Conditioning is the process of getting your does and your bucks in optimum health prior to breeding. This process typically begins a month prior to when you breed (breeding times vary by geographical location). For example: Marc operates his farm in Boise and typically breeds late September  through late October, so he begins his conditioning process in late July/early August.

Conditioning increases the does likelihood of having multiple, healthy kids and promotes a better delivery. The process of conditioning is virtually the same for the does and bucks; the goal is to get the goats in optimum health.

Conditioning Process:

  • Trim hooves
  • Deworm
  • Ensure no mineral deficiencies
    • This greatly depends on where you are geographically located. Check with a local livestock vet to determine what area you are deficient in and treat accordingly.

Recognizing a Doe in Heat

Typically a doe will come into heat during the fall months (except for Nigerian Dwarfs). They will only be in heat for about 48-72 hours and the cycle will happen again after 21 days if not successfully bred.

Signs a doe is in heat:

  • “Flagging” is when a doe wags her tail excessively
  • Mounting
  • Overall change in temperament and behavior
  • Can become more vocal
  • Swollen vulva
  • 24-48 hours after they go out of heat they will have a white discharge. 21 days later they will come back into heat if they were not bred.

Facilitating Breeding

The most important and critical thing about the breeding process is getting a breeding date. This date helps you prepare for the delivery. There are different ways to facilitate the breeding process to be able to accurately get a date.

Pen locations can be helpful when it comes time to breed. The closer the bucks are to the does the more obvious the signs will be. You have to make sure that you have adequate fencing because bucks in rut will notoriously destroy fences.

One method is called “breeding by hand” which means when a doe is in heat you put the doe and a buck in a pen together. This ensures that that particular doe is the only doe getting bred by that buck at that time. Dave and Tracy use this method.

Another method is by putting multiple does in a pen with one buck and frequently checking in to see if there is any activity. Marc uses this method.

Something to be mindful of when breeding, is that bucks are capable of breeding as early as 3 months old. So make sure you have each goat placed appropriately so that you avoid accidental or surprise breeding’s.


There are a few ways to verify whether or not your doe was bred.

  1. Estrus Cycles (heat cycles): 24-48 hours after they go out of heat they will have a white discharge. 21 days later they will come back into heat if they were not bred. Be cautious of this method toward the end of the breeding season, the doe may not come back into heat if its later in the breeding season.
  2.  Blood tests: draw your goats blood and send it in to confirm. Drawing blood is simple and effective way to determine if your doe was bred.
  3. Ultrasound: Have a livestock vet come out for an ultrasound. These can be expensive, but they are a sure way to find out.

Gestation period

Once you have confirmed your doe was bred and you have your breeding date, you have about 155 days until the doe will deliver. A critical part of this process is document all the details about each doe because it will help you to better understand that doe’s future deliveries.

Testing for Disease

There are three main diseases that you need to test your doe for prior to breeding. It is important for good herd management. If you find that you do have a doe with any of these disease, be sure to take the precautionary measures to ensure the kid does not also become infected. There is also the possibility of a false positive in does that are not nutritionally up to par, so be sure to retest if necessary.

Caprine Arthritis Encephalitis Virus (CAE) is a viral disease commonly spread from a doe to her kid through the colostrum or milk. Click here for more detailed information on CAE.

Caseous Lymphadenitis (CL) is a bacterial infection that causes skin or internal abscesses. It can be transmitted from the doe to the kid through the mammary glands. For more detailed information on CL click here.

Johnes Disease is a chronic wasting disease caused by bacteria. An infected doe can spread it through milk or colostrum to her kid, but it is primarily spread through fecal contamination. Click here to learn more about Johnes.

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