Nigerian Dwarf Dairy Goats

for people who love the littlest dairy goats

From "listening" to what others do it sounds like first breedings are usually done when a doe is around 1 year old.  My understanding is that goats are not fully grown until between 2 & 3 years old.  In other mammels it is usually reccomended that breeding is not done until growth plates are closed. Why is it " OK"  to breed goats at such a young age? Yearlings DO still look like young teenagers....just wondering what the reasoning is on this...  

Views: 2639

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

The longer I have goats, the more I dislike breeding does to kid at a year, and the less I do it. I have five dry yearlings this year and one yearling that kidded, and I'm wishing I hadn't because her growth is now behind the other yearlings. I was reading something recently that made me say, "Aha!" It was talking about all of these management things that would help you get does to kid at a year because you're losing profits with dry yearlings. My personal opinion is that this is one of those times when we're mimicking the factory farms, which want to squeeze as much profit out of an animal as they can, which means getting them to produce as early as possible. I've just recently been talking about not breeding yearlings anymore.

Could you share more info on why breeding other mammals is delayed?

In young animals the growth plates are  soft areas at the end of longbones.  Until growth is complete the joints are not as strong as they will be when the growth plates close. The extra weight of pregnancy is  stressful on  joints  and could causeing joint problems/damage.  Dogs are sexually mature at 6-12 months but should not be bred before age 2 due to the fact that they should have adult bodies to withstand the physical demands of pregnancy. I hope no one is offended if I compare people to animals,  I am an RN and worked for many years in Labor and Delivery.  Teenage girls have a much higher risk of labor  complications than  do women who are in their 20's and 30's.     So, I was just wondering why breeding goats at such a young age is recomended.  I bet you are right Deb, it is done to increase profit, and "because we can".  I read somewhere that breeding young leads to greater overall milk production..is that true?  

In DHI they keep track of lifetime production, and I wouldn't be surprised if lifetime production were higher if you add in a freshening at age one. That could be what they're talking about when they talk about greater production.

I've only ever had to take two laboring goats to the vet -- one was a seven year old that wasn't dilating, and the other was a 18-month-old that was having trouble because she was too small. So, ever since the experience with the yearling, I'm in the barn with a scale to make sure the does are close to 40 pounds before I breed them.

Although I am new to goats, I am also a RN and have bred horses in the past. I agree with Ruth and her questions.  For example, some breeds of horse mature faster than others and because their growth plates are "fused" they are ready to be backed (started in riding training) sooner than other breeds. Horses generally should not be bred before they are 4 because they are still growing and early breeding can hinder their growth. This does not stop a heck of a lot of people from breeding earlier, often without complication. If there are any horse people out there, then you will know I am referring to such differences as between, say, an Arabian vs. a warmblood. So I guess my point is...not only do the animals' overall breed characteristics affect their ability to withstand the vigorous demands of growing a baby and then birthing it, but the qualities of the individual animal must be taken into account. Again, I am extrapolating to goats, but if the doe doesn't look like she is close to finished growing, or if she appears  immature in any way, then I would wait.  As to the "profit"...in the wild, the doe would undoubtedly be bred as soon as she came into heat, whether her overall body was ready or not. But just because that is the way it would play out in nature doesn't mean that it is the best way to do things. Since domesticated goats are just that...no longer wild...it is up to us as their caretakers' to make decisions with the animals best interest in mind rather than our profit margin. And to the question of greater milk production due to younger kidding...nope, I do not believe it. Unless it is as Deborah stated, because the overall lifetime record of the doe was being tracked. But the stress of kidding and milking on an immature doe is not going to aid in increasing her milk production later-nor will it necessarily decrease it. Each breed, herd, doe and breeder is going to be different. Just my 2 cents. YMMV.
I would agree that alot of goat owners breed very young.  I have seen born spring one year and kidded that following spring.  I was very surprised.  I have decided to wait a bit longer to make sure that the doe is ready.  I feel like it's a kid having a kid.  I guess it is a personal choice.  I do not have any experience with breeding and would feel awful if something did not go correctly because the doe was not ready.  I plan on my first breeding experience this fall and will kid after the doe is 2 years old.

At least with my goats, it seems that most yearlings would equate to 12-13 year old humans giving birth. A lot of humans are done growing by 16. While it's true that in nature they would be getting pregnant on their first or second heat cycle, I've come to realize that nature is inherently very wasteful. All an animal needs to do is replace itself before it dies, and the species continues. If I let a turkey hen raise her chicks, she's doing good to get one or two to adulthood -- and that's on our farm with fencing around a chicken yard that's about an acre or two. They just loose them in the tall grass, but if we get mama and babies into a movable pen, they all survive. Same with guineas. Chickens are usually better. Long time ago on a goat group someone asked why NDs have so many kids compared to the Swiss goats, and the fact is that Boers and Nubians are also prone to multiples, and both are also from Africa. Someone suggested that NDs might have so many kids because they originated in such a harsh environment, it was just nature's way of ensuring the survival of the species. Rather than each goat only having one or two kids a year, they had three or four because their odds of survival were lower than goats in Europe. It's an interesting thought. I've been paying attention to other animals since then, and there does seem to be a correlation between odds of survival and number born. With poultry, the worst mothers have the largest broods -- guineas can hatch 15-20 keets, turkeys can easily hatch a dozen, chickens usually hatch only 6-9. Cows only have a single calf, and their odds of survival are quite good.

 

As far as younger goats recovering more quickly, that's not the case here. By six weeks fresh, most goats lose a lot of weight, and in my experience, the yearlings look the worst. Then you don't see much difference between ages until you get up to about eight or nine, and they start to look not so great either. I think genetics plays a big role in this too. I have a buck out of a doe that won the AGS national championship at age 10 and two months fresh. Right now I have a yearling whose dam is seven, and both of them look equally poorly conditioned at two to three months fresh.

 

I'm starting to think that 18-24 months is better for first freshening. If you look at size of the goats, there aren't that many that are big enough by a year, and I don't just mean weight. They don't have that much depth or width in their body either. Pat Coleby is in Australia, so she has completely different growing condition and different breeds of goats, so maybe they grow faster?

 

I've never heard of any research on age at first freshening as it relates to the goat's health in the US. Like the article I was reading recently, they all focus on getting yearlings to freshen so you can maximize profits.

I think I wandered around the point I was trying to make in the above post...which was that just because an animal CAN be bred early doesn't mean it SHOULD be bred early. Some breeders (of whatever species) may get away with it a few times with no ill effects but that doesn't make it the right thing to do. Does may be able to conceive before they are a year old....girls may be able to conceive when they are twelve-but that doesn't mean it's the optimal time for giving birth. OK...I'm getting off my band stand here. I have just seen so much cruelty and stupidity in the horse world, that occurred because it was always money, money, money (we won't even discuss the crap I've seen as a nurse). Everyone does what s/he needs to do for his/her own reasons. I have not read P. Coleby's book and I can understand the comment "that waiting to breed goats later in life is actually not very good." But I think here we're discussing the difference between breeding a doe at 8 months vs. 18 months which is really not that much "later in life." and simply gives the doe more time to mature.
Jackie, Ii appreciate your comments and agree with your point of View.  I am sure that the "later in life" comments are also correct--a "first" breeding of a doe who is over 4 years would also increase complications.   It is true that "If you don't use it you loose it  :-)   "   I plan to wait to breed my does for kids to be due when they are near  2 year old. 

 

I've been reading Goat Science and Production by Sandra Solomain, PhD. (2010) and just thought I'd share what she has to say on the subject:


Yearlings (12 months of age and older) can be bred. The proper weight for breeding usually is 65% of adult weight for cattle, but no benchmark has been established for goats and may differ with breeds.

Adult NDs usually weight about 75 pounds, so if we were to follow the cattle benchmark, we would be waiting until 50 pounds to breed NDs. If we did that, I don't think we'd ever see any yearling first fresheners.

I'm curious at what age these goats first breed in the wild in Africa, would that be a good standard to go by?  I have a friend over there whose mom has some African goats, I could ask him.

 

Nevermind, I just read Deborah's post which already discusses this =)

I didnt breed my does until just before they were two - the one that was covered kidded at 2 years.  She did great - and I waited because I just wasnt convinced something so little could benefit from pregnancy at that time.  The breeder I bought from told me not before they reach 40 lbs.  I also read that waiting to for that 2nd year results in the doe not being as productive in milk because you are a year behind.  Think that was the key to "production"  I started giving my FF Calf Manna as you suggested Deborah, and the change was awesome!  Actually I am still giving some and wonder if I should stop.  What is the benefit of a boost in protein?  My does look really good presently - with Goat Chow, little Calf Manna, Alfalfa, BOSS, and pinch of hoof/hair horse guard.  But that sounds a little hot.....
It's amazing how all of these conversations are going right along with what I'm reading in Goat Science and Production. Anyway, she says that by 3-4 months fresh, the does are usually starting to gain weight, and you're probably that far long, right? I usually just give the Calf Manna for the first couple months because they lose so much weight at that time, and protein helps build muscle.

Melissa Johnson said:
I didnt breed my does until just before they were two - the one that was covered kidded at 2 years.  She did great - and I waited because I just wasnt convinced something so little could benefit from pregnancy at that time.  The breeder I bought from told me not before they reach 40 lbs.  I also read that waiting to for that 2nd year results in the doe not being as productive in milk because you are a year behind.  Think that was the key to "production"  I started giving my FF Calf Manna as you suggested Deborah, and the change was awesome!  Actually I am still giving some and wonder if I should stop.  What is the benefit of a boost in protein?  My does look really good presently - with Goat Chow, little Calf Manna, Alfalfa, BOSS, and pinch of hoof/hair horse guard.  But that sounds a little hot.....

Reply to Discussion

RSS

Order these books on Kindle!

We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.

Need goat equipment?

2-quart milk pail


Mineral feeder (put minerals in one side and baking soda in the other!)

© 2014   Created by Deborah Niemann-Boehle.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service