In the competitive world of market goats, good management cannot be stressed enough. A few does here or there not getting bred may not seem like an issue, but keep in mind that an open doe represents money spent without any return. There are several factors that will affect the breeding status of your does. There will always be those few does that you never see in heat or that never seem to get bred. They need to be culled; no excuses. In this section we have discussed buck goat soundness, a very important part of the breeding equation. Lame or sick bucks don't breed does. It's time to look at factors that affect breeding from the female side of the equation.
Doe goats of breeding age should be considered production units. Costs incurred by maintaining or supplementing this unit must be balanced by a return in the form of live, salable product. In other words if you have to feed more feed, call the vet more often or give more medicine, you have to be able to produce more live kids to balance the check book. Flushing your does is one supplemental cost that should balance by producing more live kids.
Female goats are for the most part, easy to spot when they are in heat. An observant manager should be able to identify most does in heat by observing the females a few times a day. There are does that are nearly silent in their heat periods. Even the most observant managers may not be able to identify does in "silent" heat. Goats are for the most part seasonal breeders. This means that they do not exhibit heat or periods of estrus year round. Most goats are fall breeders and will come into heat during the months of September thru February. Does experience estrus or come into heat about every 18-22 days during that period.
Does in heat will usually display several signs to let you and the buck know that they are ready to breed. The doe will bleat as if hungry or in pain, driving your close neighbors crazy. She will usually wag her tail from side to side constantly. In most does the vulva will swell slightly and appear reddened. Some does will have a discharge from the vulva that can make the tail look wet or dirty. Does will often refuse feed or will decrease their consumption of feed. You may notice your nannies urinating more frequently as they try to let the buck know they are interested.
If you have a group of nannies that don't seem to show many signs of heat, it may be necessary to bring an old, smelly buck into fence line contact to force them to display. When a buck has been introduced into the pasture next door the does will tend to pace back and forth along the fence or stand backed up to the fence, allowing the buck to smell them. Many times one doe in heat will cause other does to exhibit heat as well. Most folks who don't observe signs of heat in their nannies usually only have one or two does. These small producers will need to be very observant of any display of heat their nannies may exhibit. I like to mark the calendar when I observe a doe displaying unusual behavior. Eighteen to twenty-two days later, I can usually count on a repeat of the behavior, a good indication she is in heat.
In addition to observing nannies, you can also observe the buck's behavior to identify nannies in heat.
The period of estrus or heat in your goats will usually last between 12 and 48 hours.