If you raise goats you will more likely want to breed them. Whether you breed them for meat, milk, or simply for pets it is important to know a goat’s gestation period. The gestation of goats will vary depending on the breed. In today’s post we will go over the types of goats and how long their gestation period is!
When we first started raising goats a few years ago, we quickly learned that they multiply fairly quickly. Which was one of the reasons I loved them so much. Not only that but the delicious raw goat’s milk we get from them. Cows have a gestation period of 9 months similar to humans, while we love our cows, waiting for a calf can feel so far away. Goats have a gestation period of around 5 months but each breed will vary in the amount of days. It’s important to know exactly which breed you have so that you can know when to expect those cute baby goats to hit the ground. You’ll also want to make sure you have your baby goat checklist so that you are well prepare for their cuteness.
Why Raise Goats?
Many people like to raise goats simply for the companionship they offer. Goats are such unique animals and really can be so personal. I personally fell in love with their personalities and love how sweet they are. I prefer my goats over a dog any day (hear me out). As a family, we love that our goats have a purpose on our farm. While they are cute and friendly, they are here to provide our family with the highest quality milk we can find. We know exactly what they’re fed and how they are taken care of. We herbal deworm and give essential oils to ensure the highest quality care. They truly are apart of our family and we treat them extra special. When we aren’t drinking their milk, we’re making raw goats milk soap to nourish our bodies with the best possible ingredients. What more could we ask for? Our goats have blessed us with more than we ever expected (all glory to God of course).
Raising Goats For Food
Aside from raising goats for raw milk, many will raise them for meat. While it’s sad to even think about, we have to get our meat from somewhere. While we have never harvested any of our goats but we are not afraid to raise a whether or buck to have meat for our family in the future. Knowing where your food comes from is one of the most important things, especially now a day! We currently raise rabbits for meat but hope to get meat from our goats one day.
Raising Goats As Pets
If they’re not for milk or meat, they are usually pets. They make the best pets since you can make them super friendly very quickly. Some goats can be very skittish but for the most part if a goat is well taken care of and bonded to a human, you have a friend for life. Most find the Nigerian dwarf goats or pygmy goats to be the best pets. Since they are small and very spunky (and I put a lot of stress on the very spunky part haha!). We had several Nigerians before and loved their personalities for sure.
Different Breeds and Their Gestation Period
Alpine’s are a larger dairy breed and have a very mild friendly personality. Their gestation is anywhere from 145-155 days Typically 150 is average.
Nubians are a larger dairy breed and have a very calm personality. We have two full size Nubians and love how calm they are. Their gestation is anywhere between 145-155 days. Usually 150.
Mini nubians are a mix between a Nubian and Nigerian dwarf. We raise mini nubians and love their calm but spunky personality. We also enjoy the amount of milk we get from them since they are smaller than a full size Nubian but a bigger than a Nigerian dwarf. Their gestation is anywhere from 145-155 I have seen mine go more towards 150 days
Nigerian dwarfs like mentioned above are spunky little creatures. We found them to have very naughty but funny personalities. Some were sweet but boy oh boy some were sour haha! A Nigerian’s gestation period is anywhere from 145-150 days. Usually closer to 145
We only had one pygmy goat a few years ago when we first started raising goats. She was a very feisty little thing, but I cannot speak for all pygmy goats. I’m sure there are a lot of friendly pygmy goats out there. Pygmy’s gestation period is similar to a Nigerian dwarf, 145-150 days. Closer to 145.
Lamancha’s are also said to have very calm personalities but I cannot confirm since I’ve never had one. Lamancha’s have a gestation period of 145-155 days
Toggenburg goats have a rather odd gestation period. Unlike most goats they have a gestation period of 175 days. I’m not sure why their gestation period is so different but I’m sure waiting the extra days can make it seem unbearable! I cannot imagine waiting even longer for those sweet goat kids.
Saanen goats are white dairy goats who are said to yield a lot of milk. Their gestation period is anywhere from 148-156 days.
Boer goats are meat goats and their gestation ranges anywhere from 145-152 days.
Kiko goats are also a type of meat goat. They are known for their parasite resistance and Kiko’s gestation period ranges anywhere from 145-155 days.
As you can see the gestation period is 5 months but the amount of days will vary depending on the breed of goat. It’s best to be familiar with your breed so that you can keep a close eye on your doe in the last months of pregnancy. The bigger the goat breed usually the longer gestation times. This is especially important for new goat owners who may not be familiar with goat pregnancy. We always like to be present when our goats are breeding so we can know the goat’s due date. This takes away the guessing and gives you a peace of mind knowing when to expect babies. In rare occasions, like if you purchased a goat pregnant, you may not know an exact due date. I would just watch for signs of labor such as, udder filling up, babies dropping, tail ligaments gone, vaginal discharge, and swollen vulva.
When Is It Best To Breed Goats?
Now that we know the gestation period of goats it’s important to know when to breed them. A lot of goats are seasonal breeders and can only be bred in the late summer through early winter. Most standard breed goats like Nubians, alpine, mini nubians, lamancha, saanen, and toggenburg are all seasonal breeders. While other goats are year around breeders, they don’t necessarily have a breeding season. These include most meat goats and miniature breeds, Boer, Kiko, Spanish, fainting, pygmy and nigerian dwarfs. Nigerians aren’t meat goats but still breed year around.
In regards to year around breeders, I will say there is a specific time of the year you will not want to breed them. This is mainly because babies aren’t able to properly regulate their body temperature the first 24-48 hours of life. So it is ideal to breed your does in the late spring or mid-late fall. Since their gestation length is 5 months they will give birth either in the early spring or mid to late fall. I personally can attest that these are the best times to breed for all breeds. If you breed in the summer, you can end up with a doe giving birth in the freezing cold. I can tell you from experience that is not fun. If you breed in the late winter or early spring, you can end up with summer babies. While it is possible, both would not be ideal.
Breeding A Goat At The Right Time
It’s also important to be mindful of the pregnant does body, it’s not ideal for them to be 5 months pregnant in the heat of summer. We actually had one doe pregnant during summer and I felt so bad for her because she would breathe really heavily. I try to breed so the does won’t be too far along in the summer. Do what you feel is best for your doe’s body though, every area is different so summers may not be too bad where you live! You will know what’s the best time for your region of the country.
How Old To Breed Goats?
For miniature breeds you want to make sure they are at least 7-8 months of age and weigh 45-50 pounds before breeding. I also like to pay close attention to a does body condition. You can look at a young does body and tell whether or not if she can handle it. I find if they are nice and wide and reach the required weight they are good for breeding. They reach sexual maturity around 4 months old whereas a young buck reaches sexual maturity much younger. Usually bucks will start acting Bucky around 2-6 weeks old, I’ve seen my young bucks extend starting at 6 weeks old before. They are very determined little creatures!
For standard breed you want them at least 8 months old weighing at least 80 pounds! Again, check their body condition and make sure they also look ready. This is also a great time to assess the doe for parasites, you want to make sure her famacha score looks good and she doesn’t have a high worm load. You’ll want to deworm with either herbs or the proper chemicals after you get a fecal count to determine the parasites you’re dealing with. This will ensure the doe is healthy and ready for pregnancy. Before breeding, it’s also great to give selenium & vitamin E as well as checking for copper deficiencies.
Don’t forget to use a good goat gestation calculator when you do start breeding. This will let you know which date your doe will be due after breeding!
How To Know If My Goat Is Pregnant
The most accurate way to know if your doe is pregnant is a blood test. You can send blood samples into a lab such as UBRL or Waddle and they will confirm whether or not your doe is pregnant. You’ll want to test 30 days after the breeding date. Read more on how to test your goats here!
I’ve seen other goat breeders do a goat urine pregnancy test but I can confirm they are not accurate. We sold a doe who was bred by our buck, we didn’t do a blood test but noticed she did not come back into heat and also dropped in her milk production so we knew she was pregnant. The buyers we sold her too ended up testing her with a urine test and it came back negative but 5 months later the doe ended up delivering on the due date we had written down. So I would always trust a blood sample before a urine test.
You can also check for signs of a returning heat cycle. If they don’t come back into heat they are more than likely pregnant! Some goats can have a false pregnancy so I like to watch for two heat cycles to make sure they are good and pregnant and don’t come back into heat. it will also be fairly obvious when their bellies start to get bigger. The right side will start to pop out a lot more as the baby grows. You’ll also notice at the end of pregnancy the udder will begin to fill and the vulva will look more swollen. These are all signs your goat is indeed pregnant and close to delivering! In no time you will have sweet baby goats to love on.
Do you currently have pregnant goats? I’d love to hear when they are due! Share with me in the comments below.