Goat Reproduction Mating Systems

Mating Systems

In most areas of the U.S., goats are mated once yearly in the fall, during their natural mating season, for spring kidding. Animals bred at this time are more likely to get pregnant and have multiple kids. A longer breeding season allows for flexibility in breeding and kidding dates to times when the climate is more favorable and forage is available for the lactating doe. In addition, dates of ethnic/alternative markets should also be considered in the decision about when to breed females. How long the males are kept in with females for mating determines how long kidding will last, but a 40 to 45 day breeding season will guarantee that each doe has had at least two opportunities to come into heat. The male-to-female ratio in this breeding system is approximately 1 male per 30-40 females, but in synchronized breeding, this ratio should be 1 male with 20 or less females.

Under range type conditions, bucks are often maintained with the doe herd throughout the year for continuous breeding. In such a system, proper health managment is difficult and only limited supervision can be provided during kidding. Care is also required to routinely remove offspring from the herd to avoid mother/son and father/daughter matings. Although buck exposure is continuous, kidding under continuous mating will eventually follow seasonal breeding patterns, depending on the location of the farm and the breed of goat used.

With advances in estrus synchronization techniques, artificial insemination, or AI, is being used more commonly by goat producers. Artificial insemination makes it possible to obtain or transfer genetic material domestically and internationally. Many goat producers, both meat and dairy, utilize AI to produce animals that are more desired by markets and consumers as well as animals that will do well at local, state and national livestock shows.

For much more detail information about breeding/mating systems see: Practical Mating Systems for Meat Goat Producers

Goats and sheep are both seasonal breeders, so the STAR breeding system for sheep may also work for goats.