that fit into this schedule as it makes feed (native vegetation) man- agement easier, the kids are more uniform at birth and there are fewer lightweight kids. The doelings must be more than 85% of their ma- ture body weight and between 16 to 18 months of age before they are bred (bred to kid at 2 years of age).

Breeding the doelings older gives them a chance to develop more bone growth (structural integrity) and will decrease chances of dystocia. Under our native vegetation management scheme, we ex- pect the females to kid a minimum of 3 times in two years (hot/dry climate) vs. annually (hot/humid climate). To meet these criteria, nutrition plays a vital role. We have to be sure that their energy requirements are met as energy is the major nutrient needed at this time. Without the correct energy balance, phys- iological priorities begin to change and reproduction is compromised. The amount of nutrition needed depends upon body size, body weight, milk production, physiological status and activity level. Stage(s) of production nutrition if pregnant: • First trimester – nutrition levels should be elevated to maintain

a BCS of 4-5.

• Second trimester – moderate energy and protein levels to el- evate BCS to 5 as fetal development is progressing. • Third trimester – obtain a BCS of 6 as 80% of fetal growth is occurring and maintain a low level of stress. Maintain high levels of energy and protein post-kidding. As

does dry off, lower nutrient requirements are needed. During all phases of breeding and pregnancy (and throughout the year) offer a free choice chelated mineral/vitamin mix and sea kelp (free choice also).

Energy Physiological Priorities Basal metabolism / Activity / Growth Energy reserves – Pregnancy / Lactation

Energy reserves – Milk quality / Milk fat / Uterine involution

Body condition score (BCS) is monitored before breeding, be- fore kidding and at weaning. The higher the score (1 – emaciated through 9 – obese), the sooner the does will recycle and the breeding season will be shortened. We like our does to be in a BCS of 6 before breeding. The kids will have a higher birth weight and gain weight faster after parturition. Because we kid in the brush, it is important that our kids are born strong, aggressive and double their birth weight in 14 days.

As the kids reach 7 to 8 weeks of age, the BCS of the doe will begin dropping to 5. Our kids are weaned at 12 weeks of age and the BCS on the does is 4 to 5. If the does drop below a 4 (cull), as it takes both energy and protein supplementation along with high quality for-

Reproductive Characteristics of the Doe

Cycle (estrus) length (days) average 20-21 / range 17-24

Duration of (heat) estrus (hours) average 30 / range 16-50

Ovulation after (heat) estrus (hours) average 33 / range 30-36

Gestation length (days) average 150 / range 144-155 Offspring – average 2 / range 1-4

age to get them back to a 6. It takes about 3 to 4 months and that means losing out on a breeding season, depending on the breeding schedule. If this happens continuously over a period of three breeding seasons, then the birth weight and growth rate of the kids is greatly compromised. Therefore, maintain body condition as it saves money over the long haul.

There are possible causes for reproductive failure(s) in the fe- male: nutritional and environmental; stress and trauma; toxic plant consumption; immunological factors; heritable factors; drugs; de- wormers and disease. You need to have a great working relationship with your vet- erinarian to evaluate the probability of disease. Possibilities can be: vibriosis, leptospirosis, brucellosis (melitensis), listeriosis, toxoplas- mosis, akabane virus, chlamydiosis, Q-fever, border disease (BVD) and others specific to your geographical location. Maintain a biose- cure farm/ranch to minimize the spread of disease. Reproduction is also affected by the readiness of the bucks to

breed. The does can be ‘flushed’ and ready to be bred. If the bucks have not been hot synchronized (using the “buck effect” a minimum of three weeks before breeding), then it will lengthen the breeding season, or there will be fewer does bred.

Evaluate the bucks 3-4 weeks before breeding season: select the bucks on conformation, stature and past production records; measure scrotal circumference (28-32cm) and firmness; and check semen quality using an artificial vagina or hand ejaculation. Reproduction efficiency increases ease of kidding management. If the bucks and does are ready to breed, about 80% of the does will kid during the first 21-day heat cycle and the other 20% kidding in less than 15 days. We begin checking heat 3 weeks before we want to put the bucks out. It is important to know what does are ovulating and how many.

There are possible causes for reproductive failure(s) in the male: epididymitis / urolithiasis / broken penis. The bucks need a high energy diet but low protein (10-11 per-

cent). They need to have a free-choice chelated mineral/vitamin mix and kelp meal fed free choice.

Before you begin sorting breeding groups and selecting the bucks to use on various doe mobs, review the records you have been keeping over the years. Selection criteria is crucial for producing the highest quality kids.

(Dr. An Peischel, PhD, is the retired Small Ruminant Extension

Specialist, Tennessee State University and the University of Tennes- see. She was the first importer of Kikos into the U.S. She can be con- tacted at

10 Goat Rancher | October 2020

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