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Why You Should Castrate Your Buckling Goats

Responsible goat owners who breed goats eventually have to turn a buckling into a wether — that is, castrate him. Fortunately, castration is an easy procedure and is surprisingly not that hard on a goat. With a minor painkiller, a castrated goat is usually back to his old self within a few hours after the procedure. The main decisions you have to make about castration are which bucks to castrate and which method to use.

In a story widely circulated among goat owners, a woman follows the sad life of a buck named Elmer that a family chose not to castrate. They love him as a kid, but then he grows up and is not so cute. They sell him to the next unwitting owner, and so on, until a scruffy, stinking Elmer is sold at auction for almost nothing and ends up alone in a field, tied to a stake and not properly cared for.

The story illustrates one reason you should castrate bucks unless you know they will be sold for meat: they outgrow their cuteness and become undesirable as pets. Other reasons you should castrate bucks:

  • You need only one buck to breed many does: Your herd is in its best shape if you allow only the best of the best to become breeders. Far too many people (especially novices) keep bucks that are not from the highest quality parents.

  • Bucks require a separate living space to keep kids safe: This also allows you to control breeding.

  • Bucks can be hard to handle: They're harder to handle and more likely than does or wethers to become aggressive — especially during breeding season.

  • Bucks stink, literally: They urinate on themselves during breeding season and have scent glands that put out an aroma that many people find unpleasant.

On the other hand, although wethers can get big, they are the sweetest of all goats, they don't stink, they make great pets and pack animals, and they don't go into heat and make a ruckus like does or bucks.

The ideal time to castrate a goat is when he is 8 to 12 weeks old. If you know that he will be used for meat, you can castrate as early as a week old. Castrating too early can predispose the goat to developing urinary stones because it may prevent the urethra (the passage from the bladder to outside the body) from developing to its full size. Castrating too late can lead to inadvertent breeding — bucklings as young as two months old have been known to breed does. A larger animal also is harder to restrain, and castrating late can cause more discomfort or medical problems for the goat.

Unless your buckling has a future as food or as a herd sire, mark your calendar for eight weeks after his birth and be sure to follow through with castration.

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