Achieving production targets in a managed goat breeding enterprise relies on developing a program that utilises genetic and reproductive knowledge and technologies.
Genetics defines the production potential of a goat and using the best available genetics allows producers to improve the goats' contribution to enterprise profit. Reproductive management ensures the desirable genes selected are transferred across generations and considers the animal health, welfare and husbandry aspects of good livestock management.
Key reproductive events that occur throughout the year in a goat enterprise include:
- Pregnancy and birth
- Lactation and weaning
During this cycle consideration needs to be given to:
- Suitability and selection of sires to ensure breeding objectives are met and desired traits are introduced or encouraged in the herd.
- Suitability and selection of dams in order to ensure desired genetic traits are introduced or encouraged in the herd.
- Animal health and welfare considerations of pregnant or lactating does, as well as protection for kids and weaners from diseases, pests or parasite and predatory animals.
In all livestock breeding operations, weaning rates are one of the key determinants of productivity.
Goats have an excellent potential to breed, with a high proportion of twins and triplets. It is critical that this propensity to breed be fully capitalised to ensure that this head start is still there when it comes to marketing the offspring.
Once suitable sires and dams have been selected and a breeding program implemented, issues such as reproductive disease and predators, need to be considered to maximise genetic potential and productivity through high weaning rates.