This morning we found Snickers, my son’s three-year-old Toggenburg doe, in heat. If you’ve never had a goat in heat before and don’t know what to look for, here are the clues:
- They aren’t as interested as usual in eating.
- They pace the fence line or gate gazing longing at the buck or in the buck’s direction.
- They call out more than usual. Some don’t call out at all. Others call out only when they see the buck. We have one that calls all day regardless of where she is, what she is doing or where the buck is standing.
- A cream-coloured discharge is visible exiting the vulva.
- Some act stupid and race around and do silly things.
- They aren’t themselves.
- The flag their tail, which means the stick it straight up and wave it back and forth.
- If there is a buck with them, the buck won’t leave them alone. He’ll give chase, smell her butt and stomp a front hoof on the ground. He’ll urinate on himself, all over his face and into his mouth. His top lip will stick up as he smells the air, and he’ll stick his nose in her pee stream. The noises he makes will be nothing like he makes at any other time.
We decided to breed Snickers today with Ellsworth, our 3 1/2 year old Toggenburg buck. He was born on the farm. Breeding goats is simple: just put them together. We prefer to use a pasture, but some goat owners use a smaller enclosed space. Once the goats are together, it doesn’t take long before things start to happen. Within five minutes, the doe is usually bred. Over the course of an hour, there are four to five interactions. This ensures the doe is bred. After that, they usually settle down to graze (or eat hay).
Often we leave the buck with the doe for the entire day but today, we separated them, so Snickers could join the other does in the open hayfield. It was a beautiful day for the first of October, and I wanted the does to take full advantage of the sunshine and the food sources in the field and in the bushes lining it.
If today’s breeding was successful, Snickers is due to kid on February 22, 2017 (give or take a day or two). The quick way to calculate the kidding date is to enter the date the doe was exposed to the buck on a gestation calculator. I used the one on the American Goat Society page. It’s 150 days for standard breeds and 145 for miniature breeds. Standard is automatically checked, so if you have a miniature goat, tick the correct box.
You can learn more about Snickers here.