JOINING – Joining is the mating of one animal to another. Normally, the buck/doe ratio should be between 1:25 and 1:50. A buck should not be expected to breed more than 50 does in a six-week period. Keeping the ratios low will allow the buck to do his work quickly, resulting in a kidding season that is compressed into a 6-week period, five months later. This will also shorten the combing season.
Beginning in late August to early September, does with sufficient stored body fat will cycle every 18 to 21 days and will remain receptive to the buck for 2 to 3 days. Goats are seasonally poly-estrus, meaning they will cycle regularly for six months. If they remain unbred by the end of that time period, usually in late January, they will stop cycling until the following August. If during the summer the does are not exposed to bucks at all, meaning the bucks are out of earshot and more importantly, the does are not able to smell them, the sudden introduction of bucks to a group of does that have not yet begun to cycle will stimulate them to naturally synchronize themselves. Then they will all cycle within three days. Keeping the bucks apart from the does for the first two days will stimulate the bucks to greater semen production. Does bred to bucks that are not allowed to “warm-up” will have lower fertility rates and may not be successfully bred the first cycle due to the presence of immature sperm.
A more challenging feat would be to keep the cycling does and the freshly introduced bucks apart for one month, breeding the does the second time they cycle, instead of the first. Does will naturally ovulate more eggs during their second cycle than during their first resulting in a higher percentage of twins. If a vasectomized or “teaser” buck, one whose epididymus has been severed, but the testicles retained, is available, he can be used to stimulate the does to synchronized cycling. He can then be left in with the does to keep them happy until it is time to put in fertile bucks. However, if the does’ condition is not good enough to enable her to carry twins to term, she should be bred during her first cycle to bucks that have been warmed-up. In Mongolia, bibs are used to physically prevent mature bucks from breeding does out-of-season. This method can be ineffective if close watch is not kept on the condition of the bib. The bib itself is made of heavily woven materials and is suspended around the buck’s midsection.
Nutrition in the weeks preceding joining is very important. Last years’ kids should be weaned and removed from the doe so she can dry up and put all her energy into building fat reserves and ovulation. A doe that is in good shape when bred is more likely to have multiple ovulations than one that is in poor condition. Giving the does extra feed in the weeks before joining is called “flushing”. In areas where extra feed is not available, joining should occur at the time of year immediately after the most productive season for native grass production. Bucks should be removed from the doe herd or bibbed after two months of joining. Does that have not settled by then are probably too stressed to carry kids to term especially if the buck:doe ratio is low. Additionally, does bred in December will not kid until May and wean until September, giving them no time to recover their resources and begin a new cycle with enough fat to successfully breed and kid the next year.