September 21, 2008

Herd Of Bucks

For me male goats that are good examples of their breed have only one purpose in life — breeding. The instinct to reproduce is stronger than anything else, even eating. Bucks will often go off-feed when in rut. That is why you will see that all bucks placed with females will for the most times look malnourished. Many farmers should give thought and preparation into buck housing, pasturing and overall management.

A primary consideration is good fencing. Good fences make good neighbors and prevent unplanned pregnancies by keeping does and bucks apart. Do not pen or pasture bucks across a common fence from breeding-age does. Typical fencing will not prevent through-the-fence breeding. Don’t depend upon gate chains or latches to keep does and bucks apart, wire gates shut and check them regularly. Rutting bucks and flagging does have been known to literally lift gates off hinges and ‘have fun’. You do not want unplanned pregnancies even more when it involves cross breeding.

The solution at The Kebun is to build a separate housing for them. Here we house the breeding bucks, who will always be ‘fit for action’ and ready for the job at hand as we prefer to opt of synchronized mating.

Polled (born without horns) bucks are pastured separately from horned bucks. When rutting season arrives, bucks in a given pasture will select a buck to chase, harass, mount, and generally treat as if he is a desired mate as they practice breeding techniques. If polled bucks are penned with horned bucks, that sought-after male is usually the less aggressive polled buck. Horns serve as radiators for removing heat from the goat’s body. Polled bucks by definition have no ‘radiators’ and if harassed too much in the hot weather will result in heat stroke and dying.

At The Kebun, there are two buck pastures. The old bucks (over eight years of age) are pastured together. Bucks 12-24 months old to eight years of age occupy another paddock. Males under 18 months of age live in a separate goat house but are given access to the paddock for the day. Since separate space for polled bucks usually isn’t available, they are pastured with the youngest group of bucks over whom they can exert dominance.

When moving bucks into buck paddocks, the producer should be prepared for male-on-male activity to establish the new members’ places in the pecking order. Goats are serious herd animals and have a fairly rigid pecking order within each herd. Minimize the problems that these actions will cause by 1. never introducing a single buck into a new herd, 2. taking weather into consideration and moving them during the most favorable time of the day and 3. penning bucks with other males of similar size and age. Example: Remove bucks from breeding pens and house two or more together for at least a week so that they can form their own mini-herd before moving them to the larger buck pasture. Think like a goat. Both you and your goats will be less stressed.


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