If you are keeping goats for milk, you will have to breed your goats each year to keep them in milk. In order to get a successful breeding, you must be able to tell if your goat is in heat and during that time (usually only about a short 48 hours!) you must get them in with a buck to be bred. Goat heat signs are easy to identify once you know what to look for.
In our case, we don’t have bucks yet, so we are doing driveway breedings (just a quick 15 – 30 minute “date” with the buck, then back home) so it is VERY important that we catch the girls as soon as they go into heat. (Update, we now have our own boys 🙂 )
Walking the boys through will give you a DEFINITE yes or no if you are in doubt.
A few general things about a goat heat cycle before we jump into the actual goat heat signs.
When do goats go into heat?
Nigerian Dwarf goats will go into heat year-round, but will likely have the strongest heat cycles in the Fall. Some other breeds only go into heat in Fall – these breeds are seasonal breeders.
How often do goats go into heat?
A goat heat cycle is usually spaced out about every 18 – 21 days apart. So, most goats will go into heat about every three weeks.
A goat heat cycle only lasts a short time (48 – 72 hours usually) and they have to be right at the right timing in that heat cycle to be willing to stand for the buck to be bred.
So, you know that you want to get your girls bred and you know some general things about a goat heat cycle, but want to make sure you know what goat heat signs to look for. Make sure you decide which goats to pair up and breed.
Let’s review how you will know your goats are in heat!
Here is the list of signs a goat is in heat that we looked for:
1) First, start paying extra attention to each doe while she is on the milk stand.
You want to know what she “normally” looks and acts like. This way, when her behavior changes, you will know.
Some girls will get more friendly when they are in heat. Some goats will get more standoffish when they are in heat. We have seen some girls mount other does when they are in heat.
So, the actual behavior may vary from doe to doe when they are in heat. But a good sign your goat is in heat is a change in that does typical behavior.
2) Extra tail wagging
You have probably noticed that your goats will wag their tails some while eating, scratching etc. A good goat heat sign to look for is EXTRA tail wagging.
We weren’t sure that this would be easy to spot, I mean what constitutes as “extra”?
Well, if you have been doing #1 above, you will likely know what “extra” is. It is obvious that the does wag their tails more. They also wag them at different times like while they were eating their milk stand treat.
Often times when a doe is in heat you will notice her vulva (“lady parts” if we are being polite) will be swollen. By knowing what she usually looks like, it is easier to notice any swelling.
Your doe will likely have some vaginal discharge when she comes into heat.
You may notice it just on her “lady parts”, but it can also end up on the underside of her tail and tail hair.
5) More Vocal
Our girls are all relatively quiet (unless they are separated from the herd or wanting bananas!). However, during heat cycles, does will many times become more vocal.
We have one girl in particular who will literally SCREAM at the fence line ALL DAY LONG when she is in heat. This is a VERY clear sign your goat is in heat.
6) Wether detectors
If you have a wether in with your does, they may also be able to help you detect if your does are in heat.
Wethers (even though they aren’t in tact) will often start to exhibit buck-like behavior — curling lips, clicking noises, mounting — towards the does in heat.
Once your girls are bred, make sure you are prepared for kidding time!
Want to see a doe who is displaying the signs of a goat in heat?
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