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Goat breeding options

Grazing goats

It's time for us to cross another goat-keeping hurtle --- breeding our does. I was hoping to do this the lazy way, letting our buckling mate with our (unrelated) doeling this summer for a fall birth. But Lamb Chop didn't mature fast enough to do the deed before my self-imposed deadline, and any matings now would result in kids being born too late in the season to be safe.

Goat eating multiflora rose

So we've got a bit of breathing room to figure out a better way to get our does knocked up. For an early April birth, we'd need to breed our does in early November. Which seems like a lot of time to make up our minds...but probably isn't.

There are lots of ways to find goat sperm, which vary in dependability, safety, and quality. Honestly, Mark and I would prefer artificial insemination (AI) for our high-class doeling for reasons of safety and since she's a quality goat whose offspring could be equally high quality (if dad supplies the right genes). But we haven't found anyone local who can do goat AI, and driving a few hours to get our goat bred could be problematic if the first time doesn't take. (Success rates with frozen semen run about 60% with goats.)

Option 2 is to buy a liquid nitrogen tank and supplies so we can inseminate on our own. My understanding is that this would cost about $500 (plus ongoing liquid nitrogen costs), which seems pretty expensive for goat sex.

Billy goatOption 3, the simplest and probably cheapest option, is to find a local buck whom our does can have a date with. The trouble is that I'm working hard to keep our farm's parasite levels very low, so I wouldn't want a run-of-the-mill buck sleeping over and spreading his worms. (All goats have worms, and if you've been deworming your herd monthly the way most people around here do, those worms are most likely vermicide-resistant "superbugs." Doesn't sound good, does it?) And the bucks I've heard about nearby probably won't produce offspring that are worth keeping, which would be a shame since a daughter of Artemesia's could potentially be a top-notch goat. The closest milking-quality Dwarf Nigerians or Mini-Nubians (Artemesia's breed) that I've found so far are a couple of hours away, which adds another layer of complication to the breeding endeavor if I want to produce keeper kids.

Option 4 is to buy a buck, presumably one with good genetics and who has a clean bill of health. The trouble here is that our farm is small and our infrastructure is minimal, so we wouldn't really have anywhere to keep him. Granted, if he didn't cost too much, we could simply buy a buck in the fall, make sure he mates with our does, then eat him, which would lower the hassle factor dramatically. But high-quality bucks tend to cost high-quality money, making it less feasible to turn him into sausage after he breeds with our does. And there's still the parasite issue to consider.

Reaching goat

I'd be curious to hear from more experienced goatkeepers among you. Is there an option I'm missing? And, given our goals and infrastructure, which breeding technique would you choose? I suspect November will be here before we know it, and it would be great if I had our breeding plans all lined up before those fall heats.

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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I'd take your girls to their boyfriend and let them board for a bit. Bucks are a Nuisance, generally, and unless you have more than two or three does to breed, this is a lot less trouble all round. What is your worming program, by the way? Can't remember if you've mentioned it?

Comment by Julie Whitmore Sun Jul 5 14:20:49 2015
Granted, cats are much different than goats, but my mom's cat breeder friend used to play match maker for her other breeder friends. She'd host (for example) a male from Florida and a female from Ohio, and after six weeks and the pregnancy was confirmed, each cat would go back home. Maybe contact the place where you got each of your goats and ask about something similar?
Comment by Emily Tue Jul 7 09:50:58 2015
We buy a buck every year, keep him a couple months and resell him.
Comment by Jason Tue Jul 7 11:36:25 2015

I would go for option 4:

Purchase said young breeding buck with clean bill of health, let him do his wonderful deed, waiting two cycles just to be sure, then let him reside in freezer camp to fill your bellies with delectable goat meat all winter!

Comment by MCJam Tue Jul 7 20:07:30 2015

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