The normal breeding season for goats is August to March, though some individuals will cycle at other times during the year. Goats are seasonally breeders. They experience multiple heat cycles during the fall of the year when the day length is shorter. The heat (estrus) period averages 21 days. The doe will be in "standing heat" (be receptive to the buck) for anywhere from 12 to 48 hours. Ovulation (egg release) occurs 24 -36 hours after the onset of heat.
Artificial insemination (AI) is a viable option in meat goats. Unlike sheep, conception rates from trans-cervical A.I. can be quite good. A.I. can accelerate genetic improvement and provide access to breeds not readily available. Ownership of a buck is still advisable for determining when does come into heat.
The gestation length of a goat is approximately 5 months or 150 days. Goats typically give birth to one, two or three kids. Quadruplets are not uncommon. Does should kid in a clean environment, either a well-rotated pasture or a stall bedded with straw or other absorbent material. Few does require assistance during kidding, though problems are always a possibility. Normal delivery is the nose between the front legs. A breach birth (hind legs coming out first) is also considered normal. If a doe has made no progress within an hour after hard labor begins (after the water sac breaks), her birth canal should be entered and the status of delivery determined.
Newborn kids should have their navel cords dipped in a solution of tincture of iodine to prevent entry of disease-causing organisms. If necessary, the navel cord should be cut to a length or 3-4 inches. It is important that newborns consume adequate amounts of colostrum during their first several hours of life. The colostrum or "first milk" contains antibodies that are essential to the development of immunity in the newborn kid. It is a good idea to "strip" the doe's teats to make sure the teat canals are open and the flow of milk is adequate.
It is common to wean kids when they are about three months of age. Buck and does should be separated to prevent unwanted pregnancies. If grain is being fed to the does, it should be reduced 5 days prior to weaning, to help prevent mastitis (infection in the udder).