Should I Buy a Buck?  

By Crystal Miller

A big question to ask yourself if you raise goats is, “Should I own a buck”.  The answer to this question depends on several other answers. How many does do you have?  Do you have a separate place away from your does to house the buck?  Can you live with the smell?  Bucks can be aggressive, especially when in rut and is this something you feel you could handle?  Bucks in rut have some pretty disgusting behavior that will gross out a lot of people.  I won’t go into detail but will just say that I consider this behavior the normal course of life for a goat and I live with it, but others may not want that around. Cost is also something to consider.  You will pay to house and feed and care for this goat (and a buddy for him because he can’t live alone as goats are very social) all year just for his use at breeding time.  Is that worth it to you?  The answer to these questions for me has been, yes.  

For some people the answer to this question is no.  They may only have one or two does and their desire is just for a little milk for the family table.  In this case you can usually find someone in your area that owns a buck and you can pay for buck service.  When I started raising goats I took my goats to someone else’s farm for breeding.  As my herd grew it was obvious to me that waiting for each one of my does to go in heat and being ready that day or moment to load them in the truck and take them somewhere was just not a very convenient thing for me.   

So I bought my first buck. He was being bottle fed when I bought him and I continued to bottle feed him for quite some time.  The nice thing about this is that he is a very friendly guy.  He loves people and is very, very easy to handle.  If you do decide to purchase a buck I would highly recommend purchasing one that is bottle fed and continuing to feed him yourself.   

If you plan on owning a buck you will need to have him live in a separate pen away from your does.  You don’t want him or his smell near your does. This is especially true if your does are in milk.  Your milk will taste like a buck smells if they are housed together.  You also want to have some control of when your goats are bred and to whom. So being able to put them together for breeding and keeping track of these dates on your calendar is important.  He also can not live alone so he will need a buddy.  You can use a wether (castrated male goat) or you can have 2 bucks.  I have done all of the above.  Currently this year I have 3 bucks.   

Can you live with the smell of a buck?  As fall begins so also begins the goat breeding season. Some types of goats such as meat goats and pygmies will come into heat year round.  But for dairy goats the cooler months of fall begin the breeding season and it last usually until January.   I was out the other day near the pen where my bucks are housed and got my first whiff of that familiar and distinctive buck odor.  Bucks are quite smelly and when they begin to go into “rut” (their heat season) they start smelling.  This smell intensifies over time.   

Taking on the challenge of owning a buck is something to give plenty of consideration to. I would not advise a new goat owner to start off with a buck.  You will want to have a little bit of goat owning experience before owning a buck.  But if you do decide to add a buck to your farm at some point you will enjoy the ease and convenience of having him around during this time of year.


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