Our Nigerian dwarf, Momma—named because we adopted her not long after she kidded—has been shaking her tail and following Huck, a Boer twice her size, around the pasture. Spring is almost here, and Momma wants to have babies.
Both of our male goats, Huck and Willie Nelson, the now-full-grown kid we adopted with Momma, are wethers; we have no plans to breed our goats, so our girls, for all of their bleating and tail-wagging, will not have kids on our farm.
We decided not to expand our little herd of five goats for practical reasons: The goats are pets, not production animals; we’re not selling meat, milk or fiber; and we have no plans to breed and sell offspring. Each time the goats are in season—or a farmer posts pictures of adorable kids—I reconsider.
Here are four reasons to breed your goats.
Does need to kid to produce milk. If you want to sell raw milk or use milk in products such as cheese or soap, you need to breed their does to keep the milk flowing. Staggering breeding allows for year-round milk production. Dairy goat breeds such as Alpine, Saanen and Nubian can produce as much as 1.5 gallons of milk per day and can be milked for as long as 10 months.
Goat meat has become more popular in the U.S. Raising goats for meat requires breeding to ensure the freezer remains full. Boer, Kiko and Rangeland are among the top breeds for meat production. Goats raised for meat are often slaughtered as kids (traditional meat breeds reach market weight around 6 months of age).
Goats produce ultra luxe fibers such as cashmere, mohair, angora and pashmina wool. While goats produce fiber throughout their lives, the softest (and most sought-after) fiber comes from kids. Adult angora goats produce as much as 16 pounds of mohair per year; kids produce about one-third that amount, but their fiber is longer and finer.
4. Breeding Stock
Raising goats to sell to other farmers is a less popular option because of the initial investments and uncertain market, but the increase in goat owners and the demand for livestock to show in programs such as 4H and Future Farmers of America can lead to regular sales. You need to decide which breed of goats to raise and work to establish a solid herd—this is crucial if you plan to raise show goats.
With that said, here’s a reason that should not be the main force behind breeding goats.
Yes, small, bouncing, nickering kids are adorable, and some hobby farmers who keep goats as pets decide to breed a doe once or twice to expand their herds or experience the joy of new life on the farm. Breeding without a plan can be disastrous for goats. Animal shelters and sanctuaries often have abandoned and unwanted goats available for adoption, and sites such as Craigslist are teeming with “free goat” ads. Responsible breeding is essential.
Hobby farmers who start breeding programs for their production herds must also have a plan for their offspring such as bucks born into dairy herds or undesirable breeding stock; does with kidding issues might need to be removed from the breeding program—or from the herd.
Before you decide to breed your goats, think through the reasons for wanting kids and make informed decisions about the future of the herd and the farm.