In case you haven't seen a buck in "Rut," all I can say is their is a good reason the devil is depicted as a goat. Now a neutered male is total opposite. They make the best and most docile pet if that is all you want. To own a buck you can't have just one. Goats are herd animals and don't do well alone. So now you have two bucks to feed for just one breeding season a year. They also need separate housing a good distance away from you and the does because their smell can taint your does' milk if you're in the milk business. Every time we take a doe to be bred we have to feed the milk to the chickens until the smell gets out of their system or about 3 days.
When bucks are in Rut they make their own "perfume." They pee on their own faces and somehow this gets them the girls. Kinky, I know :p The smell is awful and if it gets on your hands you will smell it all day. The bucks are much like that drunk guy in the bar that creeps everyone out and dry humps your leg on the dance floor. For us, owning males just doesn't make economical, or any other, sense.
What does the whole breeding process cost you? Our first year we paid seasoned pros to do all of the steps so we could watch and learn. We now do it all ourselves to save a ton of money. First, in order for a breeder to take your does into their herd for breeding, they require your herd be CAE tested and paper work in hand. This is a good thing for both you and the breeder. Any reputable breeder knows this is important. You don't want diseases to be spread and CAE is the worst threat. This requires someone to draw blood from the jugular of each goat at a cost and then a laboratory test for each goat at a cost. Next is the stud fee of $50 per goat. Then comes more blood tests to make sure your doe is truly pregnant. There is a window to get them pregnant and if you miss it like we did in our first year, we had three does that didn't take. This means you now have does to feed for a year with no milk to pay for their keep.
Two months before birth the does require a CDT vaccine. After birth the doe then needs to be wormed. The babies will then eventually also need a CDT shot, Dis-budding at $10 to $15 per head. Then if you plan to register them, they need a tattoo in the ear or tail, money paid to the ADGA for the registration per goat. For each goat owner the costs can vary depending on what you choose to do or not to do. All the above we now do ourselves, as intimidating as it may sound. It was for us in the beginning. Having a mentor is priceless. In our experience you're lucky to recoup these costs with the sale of the baby when they are ready to be weened off mom.
Now comes the strategic pain in the butt. For the three girls that didn't get Prego last year we were able to leave them at the breeder for a month at a cost of $1 per day for each goat. This is ideal to make sure they take. However if you are in the milk business and need that milk this won't work. So instead you need to know your goats' heat signs and be willing to drop everything, load them into the horse trailer and get them to their man since the window is short. A doe goes into heat every 18 to 21 days so if you miss one window, mark the next cycle on your calender and be alert. We have had goats that took 4 trips to finally get the job done. You then need to plan for a "dry" period and hope your customers understand. Does need to stop milking 6 to 8 weeks before birth and then the baby needs the new milk, especially the colostrum, in the first week.
This year we are pretty confident all our girls are pregnant except one. I have had my eye on her for the last month thinking something just wasn't right and I didn't think she was pregnant despite two dates with the creepy dry humping bar guy. Somehow you just seem to know. We got our first blood from the jugular, drew blood and sent it off to be tested and sure enough we were right. We really need her milk since production has plummeted but we also need her to freshen and we are not sure if it's now too late in the season to have success. The other option is to just keep milking her with a lower amount of milk or let her dry off thus costing feed with no milk money return for a year.
Signs of heat can be different for each goat and once you learn the girls of your herd, you will know their differences. Some good signs are a sudden decrease in milk production, lack of appetite, increase in being vocal, excessive flagging of the tail, rubbing on other goats of the herd and the most obvious would be goo from the girly parts. Some goats can be what they call silent heat goats. Some don't show obvious signs at all. If you miss the window, be sure to mark the calendar for 18 to 21 days later and the sooner you notice the heat signs the better your chance for breeding success. Some goats won't even look pregnant all the way up till the end, while others may look like they are going to pop. Our smallest girl stayed looking small but gave birth to the biggest babies out of the whole herd last year.
There is much more I could go into including bottle feeding versus nursing, goat diets and such. Be sure to have a good birthing kit on hand and know the signs that labor is coming. Try to educate yourself in all that could go wrong. Your does and babies could be at risk just the same as complications in human births. We have had to reach in and re-position babies and had a few still births. Have a clean birthing stall stocked with all that you would need but not out of site of the herd. They get stressed by big changes.
A baby monitor is your best friend during this time as they could go into labor in the middle of the night so have your warm clothes and a plan in place to rush out the door because it can happen fast. As complicated as this all may sound, it's not always that complicated. Nothing beats the experience of holding that newborn baby and building a playful relationship with them. It's a labor of love.