Retiring a Doe from Breeding

In this post:

  • factors to determine when to retire a doe
  • history informs future
  • 487 words

How do we know the right time to retire a doe from breeding?  Standard advice is to breed until the doe is 10 years old and then retire.  This is a good rule of thumb but your doe may need to be retired sooner or she may be able to continue beyond that age.  This decision is best made on an individual basis, taking into account the following considerations:

  • nutrition status
  • previous health history
  • outcome of the last kidding
  • overall health status
  • your intuition

Nutrition Status

A doe with excellent nutrition and mineral balance can often continue beyond the expected 10 years.  I know of does breeding still at 15.  Nutrition is key and if you’ve got this dialed in, odds are that your doe can continue breeding.

Previous Health History

Previous injuries, communicable diseases, multiple c-sections or other health considerations can be limiting factors in a doe’s ability to breed.  New knowledge of a genetic issue can also give cause to retire a doe.  Say, for example, your previously successfully kidding doe has developed something later in life that is known to be genetic.  You may decide to eliminate her from the breeding pool to prevent further development of that genetic issue.  Mastitis is another issue that will retire a doe in my herd.  Once mastitis develops, the odds are increased that it will develop again.  I also have no desire to produce kids from a doe susceptible to that.  We have eliminated it from our herd in this way.

Outcome of the Last Kidding

A doe with a poor kidding outcome last time may need to be carefully considered for the next breeding season.  While a c-section is absolutely not a disqualifier (natural birth after c-section is common), repeated c-sections may be.  A doe who is a bad mother doesn’t get to do it again here, unless she was simply confused or had underlying conditions.  A uterine tear or other trauma that results in scarring in the reproductive areas can also force a doe to retire.

Overall Health Status

How is the doe doing?  Did she struggle last winter to keep body condition?  Are her teeth and hooves strong and straight?  Is she beginning to show signs of slowing down, not keeping up with the herd or otherwise indicating that she’s tired?  How is her parasite status compared to how she normally is?  A doe developing increasing parasite issues may not have the physical stamina to grow kids.

Your Intuition

I cannot ever emphasize enough how important your own intuition is in every aspect of your animal husbandry.  This is another area where you know, even if you’re not sure you know.  When you think of this doe kidding again, what kind of feeling or thoughts do you get?  There is an inner knowing about these things that will lead you far.  Generally speaking, if you feel you should retire a doe, you probably should retire that doe.

Continue the discussion in the Breeding forum.

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