Sunday, July 10, 2011

Repoduction of goats

Goats reach puberty between 3 and 15 months of age, depending on breed and nutrition status. Many breeders prefer to postpone breeding until the doe has reached 70% of the adult weight. However, this separation is rarely possible in extensively managed, open range herds.

In temperate climates and among the Swiss breeds, the breeding season commences as the day length shortens, and ends in early spring or before. In equatorial regions, goats are able to breed at any time of the year. Successful breeding in these regions depends more on available forage than on day length.

Does of any breed or region come into heat every 21 days for 2 to 48 hours. A doe in heat typically flags  her tail often, stays near the buck if one is present, becomes more vocal, and may also show a decrease in appetite and milk production for the duration of the heat.
                                                    mountain goat
Bucks  of Swiss and northern breeds come into rut in the fall as with the doe's heat cycles. Bucks of equatorial breeds may show seasonal reduced fertility but, as with the does, are capable of breeding at all times. Rut is characterized by a decrease in appetite and obsessive interest in the does. A buck in rut will display flehmen lip curling and will urinate on his forelegs and face. Sebaceous scent glands at the base of the horns add to the male goat's odor, which is important to make him attractive to the female. Some does will not mate with a buck which has been de-scented.

In addition to natural mating, artificial insemination has gained popularity among goat breeders, as it allows easy access to a wide variety of bloodlines.

Suckling

Gestation length is approximately 150 days. Twins are the usual result, with single and triplet births also common. Less frequent are litters of quadruplet, quintuplet, and even sextuplet kids. Birthing, known as kidding, generally occurs uneventfully.

Just before kidding, the doe will have a sunken area around the tail and hip, as well as heavy breathing. She may have a worried look, become restless and display great affection for her keeper. The mother often eats the placenta, which gives her much needed nutrients, helps stanch her bleeding, and parallels the behavior of wild herbivores such as deer to reduce the lure of the birth scent for predators.

Freshening  occurs at kidding. Milk production varies with the breed, age, quality, and diet of the doe; dairy goats generally produce between 660 to 1,800 L (1,500 and 4,000 lb) of milk per 305 day lactation. On average, a good quality dairy doe will give at least 6 lb  of milk per day while she is in milk.

A first time milker may produce less, or as much as 16 lb , or more of milk in exceptional cases. After the 305 day lactation, the doe will "dry off", typically after she has been bred. Occasionally, goats that have not been bred and are continuously milked will continue lactation beyond the typical 305 days. Meat, fibre, and pet breeds are not usually milked and simply produce enough for the kids until weaning.

Western European-origin goats without horns (polled) frequently produce intersex offspring. These are generally female animals with male characteristics, and are infertile.

Male lactation is also known to occur in goats.

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