Signs your Goat is in Heat

Tis the season for goats to get busy. To ensure the arrival of baby goats in the spring it’s important to recognize the signs your goat is in heat.

How often do Goats go into heat?

Goats are similar to cows in that they will have a heat cycle every 21 days, give or take. Each doe (female goat) is different so you’ll want to keep track on a calendar any time you see potential signs of heat.

What does it mean when a goat is in heat?

Heat, also called estrous, is when a goat is fertile and can get pregnant. You typically have about a twenty four hour window in which to breed a goat. During that time an egg has been released from her ovaries and can now be fertilized.

If you try breeding her when she is not in heat, it will not result in a pregnancy.

goat kids wrong position rough and tumble farmhouse

How long is a goat pregnant?

Goat gestation, or the time they are pregnant, is typically between 140-150 days. Just like humans this can vary on either end. This means they are pregnant for around five months.

You’ll want to keep this in mind when breeding goats. I once had our buck get in with our doe in September which mean January kids here in Minnesota. For some folks that is ideal, but we really aren’t set up for that sort of thing. I managed to keep the kids alive and well but it was a real pain let me tell you.

Signs Your Goat is in Heat

Tail Wagging

This is one of the easiest signs to spot your goat is in heat. They wag their tails around just like a dog. Quick little flits back and forth. Apparently that motion really does it for the bucks. Like waving a red flag in front of a bull.

Obnoxious

We keep Nubian goats who tend to be a talkative bunch regardless of their heat cycle. Even still, when our goat girls are ready for a fella they let the whole neighborhood know about it.

My husband is an excellent help when it comes to telling when the goats are in heat because he complains about how obnoxious they are being. Ding ding ding!

Swollen Vulva

Between our Jersey cows and our Nubian goats I spend way too much time looking at and deciphering the state of animal vulvas. But, they can be a good indicator of heat. Pay attention to your goat’s vulva each day. Is it puffy and swollen looking? Then she might be in heat. If you are brand new to goats it might not be ab ad idea to take a picture each day so you have something to compare it to.

Discharge

It sounds gross, but when I see discharge on my female animals I am thrilled. It’s a sure fire indication of heat. Discharge will be a thick, mucous looking thing. Almost like a clear snot.

Standing for the Buck

A doe in heat will stand in place for the buck when he mounts her. If she scurries away from him then chances are she is not quite ready.

I had a doe once who di not have obvious heat cycles. My method was to every day let her into the stall with the buck. If she tried to run for the hills I simply let her back out and tried again the next day. Eventually she came into heat and instead of running from him she was all lovey with him and stood still so he could get the job done.

King, the handsome granddaddy of many of our goats.

Tricks to Help Detect Heat

Recruit a Wether

One easy way to detect heat in a goat is to keep a wether in with your does. A wether is a buck that has been castrated so they aren’t able to breed with any does. However, many wethers still get pretty excited when a doe shows signs of heat. Often times they might try mounting the does or will chase them around. Especially if your does stand still for the wether’s mounting attempts, you know you are good to go.

Can a Buck

This isn’t something I have ever tried but it is talked about in Storey’s Guide to Dairy Goats. They recommend taking a rag and rubbing it all over a buck who is in rut. Then you put it in a jar and seal the lid tight.

Bring that jar to a doe that may or may not be in heat. Open the jar and let her smell it and gauge her reaction. If she is very interested in it, then she may be in heat.

Again, I haven’t tried this “can a buck” option but it might be worth a shot.

Keep a Calendar

Most goats tend to follow a pretty standard schedule of being in heat. If you’ve noticed signs that your goat is in heat but you aren’t ready to breed her yet, mark it on the calendar. Then, make a note about nineteen days out so you remember to start watching for signs of heat again. Eventually you should be able to get down to a day or two of when you can expect her next heat cycle.

Options for Breeding

At our farm we keep a buck around to get our girls bred. The success rate is higher with a buck than with artificial insemination (AI). AI is a great option, but you will need to be set up for properly storing semen and you’ll need to learn how to do it.

There are pros and cons to both options, which I’ll talk about in a future blog post so stay tuned for that.

Want more goat content?

Check out all my other great posts on goats including banding bucklings, making cajeta, and kidding!

Watch and Learn

If you need more help noticing the signs your goat is in heat, here’s some video of our Nubian does showing signs of heat. Also included is some of our buck breeding the does so view disretion advised.

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signs of goat heat rough and tumble farmhouse

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