It's getting close to a very interesting time of the year - breeding season! It's really all a mix of science and careful consideration, figuring which buck to breed to which doe. There are so many things to consider and I'll start by looking at this year's babies and see where we can improve on certain genetic traits.
It is desirable to have doelings, so first I will look at which breeding combinations brought the most does last year. We also want good conformation, good body capacity (room for lots of milk), well attached udders (longer lasting), good teat placement (easier to milk) and good personalities.
We have three bucks who we will use to breed eleven does this year. Don ChwAAN is our original herd sire. He's bred his share of prize-winning babies and he's a strong buck, with good physical traits. Our other two bucks, Rudolf Valentino (Rudy) and Mr. T. both came from the U.S. to expand the bloodlines. They're also hunky and strong in their traits. Four of our does are 'first fresheners' - which means they will be first time moms. Six are 'old hands' and the last is the Nubian, Feta.
I am milking seven does at the moment but In prep for breeding, we're drying up Eva, Emmy and Sheila.
Some people 'hand breed' which means they take the doe in to be with the buck when they know she's in heat. We let the bucks run with the does for 6 weeks - which means they will cover 2 cycles and gives the best chance of catching. We'll run the breeding in 2 cycles so that the births are also in 2 cycles to make it less overwhelming.
Goat gestation averages 165 days - or about 5 months. We'll breed mid-November and December for April/May babies. We think spring is the best time to have babies - warmer for the kids (and us) and buyers generally want to start their herds in the spring.
The Nigerians are different from most other goat breeds because they cycle year round. Most cycle only until winter and pick up again in spring. We're just figuring out our housing for breeding season. Besides the breeding does/ bucks, we have six kids - two wethers and four doelings.
Let me know if you have any questions about the whole process and hopefully we'll have some news of pregnant does soon!
*Photo by Judy Anderson