In Canada, most breeds of goats are seasonal breeders; they will only breed from late summer to early spring, although there are variations between the breeds. Goats are usually bred to kid once a year. While in some situations it may be desirable to have a ratio of three kiddings in two years, this is not a common practice in Alberta.
During breeding season, bucks exhibit a number of undesirable (from the viewpoint of humans) characteristics which are attractive to does. It is these habits which give goats the reputation of being a bad-smelling species, when in fact it is only the male of the species, and then only during the breeding season, that can be said to be bad-smelling.
The estrus cycle of does is approximately 21 days. Does are in heat from a few hours to three days. Gestation lasts from 145 to 155 days, or approximately five months.
Kids are usually born as twins, but depending on breed, age, and condition, individual does may successfully carry triplets, quadruplets and quintuplets; and sometimes only single kids.
Goats are usually very good mothers, and in most cases, little human intervention is needed in either the birth or the raising of the young. In dairy operations, however, kids are often segregated from the adult goats at birth, and hand-raised on goat milk, milk replacer, or cows milk. Kids will drink readily from bottles or buckets fitted with sheep nipples.
Kids are usually weaned at eight to twelve weeks when hand raised; however it is not unusual to see dam-raised goats still nursing on their dams at a year of age. This is not a good practice if the dam is in the latter half of pregnancy. In this situation, the young goats should be separated from their dams.