How to be a successful goat: Step 1 – Eat weeds; Step 2 – Don’t get eaten; Step 3 – Make babies! The first two steps usually aren’t much of a problem as long as the goat is still alive. But step number three can be a problem if you're a rancher trying to turn a profit. For a goat to be good at kidding they must be able to give birth on their own, recover quickly, and produce as many kids as possible.
From new fathers to old farmhands, everyone knows that when the labor pains start it can mean a long night! Wouldn’t it be nice if our goats were able to have their kids in the brush without needing a wet nurse to prevent the death of the mother or kids? As it turns out, they can! When we started in the goat business with Boer crosses over a decade ago, we pulled more kids than we could count. Sometimes we’d get there too late to save the kid. Other times, we’d find a breached mother lying in the road the following morning. We’ve been much happier since we found goats that can handle the kidding themselves. A goat just isn’t good at kidding if they can’t do it by themselves. But that’s not all!
A goat that’s good at kidding needs to recover quickly so the kids can drink her colostrum while she cleans the amniotic fluids off their fur. Kids need to drink the colostrum that’s available in their mother’s milk within the first six hours after birth. Colostrum gives newborn kids immune protection against the diseases and contamination they’ll encounter outside the womb. Without colostrum, kids are sitting ducks for illness and infection. Furthermore, colostrum provides many important nutrients that will allow the kid to grow quickly and healthily. While the kids are nursing, the doe should clean up the afterbirth from her new babies. If the kids aren’t cleaned, the afterbirth on their fur will attract flies and cause putrefaction. A doe that does not promptly stand up to feed and clean her kids is not a good mother.
Since being a new mother is so much work, goats should maximize the productivity of each birth by consistently yielding twins (or more). Goats that produce more kids make more money for the rancher. No matter how skillfully a doe mothers her baby after kidding, she will not be able to produce a higher sale price (measured per pound) from a 45lb single kid than a doe with two 30lb twins. Therefore, a goat that is good at kidding must mainly bear twins in order to justify the risks of her pregnancy.
A doe that earns her stay must be able to give birth alone, begin her duties promptly, and regularly produce multiple kids. Just "eating weeds" and "not getting eaten" won't turn a profit. To make money in the goat business, you need goats that take care of themselves and produce kids that do the same.