It’s all been leading up to this moment, my friends. We got the goats, we built the barn, then we got some more goats. And now it’s time to (finally) breed the girls for the first time. I sat down with Judy Garland and Liza Minnelli and gave them “the talk.” But I wish someone would have given me the talk. Wait! No! Not THE “the talk.” The talk about scheduling goat breeding, what to expect when breeding goats for the first time and then the consequential cloud of goat math that has been following me around for the past few days. Yes there’s math. No one told me there would be math on this test.
First things first, we had to get a buck. We don’t have the facilities or even the need to keep a buck right now so we planned to use a stud buck for our first kidding. November 1st was our goal date for getting a buck in with our girls, but unfortunately, the buck we were going to use crossed over the rainbow bridge at the end of October. We were out a stud buck. Which really sucked. Weeks went by until we were able to transport our back-up stud buck to the farm. We borrowed him from our friends at Whistling Acres Farm. He’s a beautiful, stinky sweetheart that comes from great milking lines. So now it was the first week of December until we could get a buck in with our girls. This is much later than I would prefer. This means that if all goes smoothly this month and they get bred first time they come into heat, then they’ll kid in mid-late May (kidding happens 150 days after breeding give or take a few days). This isn’t perfect timing but I’ll take what I can get.
But the good news is that we have a buck in with our girls! It’s finally happening! This had to take some finessing with our goat barn. Right now we have four does, two little girls and two big girls. We had to separate our little girls, Babs and Lucy from our big girls, Judy and Liza, and the buck. Our little girls are just too young to breed right now. And we don’t want the buck to get a wild hair and start to look at them with his crazy buck eyes. So we had to completely clear out the “human side” of our goat barn to make it a separate area for Babs and Lucy. This means that daily we have to let Judy, Liza and the buck into the big pasture, close up that pasture, then let Babs and Lucy into our little pasture, then do the same thing in reverse at night time. There’s a lot of goat shuffling and maneuvering going on.
For the first week or so, Judy and Liza didn’t want to have anything to do with the buck. They kept their distance from him and were all like “you can’t sit with us.” But then something magical happened. Judy came into heat. Her lady parts were swollen, she was wagging her tail a lot and getting very close to our buck friend. And then the goat courting process began. I was able to witness the process, which is hilarious. Allow me to walk you through it.
During Breeding: The goat courting ritual as told by humans:
Judy: “Hey man, I know I was kinda being a standoff-ish prude earlier. But I changed my mind. You may touch me now.”
Buck: “Alright, cool. But hold on, I need to apply my manly musk to entice you.” Then he puts his head between his legs and pisses all over his face and front legs. “Alright girl, you impressed?”
Judy: “Yes, actually I am. You smell GREAT. Let’s do this.”
This is the part where there’s a lot of nuzzling going on between the two of them. It’s really cute, actually. She nuzzles him and is really loving his stanky pee face.
Buck: “Let me woo you, lady goat. I have great looking gums, see?” Then he does this thing where he curls his upper lip and really shows off his pearly whites.
Then he’ll start, like, tongue lapping all over her face and back. And then he’ll start blubbering like he’s talking to her, almost singing. What a romantic. And then he’ll paw with a straight leg along her side. Now there’s a lot of buck scent flying all around the barn. And she’s loving it. This courting ritual will go on about an hour before they actually do the deed (which only takes a few seconds). He was a gentle lover. Meanwhile, Liza Minnelli is standing alone in the corner, feeling like a third wheel. Then after they’re done doing the deed, she’ll tuck her butt under and arch her back upwards. I’ve heard somewhere that this is so the doe can pull the semen into her. I’m not sure. But it’s normal behavior. Then after they do the deed, they’ll repeat the courting process over again. And this went on ALL. DAY. But by the end of the day, I could pretty much be sure that she was good and bred. All that we have to do now is to wait 21 days to see if she comes back into heat. If she doesn’t, then we can count on goat babies in May!
At this point in my farming experience, I can probably describe almost every single farm animal wang and that animal’s breeding style. I should write a children’s book someday. Maybe not.
But now comes a whole other series of questions and planning… and math. Goat math and genetics. Stuff I learned in high school biology was actually coming into play. And with one day of breeding, I was already planning out the next two years of our little goat herd. StickÂ with me on this.
Like I said earlier, it will be 150 days (give or take a few days) from breeding to kidding. Since we’ll have two first fresheners (FF), we can’t expect them to be lean, mean, high quantity milk machines their first go around. Usually goats will be better producers their second freshening. Also, since we bred them late, they’ll be kidding later in the kidding season, May 2015. For their second freshening, we’d like to have a longer milking season which means that we will need to breed them earlier next fall. Hopefully this means breeding in October/November 2015. This means that we’ll only be milking them for 5-6 months. That’s not a whole lot of time, but since it’s their first freshening I think it will be ok. At least that’s what I’m telling myself. We’ll milk from May-October/November then dry them off and breed them again to have a real deal milking season in 2016. Also, I’ve never milked anything before in my life so maybe it’s all going to work out for the best to ease ourselves into the joys of milking goats.
When Judy and Liza (hopefully) give us beautiful babies this May, we’ll probably retain all of them since they’ll be the first kids born on the farm. But I have the bottle baby blues again. I want to bottle feed something again and I’m trying reallyÂ hard to not buy a bottle baby this winter. I have to keep telling myself that we have four goats now, and that could very possibly turn into six to eight goats this May. And that will be enough for now. Right? …right? Someone please talk me out of this. And next season we’ll have Babs ready to be bred. Which means we’ll have three girls in milk in 2016. Then Judy and Liza’s first babies will be ready to be bred in fall 2016. And then before you know it, we have 20 dairy goats climbing all over everything, including myself, and we will need to eventually build a micro-creamery. (My dream!)
Next breeding season (Fall 2015), we’d like to have our own buck to breed our dairy girls. I’ve been researching breeders to make sure that we get a really awesome buck. Since he’s going to be half of our herd, it pays to put in the time and effort to make sure you have the perfect one. But the facility that we’d like to ultimately keep him in is currently holding our barrows. The pigs have really torn up that pasture this year so we’ll have to allow enough time for the pasture to heal and re-grow before we put a buck in there full time. To be safe, we will probably use another stud next fall so that our pasture will have time to be goat ready. Oh well, maybe the following spring I’llÂ have my own stinky sweetheart. Besides Farmer Dave 🙂