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Breeding Management

General breeding management practices adopted for sheep and goat are explained here


This Video Explains About Goat-and-Sheep-farming

General breeding management practices in Sheep and Goat

  • The male female ratio is 1:20.
  • Young males can be put in to experienced older ewes and older rams to younger ewes will help in better mating.
  • Inbreeding should be avoided.
  • The males should be replaced or exchanged once in two years to avoid inbreeding.
  • Breeding ewe of indigenous breeds should be 18 to 24 months depending upon their body condition.
  • Breeding too young ewes result in more weakling and thus results in higher lamb loss.
  • Body weight of ewe at breeding should normally less than the adult body weight of that breed.
  • Oestrous detection of all female goats above 1 year should be done either with approned or vasectomized buck both in morning or evening during breeding season.
  • The normal breeding season is Sept to Oct, Feb to march and may to June.
  • In order to synchronize them improved hormonal technology may be used or buck may be in a partitioned corral of woven-wire net so that the does and the buck may have full view of each other. This may be done a week or two before or during the breeding season.
  • A 90% conception rate in does may be ensured if one buck with one doe or more does (not exceeding 2 to 3) in heat are allowed to remain together for a whole day or whole night provided it is followed over period of 3 cycles.
  • If 2 services at an interval of 8 to 12 hrs is practised improvement in conception may be achieved.
  • Goats which do not return to oestrus after 2 cycles are considered as pregnant and should be separated from the dry, non pregnant flock. They should be kept in a group of not more than 15 to 20 does to avoid infighting.
  • If they have no kidding for complete one year they should be removed from flock.
  • Efforts should always be made to avoid kidding during the peak winter season which can be practically achieved by a planned breeding summer season within a specified period between 15th may to 15th June. This will save the kids from cold susceptibility and resultant pneumonic death during winter.
  • Avoid starvation of goat since even two days starvation period early in pregnancy can cause a high percentage of shed embryos to be absorbed.

Reproductive parameters

  • Breeding age - 6-8 months
  • Comes to heat after lambing – 21 days after
  • Length of pregnancy - 147 days (ranges between 144 and 152 days)
  • Male female ratio - 1:20
  • Estrous period is repeated every 16-17 days on average in ewes (range 14-19 days)
  • Estrous period is 19-21 days in does (range 17-24 days).
  • The estrous period lasts for about 24-36 hours in ewes and 34-38 hours in does.

Estrous signs

The estrous signs normally exhibited by female animals in estrus period are

  • Redding of the vulva and discharge from vulva
  • Tail wagging
  • Mounting other animal
  • Seeking male
  • Frequent bleating
  • Push her back
  • Standing for mating (standing reflex)

Identification of sheep and goat in heat

1. Using an intact male

  • The male is allowed in the flock to identify the oestrous animals.
  • There is a chance the buck or ram will mate the doe or ewe if is not controlled properly.

2. Use of intact male fitted with aprons

  • An apron is tied on the abdomen of the male to cover the penis.
  • The apron is made of a soft piece of cloth measuring 60x45 cm with strings on four sides to tie it properly. This prevents mating.
  • The apron should be washed daily and checked for holes or tears to avoid unwanted mating.
  • The first there is a risk of fertile mating if the apron is not securely fastened and checked frequently.
  • Inflammation, irritation and infection of penis and prepuce area can occur, resulting in inhibited sexual desire and mounting behaviour.
  • The ram/buck are apronized and allowed in to the flock for identification of animals in the morning and evening for about 15 to 20minutes.
  • Teasure ram/buck detects the females in heat, which are marked and separated out for breeding with desired ram.

3. Vasactamised ram

  • Vasactamised rams can be prepared by doing surgical intervention.
  • An intact buck or ram is let in to the flock. The buck or ram follows the doe/ewe in estrous.

Methods of mating

1. Hand mating

  • In this system the females are allowed to mate one by one.
  • In this system a ram or buck not allowed to mate more than three ewes/does in a day.


  • This method ensured the expected time of lambing.
  • This system allows the farmer to know that the animal has actually bred.
  • This system reduces the risk of injuries to the animals.
  • It is beneficial when mating older male with a younger female.
  • It also improved the breeding efficiency of male, resulting in an increased number of females that can be bred in shorter period of time.

2. Pen mating

  • In this mating system the ewes/does are divided into batches varying from 20 to 25 ewes/does.
  • Males are turned in to the flock only during the night time and separated during day time.


  • This system of mating prevents the disturbances to the ewes/does by the male during grazing hours.
  • Males also given with enough rest and they can be fed properly.

3. Flock mating/pasture mating

  • In this system males are allowed to run along with the females throughout the day and     night.
  • The ram may lose its most of its body reserves in chasing the ewes and they may lose their body conditions.


  • The ram or buck sometimes may develop attraction for particular ewe or doe in heat and serve it a number of times while other remains unattended resulting in empty ewes/does and low fertility rate.
  • The ram/buck some time  exhaust  itself overnight by serving more than a dozen times and the last served ewes or does not receive optimum number of spermatozoa and remain unconceived.

4. Artificial insemination

  • Artificial insemination offer the best means of distributing germplasm from nucleus breeding flock to many small flocks within each eco system.
  • Fresh as well as frozen semen is used.
  • The speculum method of insemination is used for ewes and does.
  • Generally artificial insemination leads to lower reproductive rate than natural service and frozen semen  gives even much low pregnancy rate that is around 40%.
  • Cervical insemination is generally followed for better conception rate.

Source: Expert System for Sheep & Goat, ICAR-TANUVAS-TNAU

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