Tater Meets Hansel
After a lot of research and questions, we decided this fall to do a driveway breeding for our two female goats. For potential dairy goat farmers there are three or four possible options for breeding your goats, and after careful consideration we decided this was the choice for us.
The other options included buying our own buck, which was both expensive and would run the risk of not being able to re-sell him (we do not want a permanent buck on the farm); "renting" a buck which has farm biosecurity issues and is also pricey; or using frozen semen which sounded complicated and had a lower rate of success. So, driveway breeding it was.
What is "driveway" breeding? Well, female goats go into heat every twenty-one to twenty-eight days, and they are in heat for between eight hours and three days. Exactly how long these timeframes are open depends on who you ask, but I think it is safe to say there is a lot of variation from goat to goat. It is during this critical window of time that a female goat will stand for a buck to mate with her. So, when you decide to do a driveway breeding of your goat that means you find a buck at a farm (hopefully nearby) and at the first sign of heat you pack your doe up in the car and take her to her boyfriend's for a quick rendezvous.
How can you tell if your female goat is ready to go? Well, sometimes you can't. There are does who show almost no signs of heat. Others are very obvious. I have read that goats are generally more vocal around this time, but our girls are both pretty mouthy so I could not judge by that alone. You should look for dampness under the goat's tail, which seems to be the single most consistent way to judge if she's in heat. Some female goats will act "bucky" when in heat (trying to mount other does), some will behave completely normally.
Once you have determined that your doe is in heat, as we did with Tater this past weekend, you load them up in the car with some hay to munch on and drive them over to the buck's farm. We used a buck from Copper Tail Farm, a small diary about a half an hour away that specializes in goat's milk fudge and other delicious sweets. Tater had a meeting with Hansel, a blonde boy with a strong dairy goat pedigree who was eager to see our girl.
The whole process of driveway breeding, to my surprise, takes maybe five minutes. There is very little foreplay involved, and certainly no cuddling afterwords. We brought Tater back home, unfazed, and now we will keep an eye on her to see if she goes into heat next month. If she does not, then she is pregnant. If she does, we'll take her back to see Hansel again. We can also have an ultrasound done on her to be certain, and to have an idea of how many kids we should expect. Since we are probably going to have a vet over to check the puppy shortly, we may opt to have her checked on then.
If everything goes well and Tater does not go into heat next month, we will be expecting kids from her at the beginning of April. Sweet Pea should be going into heat within the next week, and she will be meeting up with a dashing older gentleman goat named Willie Nelson. All this means that we will have a most exciting spring!