I often get questions about how we prepare and how much help do the goats need when kidding. Spanish goats are known for their independence and hardiness and this pertains to kidding as well. If you get Spanish goats, you can expect a stress-free kidding season with barely anything for you as the owner to do. The does are known for their problem free kidding and newborns will usually be up on their feet in minutes following the birth.
We’ve rarely had trouble with our does kidding. Typically we will go out to the barn and find new kids bouncing around. The 2 exceptions were with young does who were having their first kid. On these 2 instances, they both had gotten in with the buck unintentionally, they were younger than we like our does to be when they breed, thus smaller body size and they had some difficulty birthing.
Determining when your does are in heat is exceedingly difficult. If you have a buck near the does then you will definitely see that the does in heat will hang near the fence line, flag their tail and be downright flirty with the buck on the other side. If you have weaknesses in your fence lines i.e. loose fences, gaps at the bottom, some does will crawl under the fences & gates in order to get bred when they are in heat. Some bucks will also jump the fences to get to the does in heat. Because of this, we have learned it’s best to have at least 2 fences between the buck and the does that you don’t want bred. More fences are better. On a daily basis we keep our bucks far away from the does on the other side of the property unless we are breeding. When breeding time comes, the selected buck for breeding gets brought near the doe pens and the selected doe gets put in with him for about 2 months, or until we’ve seen several breedings happen. He then goes back with the bucks, far away from the girls to prevent accidents from happening.
While we are on the subject of breeding, let’s address the age of when to breed the does. Each variety of goat is different but Spanish Goats tend to grow very slowly. We were told by Ann Wood when we purchased the goats not to breed the does before 19 months old, so that they are around 2 years old with their first birthing. Although a good guideline, we’ve found that if they’re a little older and larger in body size so 2 1/2 – 3 years old, it’s far easier on them. We watch their growth, if they’re smaller than we like at 18 months old, we wait until next year to breed.
We’ve also found that because of the slow growth pattern of Spanish, the bucks aren’t ready to breed until about 18 months old. Even at this age, they are not full grown and can have trouble breeding a full grown doe. I’ve also had my older does reject these little bucks. In 2019 our herd queen refused to allow herself to be bred even though she was with the buck for almost 3 months. I guess just not man enough? When considering Spanish goats I feel it’s imperative that you have enough space to keep your bucks separated from the does and that you understand that patience is your friend when determining when to breed your does.
How do you decide when to breed your does?
We tend to breed our does late summer to early fall so the kids are often born in late winter. We set up heat lamps in the barn for the does that are due, usually about a week prior to the expected due date. Pregnancy in goats is 5 months & what we’ve found is that if we see a breeding happen i.e. on Aug 25, we can expect the birth on January 25. This is all we do for prep. Nothing more.
If you don’t have a barn for shelter for your goats, as many people don’t, then you might want to control when the does are bred so that you’re not dropping kids in January. Breeding in November or December would be a better option so that they will kid when the weather is warm, eliminating the need for heat lamps.
Figure out when you want your kids born and count back 5 months. People select the breeding dates for many reasons. As mentioned above a lack of a shelter is one. We like to have our kids born earlier in the year while the weather is cool, and also this is the time the parasites are the least dangerous levels. We feel that this gives our newborn kids a couple of months to get really strong before the worm season hits hard. We feel we’ve had fewer problems because the kids are eating hay and experimenting on new foliage and are close to weaning. Plus, having kids in what is usually the most depressing time of year waiting for spring, gives us a real boost of joy every day. Nobody can be depressed watching those exuberant kids bouncing around.