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Homesteading and Livestock

Self-reliance and sustainability in the 21st century.


Wethering Heights: Neutering Male Goats

Rollo when he was bornMy current goat kid tally was a bit dismal: five bucklings and one doeling. While I don’t have anything against male kids per se, everyone wants females and bucklings are considered undesirable since they don’t produce milk.

Too Many Bucklings

I already have a buck: Oreo. And while I’ll need a new buck to replace him, I don’t need them all now. Bucks are obnoxious and stinky. They pee on their beards and front legs. During rut, they’re difficult at best. Having six bucks during rut is impossible. Plus there’s absolutely no way I could keep them all away from the girls.

What that means is that I have a lot of meat on the hoof. Goat meat is very tasty – a low fat version of beef – and is very healthy. But buck meat is darn near inedible, so you have to neuter or wether the bucklings.

Wethers Make Good Pets

Another reason to wether a buck is that wethers make exceptional pets. If you’re looking for weed eaters on the cheap, wethers fulfill that roll nicely. Want a pack goat? Think wether. Want a low maintenance goat? Yep, wether again. You can keep wethers in with the girls and never worry about having the does accidentally bred. Wethers don’t fight like bucks either. So, there are plenty of reasons to have wethers instead of bucks. The downside is that they don’t give milk, of course.

This may or may not be an issue to you. For me, all my livestock must do something to earn their keep. So wethers will eventually go to freezer camp.

How I Wether Goats

Other people wether goats in various ways. I band my bucklings when they reach 3 months old. Younger than that and you run the risk of urinary problems. The way I do it can be considered somewhat controversial because not everyone thinks of it as humane. The truth is if you band quickly, there’s no pain. None of my bucklings have ever cried or even made noise while I banded them. The only time I’ve had them scream is when they got tired of being held – and that was before I had a chance to band them.

The Elastator

You use an evil looking device called an Elastator, which you put the neutering band on the four prongs. When you squeeze the handles, the prongs open where you slip the scrotum into the neutering band. You can’t be squeamish with this as you must make certain that both testes are well within the scrotum before you close the prongs and slip the band off of the prongs. The band cuts off blood flow to the testes and they wither and die in a couple of weeks.

The main concern is to not get either nipple caught inside the band. They’re very close to the scrotum so if you’re not sure, keep a set of scissors handy in case you have to cut the band and try again.

It’s best to have a partner hold the buckling sitting on his rear with his legs splayed so you can get at the scrotum. It usually requires that person sitting behind the kid while you perform the banding. Today I actually banded Rollo while he was standing up in the milk stand, happily munching on sweet feed. This was, by far, the least stressful banding. Given that Rollo is skittish with humans and doesn’t like being handled, it shows just how simple and gentle it really is — at least for goats.