do not consume minerals free choice according to their needs. It is, therefore, recommended that minerals be force-fed through the grain mixture or mixed with a succulent feed like silage or green chop, if possible. The ratio of calcium to phosphorus is important and should be kept around 2:1. If these minerals must be fed free-choice, such as to dry goats and yearlings, a good mixture is one containing equal parts of salt and dicalcium phosphate, or a similar commercial mix.


Vitamins are needed by the body in small amounts. Since all the B vitamins and vitamin K are produced in the rumen and vitamin C is manufactured in the body tissues, the only vitamins of concern in ruminant nutrition are vitamins A, D, and E. During the late spring, summer, and early fall the animals can get all they need from green pastures and plenty of sunshine. In addition, they can store a good supply of these vitamins to carry them into the winter months.
Nevertheless, it is a good idea to add these vitamins at the rate of 6 million units of vitamin A and 3 million units of vitamin D to each ton of grain mix during the winter months as an added precaution since they are not very expensive.


Fats are of little importance in the ruminant ration. Practically all feeds contain small amounts of fat, and added levels are not practical. A level of 1.5 - 2.5 percent in the grain mixture is normal.


This is the least expensive feed ingredient, yet a deficiency will affect milk production more quickly than the lack of any other nutrient. Water is not only the largest single constituent of nearly all living plant and animal tissue, but it also performs exceedingly important functions during digestion, assimilation of nutrients, excretion of waste products, control of body temperature, and the production of milk. Ready access to water is important. Goats with water constantly available have been shown to produce more milk than those watered twice daily and over 10 percent more than those watered only once per day.
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