BUCK SOUNDNESS

November 30, 2008

This is a mistake many ‘newbie’ farmers make where although they know they need and should use a sound Buck, they end up investing in an inferior specimen. You need and want to get the best possible Buck (naturally within a reasonable price range) as you know that most times the kids will resemble the buck more than the doe. The Buck has the potential to easily influence the genetics of a few hundred kids before you retire him. Remember, and refer to this post,YOUR BUCK IS HALF YOUR HERD.

QUALITY

He should have good size and bone, be vigorous and active, and have a strong and masculine appearance, basically a very handsome bloke. He should have a broad muzzle, straight back, thick chest, and deep hindquarters. He should be standing square on all four feet, and have a healthy shiny coat.

PURCHASING

You should purchase your Buck at least one month before breeding time. This will allow time for you to source for the right Buck and also allow him to be adjusted to your farm. This will also give you ample time to keep him quarantined from your herd just to make sure he is not carrying any contagious diseases. You will need approximately one mature Buck for 35-40 does on your farm.

BREEDING SOUNDNESS

In general, Bucks in temperate areas will become more active and aggressive ‘in the fall’ when most does are cycling. This will vary with some breeds that have the ability to breed ‘out of season’. Bucks from breeds such as the Boer are likely to be able to mate all year, but will tend to be the most aggressive in the fall. Bucks born and bred in tropical climates such as here in Sarawak are able to perform all year round.

Prior to breeding you should conduct a physical examination of your Buck for breeding soundness. The examination should include palpation of the testicles and epididymis, visual and hands on checking of feet, legs, and eyes. In addition, be sure to check the body condition of the Buck.

Testicles of the Buck should be firm and be adequate in size. The size of the testicles relates to the ability of the Buck to produce larger quantities of sperm, the bigger the better. This in turn will allow the Buck to breed a larger number of does. The tail of the epididymis is located at the bottom end of the testicle. It should be slightly rounded and free from any hard knots. This is important because the tail of the epididymis is where most of the sperm is reserved for breeding of the does.

When checking the feet and legs there should not be any lameness and evidence of foot rot or foot scald. Pick up the Buck’s feet and check between his toes for any sign of redness or infection. Also check the Billy’s eyes for signs of anemia. The tissues near the eye should be bright pink in color. If they are gray or white in appearance, the Buck probably needs dewormed. Refer to this post ‘ANEMIA

Checking the body condition of the Buck is easily done by handling him across his top and along his ribs. The Buck should have some extra condition or fat reserves, but not be overly fat. As the breeding season progresses he can lose as much as 15% of his body weight. A too fat Buck may be lazy and not want to breed. These Buck are also more susceptible to heat stress which can decrease sperm quality. On the other hand, a thin Buck will have less energy for breeding and may have a lower sperm quality.

If you have any question of the breeding soundness of your Buck, you can ultimately check his ability to breed does through either a semen evaluation or by marking the does as they are bred. Semen evaluations can be conducted by a veterinarian or by a breeding service, which of the latter there is NONE here in East Malaysia.

You should try marking does (some water based marker will do) as they are bred to check if a Buck is successfully impregnating does. Change colors every 17 days (average length of a doe’s cycle). If the Buck re-mates a large number of does after the first heat cycle, you may want to have his semen evaluated.

Taking this few minutes prior to your breeding season/program can save you a lot of headache, heartache and ‘moneyache’. Keep your Buck in with the does for no more than 45 – 60 days to keep does kidding as a group. Kids born more than 45 days apart will vary in size and be more difficult to manage as you will have more than one weaning group.

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