If you’re raising goats as pets, you’re probably in no hurry for those adorable kids to grow up.
However, the opposite may be true if you’re raising goats for meat.
For those raising goats for meat, they reach butchering size at around ten months of age. But to reach their full size, most goats take about two years. To finish maturing, they’ll need to reach four years old. However, they actually reach puberty much earlier.
These are just some basic points on this adorable animal’s life timeline.
You’re probably wondering about more specific details, such as when they can start to reproduce and what growth should look like over time.
Keep reading to learn about these things and more.
Basic Stages of a Goat’s Life
The average lifespan and growth rate vary for different breeds of goat.
However, the general stages of a goat’s life are similar among all goat breeds.
Here’s our outline of a goat’s lifespan:
- Adult Doe or Buck
Let’s walk through each of these one at a time and explore the differences between males and females.
Birth and Newborn Goats
When a baby goat is first born, they behave much like newborn calves and sheep.
They can generally stand and walk or even run very soon after birth.
But their legs may be shaky, and their gait will most likely be clumsy for at least the first day or two of life.
Watch their umbilical cord during this time to make sure it falls off and doesn’t get infected too.
Further Reading: Baby goats’ umbilical cord issues
Babies will nurse off their mothers first.
Then you may start bottle feeding them.
During the first four or five weeks of life, they’ll develop their baby or “milk” teeth.
These aren’t strong enough to chew many of the foods your adult goats eat.
But they’re good enough for your babies’ purposes.
Regardless of how your baby animals eat, you’ll need to wean them around 6-8 weeks.
At this point, they can begin to eat a starter grain, hay, and water and slowly be introduced to other kinds of feed you give your older goats.
They’ll begin to get curious and start foraging and exploring their surroundings.
This stage of life is where the bucks and does will start to mature at slightly different rates.
You’ll need to be prepared to see changes in their behavior and possibly start separating them from one another.
Accounts vary, but in general, male goats can hit puberty at just a few months of age while females are more likely to be later, starting around 4-6 months.
Just because your animals are old enough to reproduce doesn’t mean it’s time for you to start breeding goats.
This is especially true for your does.
Their bodies aren’t prepared to withstand pregnancy until they’re at least a year old.
They could hurt their legs or backs if you start too soon.
Use your best judgment and wait until you’re sure your female goats are strong enough to have their baby goats.
Again, this is usually around one year. Some people wait a little longer, until around eighteen months.
By comparison, buck kids are less likely to be hurt if you start a little early.
However, most goat farmers recommend starting at one year, just like with does.
We suggest you follow this advice.
During this stage, your kids will also develop their first two permanent incisors.
This is exciting because these are their first adult teeth to come in!
Don’t worry if it’s a couple of months wait after they turn a year.
It’s normal for this to take until they’re eighteen months.
Related: How soon can a goat rebreed?
Animals between one and two years of age are all called yearling goats.
During this year, your animals will lose the rest of those milk teeth they grew in early on to replace them with stronger adult teeth, which should grow in pairs.
Don’t expect your animal to have a full mouth of incisors by two years, though.
Goats don’t finish teething until they’re four years old!
Goats at this age are grain eaters, but they also love to forage.
Grain feeding will probably be only half their diet.
They’re likely to be more interested in their hay, roaming around, eating plants, and anything else you give them access to.
When I was little, I watched in shock as one of our goats ate the bark off a tree!
Watch your yearlings to make sure they aren’t getting into anything dangerous.
Give them lots of space but be careful about what kinds of plants and other materials they can access.
Also, supervise your males!
At this age, they may begin to behave aggressively with your females.
Some goat raisers choose to separate their males and females until it’s time for them to breed goats.
Some choose not to raise males and instead bring in an outside male when it’s time for their females to get pregnant.
It’s entirely up to you whether you do either of these things.
Just know that raising your males will help the rest of your herd avoid diseases from outsiders.
Even experienced goat farmers also risk missing does’ heat cycles if they don’t have a male present on their farm.
Regardless of what you choose to do, be watchful. If your males start to get aggressive, take the necessary steps to keep your females safe.
At two years of age, your animals will be just about their full adult size, though they still have some finishing weight to put on.
Your females will likely have had their first baby, and your males may have fathered as many as ten kids.
But remember, your friends aren’t fully mature until they’re about four years old.
By this point, they will have all their teeth and probably stop putting on extra weight.
They’ve also reached total sexual maturity.
Does are ready to be bred each year.
Males can father many more goats each season, too.
We added this category not because your goats will be getting discounts at the coffee shop but because they should no longer be bred after reaching 8-10 years of age.
Just as with kids, the bodies of older goats have a hard time withstanding pregnancy and labor.
Other Notes on Goat Development
The rate of growth is different for various goat breeds.
For example, a dairy goat may have growth spurts while a Boer goat grows more steadily.
The average lifespan is also different for each breed.
All goats have a huge variation in their 7-14 years.
So, be sure to research the specifics of the breed(s) you raise.
This way, you’ll know when to stop breeding them and what to expect as they grow and mature.
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