Some of you might remember our saga last year when trying to breed our ADGA registered Alpine goats. We dove into breeding them sans first hand experience after owning them for just 3 months, we relied on lab testing to confirm early pregnancy and went forward with all I’d read about prenatal goat management.
In hindsight, it really was just a live and learn experience for us like practically everything that is farm related. We were going back and forth about housing the goats, would the male and female live together? We’d never seen goats enter their seasonal breeding window and so on… To summarize the fiasco, our doe wasn’t pregnant and we’d realized this long after our window of opportunity for rebreeding.
We went a whole year without milk from this goat, ended up adding to our goat herd (twice!) to obtain a goat in milk and we tried again to breed the following year. In fall we had 2 bucks (male intact goats), 1 ram (male sheep), 1 ewe (female sheep), 4 does (female goats), 1 wether (a castrated male goat) and 1 doeling (a too young to breed female goat).
This time around we did a better job and spotting estrous cycles (aka heat cycles) in our females who all live together. We put the cycling doe with her appropriate breeding partner when she seemed to be cycling and I’m excited to say we have
2 3 confirmed pregnancies that are very close to ending. When I say confirmed I don’t mean in the lab. We confirmed pregnancy by watching for more cycling, watching their bodies change, watching mood and behavior changes and being patient.
Last week we were able to feel baby goat kicks when palpating doe bellies and I just felt kicks in a third goat yesterday. Now the barn cam is running and we are watching for signs of goat labor!
We are very excited at the possibilities! Having our Alpine goat in milk promises 1 gallon of milk per day and we will probably get about a half gallon from our two mini goats. Time to dig the milking stand out from under all the junk in our garage and get our milking area ready to go again. Another bonus, baby goats just add a certain cuteness factor to the farm.
What My Goats Taught Me This Year:
Nothing can replace good old first hand experience, be patient with yourself and trust the learning process. No lab test, book or person’s advice will compare to truly watching and knowing your animals so quit looking for shortcuts.
It’s hard to sink a major investment into something and to not get it right the first time around, which is why I felt I needed science and lab tests to tell me what I didn’t know how to figure out before.
It’s funny though, it all goes back to trusting nature – like my own experiences birthing my children. We don’t get to know or control everything but things tend to work themselves out when given the right circumstances.