Do You Love Your Buck?

Over my many years of raising goats, I have heard countless stories of mean, dangerous, and uncontrollable bucks.  While I do not deny that those animals exist, I believe that nearly all of them would not have been a problem if they had been properly handled from birth.  Many people say that they love goats, when in reality they only love the does, wethers and kids.  They see bucks as smelly, sticky, gross, dirty animals that only exist to make more does, milk and kids – a “necessary evil,” if you will.  If you can’t see through all the urine-soaked hair and stench to appreciate him for what he is and for what he adds to your farm, then it would be much better for you and the buck if you artificially inseminate your does or bring them to someone else’s buck each year for breeding.  That said, if you’re up to the challenges of giving that big sticky guy a hug, then welcome to the wonderful smelly world of bucks! 

Holden with Saanen buck Valor

Bucks are amazing animals and they all have unique personalities.  Some are gentle and calm.  Others are rude and obnoxious.  Some are even dangerous.  In most ways, they are just like does and wethers and they deserve to be treated just as well too. Don’t lock them up by themselves and expect them to be happy.  They need another goat as a companion and should have all the same quality care that you would give to your does.  However, they are not exactly like does and wethers.  Because they are male animals, they do have the potential be more dangerous and unpredictable.  Often they are bigger and stronger than you, which gives them an intimidation factor.  In order for you to enjoy the company of your bucks, and handle them safely, the relationship must be one of mutual respect.  People create dangerous bucks because they do not respect them from the start.  You may think it is fun and cute for a buck to butt you when he is a little kid, but this behavior is very dangerous and should never be allowed at any age. The same goes for standing and jumping on you.  You will have a very dangerous animal on your hands if you allow him to get away with this kind of behavior.  It will not be funny when he is 300lbs! 

Just as he should never be allowed to disrespect you, you must always give him his due respect too.  Don’t grab at his horns if he has horns.  If he is polled or disbudded, don’t push on the top of his head.  He will see that as a challenge.  Always be aware that he is a potentially dangerous animal, and like any male animal, he can be unpredictable.  Don’t “trust” him.  I absolutely love my bucks.  I give them hugs and go on walks with them, but I always watch my back and am aware of where they are around me especially when they have horns.  Even if they are not trying to hurt you, they can sometimes run up beside you and catch you with them. Don’t get too scared though.  Most of the bucks I have owned have been gentle and easy to handle as long as they have been treated properly. 

Lenore with her Angora buck Joules

Training them to lead as bucklings will also make handling them a lot easier when they are big.  Some of my bucks have been trained to lead well by their beards or the scruff of hair above their shoulders.  They should still be trained to lead with a collar or halter too, but it is nice sometimes to just have something to hold them by when you need to get control of them quickly. 

If you are not starting with a kid, you may end up with a buck that already has bad habits.  Bottle bucklings in particular are predisposed to being more dangerous.  He must be strictly disciplined for his bad behavior.  Normally a good whack to the nose is enough for rude behavior like flapping his tongue at you.  Never lose your temper with any animal, kicking and hitting him!  You are the one that will end up getting hurt.  His head is a lot harder than you, especially if he has horns.  If he is a truly dangerous animal though, don’t keep him.  There are so many good-tempered bucks out there that it is not worth the risk.  Nor is it a good idea to breed that kind of temperament into his kids.  We have sometimes culled bucks for meat because they were just too dangerous. 

Hopefully this has not scared you away from ever having a buck.  That was never my intention.  I do hope that you now have a better understanding of how to handle them in a way that will make them fun and safe so you can enjoy your big stinky guys to their fullest.

Written By Lenore Thorne

Lenore with her oberhasli buck Ruben

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