In order for desired traits or characteristics to be achieved, certain husbandry practices have to be carried out. This include: body condition of the animals, correctly recognizing the signs of heat and rut, mating conditions, parasite infestation, vaccination status, hoof condition, weaning of older kids and newborn nutrition which are all important aspects of breeding to consider when creating the best environment for reproduction.
1. Body Condition
In farm animals, the term fleshing refers to the overall body condition of the animal. Factors that can result in poor body condition include late kidding of twins and triplets, poor quality of pasture grasses and worm infestation.
- Apart from noticing an obviously thin or overweight animal, determining an animal’s body condition takes hands on practice. When learning how to determine body condition in goats, practice should first take place by feeling the bodies of obviously thin and overweight animals.
- Knowing the feel for the extreme conditions helps the breeder to learn what is moderate. The most obvious places on the animal to determine fleshing are over the ribs and on either side of the spine. More practiced hands can detect body condition in less obvious areas such as the backbone, the hooks, the loin edges, the tail heads and the pins.
- When breeders observe fleshing well before breeding season, there should be ample time to correct any problems. Does that are too thin will produce less twins and triplets and maintain lower weaning rates. Whereas overweight does usually do not present with problems except for an occasional case of toxemia. Preparing an underweight doe for successful breeding begins one month before she goes into heat.
After breeders develop a feel for their animal’s condition, it is important to frequently monitor the goats and adjust feeding amounts accordingly. Flushing, or increasing the animal’s dietary intake begins at this time. Methods of augmenting a doe’s diet include moving her to a more productive pasture, adding corn and cotton seed to the food supply and daily administering a high energy supplement.
2. Parasite infestation
- Goats that have a significant worm infestation are not in good condition for breeding. Signs of worm infestation are a thin appearance with an inability to gain weight and rough hair.
- An optimal time to deworm both males and females is before the onset of breeding season. Deworming does in the first 60 days of pregnancy is risky and may cause the fetuses to abort.
- Near the time of kidding, the hormonal changes in the doe create an environment conducive to worm egg production. Because of this, does should be dewormed two to three weeks before kidding to prevent the spread to other animals.
- Enterotoxemia/pulpy kidney (diphilo) and tetanus (kitlano ya ditlhaa) vaccines should be administered to the animals to ensure a healthy breeding flock. Bucks are vaccinated yearly and Does are administered the vaccine approximately five weeks before kidding to allow the immunity to be passed to the kids.
- Vaccinate for pasteurella (madi) and maintain the annual booster vaccine regime, in high risk areas it should be done twice a year before onset of dry/rainy season.
- Heartwater (metsi a pelo, semee) should also be vaccinated against in areas where it is prominent especially on new breeding stock obtained elsewhere and about to be included in the breeding pool.
4. Trimming the Hooves
- Poorly maintained hooves in goats can be a great impediment to breeding. The animals are often unable to move well and limp. A doe that is limping may refuse to mate and bucks with hoof problems experience less mating or none at all.