Over the last decade, there’s been an increase in goats being bought as pets or to tend backyard grass. With that comes many questions for new owners, including ones regarding how many babies goats have per pregnancy. Here’s all you need to know.
How many babies do goats have? Goats can have between 1 and 5 babies, but on average most goats will have 2 babies per pregnancy. The number of kids a doe (female goat) has depends on the doe’s breed and even nutrition.
So, yes, some goats do only have one baby, but that is a below average pregnancy number.
Having many kids has its fair set of challenges for goat owners in a residential setting. But on the bright side, the more kids a goat has, the greater the financial gain for the owner if a farming or commercial operation.
There are some goats that will have more than 7 kids, you can find out more below, plus details on how many kids pygmy, Boer, Nubian, fainting, and Alpine goats have with each pregnancy.
I’ve also included some interesting information for those wondering whether goats eat their babies!
How many babies do goats have per pregnancy?
Usually, the birth of baby goats isn’t news to blow up the internet.
But in 2019, a goat owner in Arizona got a lot of attention online over the new members of her goat family. Her doe had just given birth to not one, not three, but seven babies! That’s the highest number of babies any goat has ever given birth to. It’s the world’s highest record.
It’s rare for goats to give birth to more than five kids
As stated before, goats give birth to between one to five kids. But two kids is the average number that most goat breeds give birth to in a single pregnancy.
Let me clarify: kidding is the word used to refer to the birthing experience in goats. Doe is the name given to female goats.
So, most, if not all goats, give birth to twins. The scientific claim is that since goats have two teats, they can only serve two babies.
This number often goes up in the kidding experiences that follow.
After the first pregnancy, goats can give birth to up to three babies during other pregnancies. Four to five kids per pregnancy is also a possibility, but it doesn’t happen as often.
Here’s what determines how many babies a goat will have per pregnancy.
Handy Hint: Have you heard the rumour about goats being able to protect chickens from hawks and birds of prey?
The type of breed determines the number of babies a goat can have in a pregnancy. Let’s explore this further with details on pygmy, Boer, Nubian, fainting, and Alpine pregnancies.
How many babies do pygmy goats have?
Pygmy goats will typically have two babies per pregnancy.
Nigerian dwarf goats are the shortest goats alive (and they’re darn cute as pygmy goats). But heigh has got nothing on a Nigerian dwarf’s kidding abilities.
Only goats from this breed give birth to many babies in each pregnancy.
It’s a norm for Nigerian Dwarf goats to deliver over three babies per pregnancy.
A farmer once got the shock of a lifetime when her Nigerian Dwarf goat gave birth to seven babies. All along, she thought the doe was carrying utmost five babies, based on the doe’s size.
No doubt, a Nigerian Dwarf Doe will surprise you!
How many babies do Boer goats have?
On average, female Boer goats give birth to two babies in all kidding experiences. Sometimes, they’ll have three babies.
Boer goats are mostly kept for their meat.
Handy Hint: Did you know that goat and sheep can breed together to produce “geep”. Here’s all you need to know.
How many babies do alpine goats have?
Dairy goat breeds include goats such as the Toggenburg goat, the Alpine goat, the Saanen goat, and the Anglo Nubian goat (all kept for milk).
Just like Boer goats, most dairy goats like Nubian and Alpine goats will have 2 babies per pregnancy. Giving birth to triplets is also a possibility, but this is not as common as twins.
How many babies do fainting goats have?
Fainting goats can sometimes have 3 babies.
As with other goat breeds, how many babies they can have with each pregnancy will depend on factors including nutrition.
Some years back, postgraduate students from a popular university in Australia conducted a farm trial to find the link between nutrition and goats’ pregnancies.
According to their findings, goats fed on maize meal have a higher chance of giving birth to twins and triplets.
What I gathered from this trial is that maize feed is a fertility booster for goats.
A goat not fed on maize will give birth to only one baby during the first pregnancy (while others on maize feed are getting two to three kids).
In general, a goat’s pregnancy lasts for 150 days – that’s five months. If we do the math, a goat can give birth twice every year.
Since it’s typical for most goats to deliver two babies per pregnancy, a goat can have at least four babies every year.
Of course, this is different for breeds like the Nigerian dwarf goat.
As mentioned earlier, goats only have two teats.
Suckling becomes a problem for all the kids since a doe can only feed two babies at a go. When feeding turns into a “first-come, first-served” basis, the weaker kids are disadvantaged.
Without proper suckling, some kids may grow slower than the rest, despite being born at the same time.
Does also reject their kids — it happens in instances where a goat gives birth to multiple kids. Say, for example, a doe with three babies.
You may find the doe bonding with two kids, leaving out the third baby.
A doe turning its backs on its baby sounds awful, I know.
Step in and save the weak kids
As a goat owner, you can’t afford to watch a newborn kid go hungry. And this is where bottle feeding comes in.
If the doe has a hard time feeding all the kids, bottle feed the neglected kids. What you do is milk the doe, then transfer the milk to a bottle and give the other babies.
If the doe is producing little milk (not enough to serve all the kids), use a goat milk replacer during bottle feeding.
Find foster goats
If there are other goats on the farm that have given birth at the same time, look out for those with only one kid. Make them foster does.
And what do I mean by this?
Give the extra kid to a doe that’s given birth to a single baby. It should take a few days for this doe to accept the new kid as its own.
But remember, give out the extra kid as soon as possible (a few hours after the doe with the single kid gives birth).
That way, the chances of the foster doe taking in the extra baby are high.
It’s good to know how many kids your pregnant doe will give birth to. You know, for planning purposes.
The best way to find out is through ultrasound scanning. Yes, ultrasound scanning does exist in the goats’ world.
Some farmers often guess by looking at the doe’s belly. But this isn’t as accurate as scanning.
When you know how many babies to expect, you’ll get to:
Plan for adequate shelter space
Imagine having a tiny space for your pregnant doe, only for it to deliver, and you realize you need space that’s two times bigger than what you had initially set up.
The earlier you know the number of babies your goat will give birth to, the better.
You’ll have time to create a spacious area for the new members of your goat family.
Plan for feeding
A goat that’s delivered many babies (more than two) should be well fed. That way, it will produce enough milk to satisfy all the kids.
You’ll stock up quality feeds for your doe when you know the number of kids to expect.
A goat can deliver one to five babies per pregnancy. But two babies is most common.
Goats can have at least four babies a year since they give birth two times every year.
But it also depends on the breed, as mentioned in the article. Nigerian Dwarf goats can have more than five babies every year.
It’s not unusual for a goat to give birth to one baby. The ideal number, though, is one to three babies.
No, goats don’t eat their babies. They only lick their newborn babies to clean them.
If you are planning on buying goats for your backyard, go for two of the same gender. If you don’t you’ll end up with a herd of them in no time – the males should be banded.
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Image of goat babies in header via https://unsplash.com/photos/KNQMq7_rG-c