While some Boergoat producers prefer to have their rams (bucks) run with the ewes (does) all year round, it is good management practice to have specific breeding seasons. The reason is that a management cycle can be planned that significantly reduces the year round work cycle.
It is important, however, to consider various factors when planning the breeding cycle:
- fodder flow and feed availability,
- natural estrus cycle of the Boergoat,
- market cycle,
- marketing date, and
- personal management factors.
In terms of management inputs, it significantly reduces the workload if all innoculations, vaccinations, ear tagging and other practices can be carried out simultaneously rather than having to handle lambs on an ongoing never-ending basis. A breeding cycle also ensures that the producer can present large groups of Boergoats for sale rather than smaller lots of animals.
The reproduction rate of Boergoats is one of the most beneficial characteristics for the meat producer. Twin births and lambing percentages of 180 – 200% are common. There are various factors which affect the reproduction percentage of the ewe:
- body mass and
The Boergoat ewe displays seasonal estrus with a peak in April/May (southern hemisphere autumn) and a trough from October to January (southern hemisphere midsummer). With high nutrition levels, ewes reach puberty at an age of six months. However, pregnancies at this young age can disrupt growth and permanently rein in future performance. A rule of thumb dictates that young ewes should not be mated before reaching two thirds the flock’s average adult body mass. Good grazing and pasture condition go hand in hand with animal production (lambing percentages and milk production). As with any ruminant, nutrition levels have a noticeable impact on the reproduction levels of Boergoats.
One infertile ewe has only a minimal impact on the reproduction index of a flock while an infertile ram has a major impact. Generally, the following practices have a direct or indirect impact on improved reproduction two to three months before mating:
- dose with vitamins A, D and E,
- Supplement zinc if zinc levels are too low in pastures,
- Inoculate against pulpy kidney,
- Dose for round worm and nose worm, Ensure that rams are in a good condition and are free from any hoof problems,
- Rams should receive adequate exercise to ensure that they are fit and don’t become too fat and lazy.
Before mating occurs
Make sure ewes are not too fat one month before mating, so that a growing condition can be effected before mating.
Generally, the following practices have a direct or indirect impact on improved reproduction four to six weeks before mating:
- Supplement zinc and manganese if a shortfall is present, it raises fertility,
- Inoculate against enzootic abortion and pulpy kidney,
- Dose for roundworm and noseworm,
- Ensure that ewes are in a good condition and have no hoof problems,
- Reject all ewes with problem udders, teats that are either abnormally enlarged and multiple teats.
- Inject, or dose with, Vitamins A, D and E three weeks before the mating season. This is extremely important, especially during dry periods.
- Administer stimulating feed in the form of spare camps, a good lick or a small amount of maize daily.
- Put teaser rams in place 2-3 weeks before mating time.
- Have rams tested for fertility.
Mass mating: One ram per 35 – 40 ewes. It is very important to endeavor to mating the young ewes separately from the mature ewes.
Single mating: One ram per 50 ewes.
With regard to the above, it is very important to keep rams in small shady camps during hot periods with a small amount of growing supplement and rams should only be let loose among ewes during the evening. This system works particularly well in cases where goats are penned at night.
Controlled servicing: Try to do this in cool weather wherever possible. A ram can cover an ewe every half hour.
Artificial insemination: Insert sponge on day 1. Remove sponge on day 14 and inject 1/4 cc PMS on withdrawal during the active period of March – June or 1/2 cc PMS during July – February (Southern Hemisphere). Inseminate at 48, 60, 72 hours. Guard against synchronising too many ewes at a time. Ewes which are artificially inseminated on the same day usually give birth within a period of 5-7 days relatively to one another. Keep ewes as calm as possible, providing protection against excessive heat; after insemination, stimulate with teaser rams or young rams on the other side of the fence. Keep ewes in approximately the same nutritional conditions as before insemination.
After the mating season
Keep ewes in the same growing condition for the first month in order to prevent abortion of the fertilized ovum. Have ewes tested for pregnancy by sonar 40 days after covering, or remove open ewes, with markers, and place with teaser rams; or install cleanup rams 14 days after insemination.