Goat Breeding: When to Breed Your Goat and Goat Gestation Calculator

Brown and white Nubian dairy goat kid

Goat breeding can happen on your timetable! This article talks about the breeding age for goats, the goat gestation period, understanding breeding cycles, and the importance of tracking breeding dates. .

You'll also find a handy goat gestation calculator below, to calculate your goats' kidding dates. (Click here to jump to the calculator.)

These expert tips will help you plan your next kidding season in this essential guide for homesteaders raising goats

When to breed your goats so they'll kid when you want them to

Goat breeding season starts in late summer and early fall. If you don't want your does to give birth in the coldest week of the winter, you'll need to plan breeding season and take control of your herd. 

Here's how to plan for kidding season and breed your goats so they'll kid on your timetable, not theirs.

Breeding goats on your timetable requires careful planning and management. 

Dairy goat breeding season

It's autumn and breeding season is here. My buck (the male goat) has been in rut since late June. His face is sticky and dirty and he stinks. And you don't want to know why.

My does began cycling about a month ago. The cool mornings and shorter days signal the does to begin cycling.  

I know who's in season: it's the female goat that's standing next to the buck's fence when I go out in the morning to feed, with the buck wishing he could get over or through that fence.

Most dairy goat breeds are seasonal breeders, such as my full-size Nubian goats. These does (female goats) come into season (into heat) approximately every 21 days from late summer until January or so.

Other breeds can breed year-round, such as Nigerian Dwarfs, Boers, Spanish goats, Fainting goats, and Pygmy goats. 

While I'm addressing dairy goats in this post, with a breeding season that begins in late summer, this advice still applies to all goats, no matter their breed. If you want your non-dairy goats to kid in March, you'd breed them in October. 

If you want them to kid earlier, so that their kids are ready to show when the stock shows and county fairs happen, or ready to sell when the market for goat kids is in full swing, you'd use that date to plan your breeding dates.

You have to breed a goat to have milk

Goats (and cows, and all other mammals) only produce milk if they are bred and give birth, so a dairy goat must have a kid in order to produce milk. 

The goat gestation period is five months, from breeding to giving birth (kidding).

Brown Nubian dairy goat with her newborn twin kids.

When should you breed your goat?

I like March kids, personally.

Some breeders prefer January kids, or winter kids in general, still others like fall kids. 

I prefer spring kids, born when the weather is more or less decent, but it's a personal decision. Every breeder has his or her own reasons for when they breed and when their goats kid.

My reasons include the weather and the fact that I no longer have a barn to protect newborn goat kids from the worst of the winter's cold. 

Also, I have an annual weekend away from home in the summer, and I want the kids to still be nursing so that I don't have to find someone to milk goats while I'm gone. (Wait, vacation? How do I do that? Here's how!)

So, with a five-month gestation period, I count backward five months from March, and breed my does in October.

Pregnant dairy goats

When can you breed a doe for the first time?

It depends on her size more than her age. 

Many goat owners breed their almost-yearlings. A friend told me she does this so that the doe will kid for the first time while her bones are still soft, and I see the wisdom in that.

I personally wait until the doe is about seventeen months old. I prefer to let her mature a bit more before she kids. Again, it's a personal decision.

Seventeen months might sound funny - why not eighteen months? My kids are born in March, and I breed in October, so they are 17 months old when bred the first time.

At what age can a goat get pregnant?

Several years ago we had an "oops" breeding. One morning when I went out to feed I found a tiny newborn goat when I wasn't expecting any. I had to check everyone's tail end and discovered that Lavender, barely a year old, had kidded.

I hadn't even known Lavender was pregnant, and I felt terrible that I hadn't given her any prenatal care and special feeding, especially since she was so young.

Since the goat gestation period is five months, Lavender was about 7 months old when she became pregnant. The buck kid that was in the pen with her was two months younger than she was, just 5 months old.

But I know goat owners who have had their doe kids become pregnant even younger than Lavender did. 

My best practice now is to wean my buck kids from the herd when they are three months old. Because I separate all the kids from their mothers overnight, the bucklings are used to being without mom and are eating hay and grain by the time they are three months old.

Lavender grew up to be just as big and healthy as the rest of my goats though, in spite of it all, and the baby was healthy. 

A Nubian goat kid and his mother

How long can you milk a goat?

As soon as a doe give birth, or "freshens," she begins producing milk. 

The first milk is colostrum, full of antibodies for the newborn kids. 

You can milk her to bottle feed the kids if you wish, or to relieve her overfull udder, and to get her used to being milked, but wait a minimum of three days before you begin consuming her milk.

I've found that milking her right away after she kids helps her to accept me as one of her "kids" - her babies - and helps her to think that I have a "right" to her milk. I don't milk her regularly yet, and I leave plenty for the babies, of course.

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When the kids are about three weeks old I start milking my does once a day. I separate the kids from their mother overnight, with their own hay and grain to nibble.

I prefer to have more than one kid to separate from the herd, so if there's a single kid, sometimes I wait an extra few days or a week until there is a "buddy" old enough to keep the other one company overnight. Then I milk the mothers in the morning, and reunite the moms and babies for the day.

The kids nurse all day and I don't have to milk in the evening!

If I know I'm going to have an early morning without enough time to milk, I just leave the kids with their moms overnight and don't have to milk the next morning.

Read more about milking your goat once a day in this post.

The accepted rule is to dry off a doe two or three months before she is due to kid again, so that she can focus on growing a healthy baby instead of producing milk. 

So, since I breed in October, and my does kid in March, I can milk my does from March until December or January, about nine or ten months.

The Rut

As soon as the summer days begin to shorten and the mornings are cool, the buck goes into rut and the does begin to come in heat.

The buck is, of course, determined to get into that doe pen. You need to be prepared to keep him out until you are ready to have the does bred.

Brown and white Nubian buck

It isn't as easy to keep them apart as it sounds.

My bucks have gone over the fence and through the fence. If they could, I'm sure they'd have gone under the fence too.

The portion of fencing that separates the does from the buck needs to be the strongest fence on your homestead. Make your fence tall, and make it very sturdy.

One year I redid my fences and put two fences between the buck pen and the does' pasture. If the buck got through one fence, he still wasn't in the pen with them.

Learning how to manage your buck and maintaining strong fencing around the buck pen will make your goat-raising experience much more enjoyable!

We've tried a lot of different types of fencing for goats. Read about our experiences - and what fences work and which didn't - in this post: The Best Fence for Goats.

The importance of keeping track

If (when) I went outside to feed in the morning and found the buck in the doe pen, I wrote down the date on my calendar. If that "fling" did end in a pregnancy, I'd know when the kids were due.

When the time came that I was ready for the does to be bred, I'd move the buck into their pen and they'd spend the winter together.

But I wanted to know - as accurately as I could - when each doe was due to kid, so I kept an eye on any activity and wrote down those dates on my calendar too. Pasture breeding can be more difficult to notice, but I did my best.

In the spring I was glad I did make those notes, so I could be prepared and watchful as their due dates came closer. I'd have my kidding kit ready and be on high watch when the time came.

Plan your breeding schedule

Figure out when you want your does to kid. Then count back five months and you'll know when to breed them.

If you purposely want your does to kid at different times of the year - for instance, some in the spring and others a few months later in the summer - so you'll have milk available for a longer period of time, you can schedule those breedings to fit your schedule, not your goats'.

Goat pregnancy calculator

Want to know when your goat is due to give birth? Use this handy due date calculator to find out!

The period of gestation for goats (length of pregnancy) is approximately 150 days for full-size dairy goats. Miniature breeds average 145 days instead. 

This calculator is based on 150 days, so if you are raising a mini breed you should subtract 5 days from the date given by the calculator below.

To input the breeding date (conception date), click on the calendar and find the date. Then click on "calculate due date" for the results.

That due date is, of course, an average. Your goat may be five days early or five days late, or even more. 

Goat Due Date Calculator

-------------------------------------------------------------- Goat Gestation Calculator

Goat Gestation Calculator

Enter the date of conception below to calculate the due date:


(Please notify me if the goat gestation calculator isn't working.)

Read this article for information on what to look for, to tell if your goat is ready to give birth.

You'll find a list of kidding supplies in this article.

In conclusion

By taking charge of your goats' breeding season, you can sync their kidding schedule with your personal and homesteading goals. Count back five months from your desired kidding season and then breed goats accordingly. 

Understanding the natural breeding cycles of goats and their gestation period will enable you to plan ahead and ensure a successful kidding season. 

Whether you aim for spring kids or want to stagger kidding throughout the year, careful management and keeping track of breeding dates is needed. Remember, breeding goats on your timetable adds convenience and flexibility to your homesteading journey while maximizing the benefits of raising dairy goats.

Take control and enjoy a successful kidding season on your homestead.

As a goat lover and a homestead gardener, I'm excited to also share my gardening tips with you - from planting seeds to enjoying the fruits (and vegetables) of your labor! You can find my gardening advice and insights right here, so let's dig in and cultivate some fresh, delicious produce together.

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When should you breed your goat? Here are several things to help you decide.

Related Posts:
Train Your Goat to the Milkstand
Goat Horns: to Disbud or Not to Disbud?
How Changing my Milking Routine Changed my Life!


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