How to Wean, Fatten and Butcher Goats

A guide on how to wean, fatten and butcher goats, includes information on castrating goats, feeding goats, slaughtering and skinning goats.

  • Learn how to wean, fatten and butcher goats.
    Learn how to wean, fatten and butcher goats.
    Photo By Fotolia/Alessio Orrù

  • Learn how to wean, fatten and butcher goats.

Learn how to wean, fatten and butcher goats for the homestead.

How to Wean, Fatten and Butcher Goats

Although we're now settled on a small spread in New Mexico, this particular back-to-the-land family actually learned to butcher goats about five years ago when we lived on a little farm in Missouri. We bought two milk goats with two kids apiece that spring . . . one of those kids was a buck . . . and that buck was destined for the pot from the beginning.

To Castrate or Not to Castrate

When folks "who knew" heard about our plans, they all told us that we should castrate the buck if we planned to eat him. So, when the kid was about three months old, we had him clamped. This is an operation performed with a huge pair of pinchers that crush the cords linking the testicles with the body. (Once the cords are pinched in this manner, the testicles gradually atrophy during the next couple of months.)

Clamping certainly seems to cause a buck a lot less pain than I had feared, and I highly recommend this form of castration over "cutting" (which is the actual removal of the testicles with a knife, a method that carries the attendant twin risks of blood loss and infection). On the other hand, we now know that there's no need to castrate a buck goat at all if you plan to butcher him before he matures . . . which is the way we've learned to handle the situation.

Weaning and Fattening Up Goats

The kids were already six weeks old when we brought them, and they'd been nursing all that time. We knew that weaning was going to be a problem and we lost no time in getting started on the job.

For a month we allowed the kids to nurse only at night and kept them separated from their mothers during the day. After that, we fed the young goats a little 16% dairy ration and milk to supplement their pasture . . . and kept them away from the does at all times. Their nursing habit was so strong, however, that it was a total of four more months before they could be turned back in with the mothers without trying to suck. Moral: If you plan to wean your goats, wean them early.

8/23/2020 6:11:59 AM

Thankyou for this article! I was just wondering, if you shoot the goat in the head (which is a what we have been doing) can you still use the brains? I have assumed not. I suppose that’s why in some places they prefer to knock them out first? It sounds really complicated

8/19/2019 2:17:14 PM

I want to thank you for your article. I have begun to raise meat goats for sale to 4-H kids and then, hopefully to a bigger market. However, I also want to use the meat for my family as well. We've had a family butcher for years, but with this new adventure, I find myself getting so involved with the acre of the goats that I want to move to the next level and begin to butcher my own meat. I've been struggling for a long time now with the act of taking the life. I've never had a hard time processing the animal after it's been dispatched, but I cannot seem to get myself to the point where it seems "okay" to take the life. Your care for the welfare of your animals is evident in your writing and I appreciate that you took the same care in explaining the process to us. While I still don't feel completely ready for the task, your explanation makes me see that, when done with care, it is "okay". Thank you.

8/2/2019 5:58:18 AM

Thank you so much for the encouragement! I have a small herd we keep just for us and its hardly worth the processing fees by the time we get our meat from the butcher. I'm going to start setting up a spot to butcher here at home this winter!

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