Goats/Goat Breeding

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Question
Hi there,

I am a fairly new goat owner trying to breed my two does. I have owned my two Saanen females for about 3 years now. The first year I wanted to gain experience with goat husbandry before bringing kids into the world. So last autumn (2nd year) I planned to breed them for the first time (both were about 2 years old at that point and neither had been bred). I had difficulty finding buck service and resorted to artificial insemination. I bought a kit and researched for about 2 months, practiced with the scope, charted their heat cycles and finally inseminated them just about halloween time, and was very pleased with how it went (paid attention to the mucous color/consistency, etc) and felt like I had gotten it just right. They had shown very minor heat signs the next cycle, but none apparent to me after that. I had read that one cycle sometimes happened after a successful breeding. I was absolutely convinced that they were pregnant until about a month after their expected due date. No kids. They seemed huge to me and I swore that they had been showing kidding signs for about a month. Maybe you could put it down to mind over matter. (Just providing this info for background).

So this autumn i decided to go the natural way. I saw the first heat signs for both of them right around halloween again. I purchased two bucks (an alpine and a saanen/nubian cross). I brought them home right after Thanksgiving) One doe (Lisl) had just finished her 2nd heat cycle, but the other (Greta) was right in the middle of it. I bred her to the nubian cross and have since seen no heat signs from her.

I expected Lisl to come into heat again about Dec 16. They are not housed with the bucks (I decided on hand breeding). Starting about Dec. 10, I brought a stinky buck sock to Lisl once a day. I noticed her flagging her tail on the 12th. I brought her to the alpine and she stood for the breeding. I have been reading a lot on the FiasCo farm site and tried to mimic their process, so I made sure I saw them mate 3 times (with Lisl arching her back). It was fairly obvious to me when it "worked".

Around Dec. 19th/20th Lisl flagged her tail again, but wasn't bothering Greta so much, like she usually does in heat. I thought I would bring her in to the alpine just to see her response. She showed no interest (head butting him, trying to escape, etc) so I brought her back. I tried this test 3 times on the 19th/20th with no change.

Dec. 26th Lisl began to show pronounced heat signs (tail flagging/bothering Greta, etc). I brought her in to the Alpine and she stood for the breeding very willingly. Again, I watched for 3 distinct matings.

Now, Jan 1st, Lisl showing just tail flagging. I can tell when the heat is pronounced because Greta acts annoyed  because Lisl has been constantly bothering her (affectionate, etc). So Greta does not seem bothered and Lisl is just flagging her tail. I brought her to the alpine just in case (i really do not want a repeat of last year). She seemed upset to be in with him, butted him once, but he did manage to mount her and I saw her arch her back. My plan is to repeat it the 3 times, but I am a bit confused. I have read a little about the cystic ovary syndrome, but she has never shown the short heat cycles before. And the mini heat around the 19th did not seem like a real heat, which would have made the 26th a regular length cycle. Again this tail flagging today doesn't seem like a real heat, but then he did manage to mount her. I dont see any discharge from the vulva, although it does look bright pinkish/red.

I know this is a lot if info, but I thought that it would be the most helpful. I really appreciate your time. I am so looking forward to the kids and the milking, I want to make sure that it works this time.

Thanks again!

Answer
Hi there - thanks for all the information, you're correct that it certainly does help.  Okay, so usually when a doe is having difficulty getting pregnant we first think it is the buck - is the sperm alive in AI or is the buck proven in that he has sired kids before.  Then we go to the doe herself - is she overweight or underweight - is she up on her selenium - is she otherwise healthy - do you know her dam's kidding history?  

Re the AI try - mucous color and consistency are certainly important, but the main issue in all AI is timing - you want to wait at least 2 to 4 hours after standing heat is complete (the doe would not accept a buck in regular breeding) in order for the AI to work.  The doe also needs to be in good health and at the perfect weight, not fat or thin, and up on her selenium.  The buck also must be in good health and up on his selenium to produce viable/strong sperm.   If the doe did get bred it is totally possible that the egg(s) implanted but then she lost them due to some issue but that her uterus assumed it was still pregnant and went on to may her look like she was pregnant but really not.  

Re natural breeding - the issues that Lisl seems to be showing could be due to hormonal deficiency possibly due to selenium deficiency, or if she is over weight the eggs cannot implant correctly.   The mid estrus tail wagging can be due to the changes in hormones in her system - whether she is or is not pregnant.  

If the does are overweight or underweight would remedy that now.  If the buck is selenium deficient which would also show as lack of luster in his hair coat or possibly even a thin hair coat would remedy that now.  Does Lisl look different in hair coat and body conformation/condition than Greta?

Re the arching of the doe after breeding, some does do that and many others do not - none of my does have ever done that.  What you look for in a full and successful breeding is that the buck finishes with a good arch on completion and that the doe does not urinate within 15 minutes of the breeding.  Three servicings are great if you can see/get them but are not always needed.  I have does who are brought to our bucks from outside folks having driven quite far and by the time they get here the doe takes one breeding and she is out of her standing heat and, that one time is all that is needed in a healthy/viable/well conditioned buck.  

Hope this helps - Donna

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Donna Ruelas-Semasko/Edelweiss Acres

Expertise

All goat health care, nutrition, judging questions about all goats - packgoats, dairy goats, pygmy goats, meat goats, fleece goats.

Experience

27 years health care/nutrition of all types of goats, 17 years experience in packgoats, 20 years experience in 4H goat projects as leader, superintendent and judge. 20 years experience in putting on goat care/nutrition seminars.

Organizations
NAPgA, The Evergreen Packgoat Club, 4H, ADGA.

Publications
Hobby Farm, many newspapers, 4H newsletters, Packgoat Manuals (youth and general), judging information pamphlets, seminar handouts about health care and nutrition.

Education/Credentials
4 years of college, ongoing education in goats.

Awards and Honors
Small Farm Award of Thurston County

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