When it comes to raising goats the girls get all the glory. After all they are the one having the babies and producing all that milk for your family, but the truth is no babies or milk will be produced without a male goat to help things along.
Many small homesteads choose not to keep a buck, opting instead for artificial insemination or stud service at a neighboring farm.
When we reached our first breeding season with our first goats we found it very hard to find a stud. Most farms are closed and don’t allow goats from another herd on their property and they don’t allow their goats to leave their farm. It’s just safer that way to control the spread of disease and parasites.
After some searching we decided to purchase a buck to keep on site. Up to that point I had never been around a buck before. And let me tell you, bucks in rut are quite comical!
What You Need to Know About Bucks in Rut
As far as day to day care and feeding, a buck does not require much more throughout the year. Fresh water, a little feed, hay, etc. But when a buck goes into rut you will need to change how your care for your buck just a bit.
Bucks in rut STINK
If you’ve never been around a buck, let me repeat that. Bucks in rut STINK. They urinate all over themselves and will be covered from head to toe and be sticky, stinky, and slimy.
Related Reading: The Ultimate Guide to Breeding Goats
Bucks need to be kept in a pasture separate from your does.
If you have seasonal breeders, you can get away with pasturing them together during the off season, but year round breeders need separate pastures- with no shared fences. Bucks can and will breed through a fence if given the chance. If you’ve got milkers, the stink from a buck in rut can cause your milk to taste a bit off.
Make Sure Your Fence is Strong
We pasture our does in 5 strands of electric fencing. We also have 2 pastures that are fenced with goat fencing. We recently did some rearranging a few weeks ago and I learned real quick that the 4 strand electric fence will not hold our buck when the girls are in heat across the way.
If a fence is all that is in between a buck and a doe he will do what he can to get over that fence. Often times you will need both a physical (wire) and psychological (electric) barrier to keep him in.
Read more about farm fencing –> Fence Options on the Farm
Never Turn Your Back on a Buck in Rut
Our buck is usually a big baby. He cries when his wether friend is not right near him. But come lat August he beefs up and starts going a bit crazy. He’s even attempted to ram me a couple of times when I go in to feed them and I didn’t pour fast enough.
I have also heard that bucks can attempt to mount humans- and you don’t want a 200 lb smelly goat to knock you down. So keep the kids out of the buck yard in the fall and make sure you keep your eyes on him just in case.
Note: Not all bucks will be like this, it is more just for safety. Our first buck, Thor, was an older boy and was the sweetest thing in the world. Even when he was in rut all he wanted to do was to rub his head me and get petted. They only aggression he showed was to his herdmates.
He Will Become a Blubbering, Howling, Sneering Fool
Bucks in rut have all sorts of odd behaviors that the girls just love. Some of these include tongue waving, blubbering, spitting, stomping. He will drink or sniff the does urine if given the chance then raise his lip and make the “buck face” smelling the air all around him.
If you are new to goats, I recommend reading up as much as you can before you purchase. You can find a lot of articles here on The Free Range Life that will teach you about goat care and be sure to check out The Busy Homesteader’s Goat Management Binder– it’s full of to-do lists, checklists, record keeping sheets, and resource pages that will get your new goat herd off to a great start!
Rut Takes a lot Out of the Buck
Being in rut and breeding in general can take a lot out of your boy. Just as you might increase the feed for a pregnant or milking doe, you will need to make sure your buck is getting proper nutrition to help him through this hormonal time.
Don’t Forget: He’s Still a Goat
Which means he is very much a herd animal and cannot be raised alone. You will either need a wether to keep him company or a second buck.
Your Buck if Half Your Herd
Don’t forget that your buck makes up half the genetics in your herd. He can increase the quality of your herd in just one generation, adding desirable characteristics to all his kids.
If you decide to purchase a buck, do your research and make sure you get a good quality goat. Because just as he can add good characteristics, he can also add negative ones. So make sure he has good milking lines and behavior behind him.
Some Things to Think About:
- Consider getting your buck as a baby. A bottle baby is even better, as they will be very friendly and easy to handle
- If you live on an urban homestead, owing a buck is probably not the best idea. Between the noise and smell at breeding time, your neighbors might not like it too much
- If you have a smaller homestead without the room for separate pastures, owing a buck is probably not for you
- If you only keep a couple of does, you probably don’t need your own buck. The cost of care for him and at least one herdmate won’t make financial sense in this scenario.
Overall, I enjoy our boys. Even when they stink. In the fall, I have a special coat that I have affectionately nicknamed my “goat coat” and I wear it over my clothes to protect them from the smell. And these boys tend to be much sweeter and more affectionate than the does- who tend to be a bit more stand-offish.
Check out these other posts on raising goats!
You can find more on my Goats Page!