If you want your does in milk, first they need to have baby goats. To have baby goats the does must be bred first. To breed a buck is needed. Sounds simple, right? The options to impregnate a doe are artificial insemination, rent or borrow a buck, or own a buck to use for breeding.
First, let’s clarify a buck is an intact male goat over one year old. You may have heard them referred to in laymen’s terms as a billy goat. A buckling is an intact young male goat less than a year old. And a wether is a castrated male goat.
Before buying a buck goat there are a few things you should know.
1) Goats are domesticated, but not “trained”. All goats can be ornery and bucks are the most stubborn of goats.
2) Bucks can be quite stout. Generally, “finessing” works better than brute force when trying to lead, move, or work with them.
3) Bucks stink (some more than others). A buck in rut has a much stronger stench. Scent glands at the base of the horns add to the male goat’s odor. This odor is important to make him desirable to the doe. Although a buck can be descented, some females will not mate with a buck without the odoriferous attraction. Even when not in rut it is best to keep them separate from does while milking so the milk and anything produced from the milk is not tainted from the scent.
4) While it is best to keep a buck separate from milking does, it is best not to keep them in solitude. Goats are herd animals and tend to cause more trouble when completely separated from the herd. If at all possible provide a friend like a wether.
5) A buck is more aggressive while in rut especially with other bucks. Always use caution around a buck in rut even if he is normally gentle.
6) A buck in rut will display lip curling or “grinning”. It is hilariously funny.
7) A buck in rut urinates on his forelegs, face, beard, and in his mouth. It is quite the spectacle.
8) Usually following the urination display, a buck will nip at the side of a doe in heat and mount the doe. It isn’t as romantic as it sounds.
Although owning a buck may not be for the faint at heart, we still prefer to own a buck rather than renting or borrowing a buck for breeding. Breeding can go much smoother and faster if all parties are familiar with each other as well. Some does need to become familiar with the buck before cooperating to being mounted. Also, anytime you allow animals from other farms into your livestock or take your animal among other livestock on another farm there is always the slight risk of disease.
Our Nigerian Dwarf buck’s name is Alfonso. We bought him a couple of years ago as a proven sire to breed our does. He does have a slight smell, but when he is not in rut it is barely noticeable. He even does not mind being kept separately from the girls. The key is that he has to be pastured with them or so far away he cannot see or smell them. We are fortunate to have a buck with one of the best temperaments I’ve seen. Yet, still Alfonso is a buck and he does his job well.