Do You Love Your Buck?

 

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

Fall 2018 Dairy Goat Breeding Plans

I’m so excited to see kids from all these breedings! Contact Us if you are interested purchasing a kid from any of these planned breedings. Not all the kids will be available, but I can put you on a waiting list to be contacted when we decide who will be available.

All the kids will be at least 50% Oberhasli and some will be 75%. See our Dairy Goats page for more information about the breeding and show records of each of our animals. All does will be ADGA registerable as either experimental or grade experimental. Experimental bucks will be registarable as well.

Our whole dairy goat herd is CAE, CL, and Johne’s tested negative. Their last test was on 8/31/2018 done by UBRL. I can forward the lab report to you.

Dairy Goat Breedings Fall 2018

Doe:Bred To:
BELACRES GRETA

Planned Pedigree
RACHELSIE RUBEN JAMES
OUR FATHER'S GIFT CINNAMON

Planned Pedigree
RACHELSIE DREAM KEEPER
OUR FATHER'S GIFT CAYENNE

Planned Pedigree
RACHELSIE DREAM KEEPER
OUR FATHER'S GIFT BASIL

Planned Pedigree
RACHELSIE RUBEN JAMES
OUR FATHER'S GIFT ROSEMARY

Planned Pedigree
RACHELSIE RUBEN JAMES
OUR FATHER'S GIFT BLANCHETTE

Planned Pedigree
RACHELSIE RUBEN JAMES

Warren County Dairy Goat Show 2017

Warren County Dairy Goat Show was great! We showed 5 does:

BELACRES GRETA won Recorded Grade Grand Champion and Best of Breed.


OUR FATHER’S GIFT ROSEMARY won Recorded Grade Reserve Champion and Best Udder.


OUR FATHER’S GIFT BLANCHETTE won Recorded Grade Junior Reserve Champion.


OUR FATHER’S GIFT BRIGHTY won second in her class.


OUR FATHER’S GIFT VALERIS won third in her class.

Loss

To lose an animal will always be a trial for me.  I have loved and cared for that animal.  Planned their future, tried to make them happy.  And then all those hours, thoughts, dreams, and dollars seem wasted.

Over the years of farming, I have lost many animals.  Some were kids that never even got the chance to take their first breath.  Mothers have died and taken their unborn with them.  A favorite buck dies suddenly with no warning.  A gentle calf was never given the chance to run and jump for joy.  A beloved doeling, with all the potential in the world, dead.  And the list goes on.  And it hurts every time.  I would ask myself if there had been anything more I could have done for them.  Sometimes the answer was yes, and that is always when it hurt the most, because I felt like I had let them down somehow.

Had all the hours of stress and vet bills, trying desperately to bring that animal back from the brink of death, been wasted?  Did their life have any purpose? 

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.  Romans 8:28

As hard as it may be to see at the time, their lives, all of them, did have a purpose.  It’s my responsibility to make the most use out of their deaths, because I know that God is working even that out for my good.  I need to learn as much as possible from their deaths, so that maybe next time the outcome can be different.  Sometimes that has meant improving management, or nutrition.  Or keeping certain medications on hand and removing hazards from their pastures.  Maybe the only thing I got out of a death is to just spend more time in the barn and never take their lives for granted.

Whatever it is, I know I can trust God that their lives were not wasted.

Lenore Thorne

Lenore’s 2017 4-H Speech

4-H’s For Goats

I have been raising goats for most of my life…10 years to be exact.  I have always loved goats ever since I can remember, and the last 10 years has only increased my love and enthusiasm for these wonderful animals.  I was taking care of my mother’s herd of goats when I was about 7 years old, doing hoof-trimming, milking, and pulling kids when needed.  When I was 13 years old, my younger sister and I purchased our own goats with our personal savings.  Those first two milk goats that we got were the start of our herd of now over 20 dairy, meat, and fiber goats.

You may be wondering “why goats?” After all, I could have chosen to raise a multitude of other animals instead.  What makes goats so amazing that I would dedicate 10 years of my life to these animals?  You may be surprised to find out that my reason can be explained simply in the 4-H clover.  Yes, I am talking about the Head, Heart, Hands, and Health H’s of 4-H, and although you may have never thought that the 4-H clover had anything remotely to do with goats, by the end, I think you will agree that these four H’s are all about goats.

While some of my goats may be a little hard-headed, I hope that you are not.  By using your head, I think you will see that if you are considering a type of livestock to raise, goats almost always will come out as the logical choice.

Goats are extremely adaptable animals that thrive in many different environments and husbandry situations, making them a perfect choice for any homestead or serious farmer.  They can thrive on land that sheep and cows would turn their noses up at, and utilize brush and wooded areas that would go to waste with other livestock.  They don’t require elaborate housing, just a roof and 3 walls to block the wind. While fencing for goats is harder than for some other livestock, they do train well to electric fencing.  On our farm, I use step-in posts with four strands of poly wire to do rotational grazing, and 6 strands of electrified wire and t-posts for permanent fields. 

Dairy goats are more feed efficient than dairy cows and produce just the right amount of healthy  milk for a family, from about a half gallon each to nearly 2 gallons of milk a day, depending on the animal. They are also safer and easier to handle than cows due to their smaller size, which makes them a good first animal for children.

Kid goats mature quickly with doelings easily kidding their first time at about one year of age.  They often have twins and triplets, and we even have had one goat have quintuplets.  This can quickly multiply your profits.  And speaking of goat kids…that brings us the to next H on the clover which stands for heart, and seriously, who ever had the heart to turn down a baby goat!?

Yes, goats and their sweet kids certainly do beat all for cuteness!  And although cuteness alone is not necessarily a good reason to raise an animal, it does matter.  After all, you are the one that has to look at that animal 365 days a year.  So you might as well raise a cute one!  They come in all sorts of colors and patterns, some flashy with spots, and some with symmetrical lines.  Some even have thick white bands around their black bodies like Oreo cookies!  When you go to sell your goats, buyers will often even pay more for cuteness which is an extra bonus!

Raising goats gives 4-Her’s a unique way of using their hands, the third H on the clover.  I will not mince words, raising goats is a LOT of hard work.  Each day they must be fed and watered.  They need their fences maintained and cut under and their sheds mucked out each year.  If you raise dairy goats like me, they also need to be milked twice a day.  Fiber goats must be shorn twice a year.  You will also need to store away enough hay for winter, and take care of any goat that might get sick, protect the does and kids at birthing season, and trim their hooves and brush them regularly.

You may be wondering if all that hard work is really worth it, and I would say a resounding YES!Raising goats as a 4-H project gives you many opportunities, one of which is to show your animals.  Although showing is not for everyone, it is a great way to learn about conformation, and get a good opinion on the quality of your animals.  Of course, the best part about showing is when you get to walk out of the ring with a blue ribbon and sometimes even a money prize.

   Another opportunity to use your hands is by training a working goat. I have a very special goat named Alfred, and after lots of hard work, he is now trained to drive and pack.  I take Alfred out with his red wagon and we give rides to children around our neighborhood and that visit our farm.  We have also entered him in two parades.  The last parade that he was in, he won the Kid’s Choice Award.  After the parade, we stayed for several hours and gave free rides to the children there.  We have also taken a baby goat to a local nursing home to show to the residents.  Just use your imagination and you can come up with some pretty amazing ways to use your hands serving your community though goats. 

Raising fiber goats takes using your hands to a whole new level.  With angora goats producing around 8 pounds of mohair a year, you have a lot of fiber to work with.  I spin, knit, crochet, felt and weave which are all ways that use my hands and my goat’s fiber.

And finally, let’s remember the last H, health.  Health happens to be one of the biggest reasons people raise goats.  Many people that are lactose intolerant, or can’t drink cow’s milk, have no problem drinking goat’s milk.  Sadly, for this reason many people think of goat’s milk just as some kind of medicine that is only good for the sick.  Thankfully, that is not true at all!  Goat’s milk is better for everyone.  And it tastes wonderful too!  Yes, you heard me right, goat’s milk tastes wonderful, and I am not speaking only for myself, my entire family loves goat’s milk.  But, the health benefits of goat’s milk don’t stop in your glass.  Goat’s milk is great for making cheese and yogurt.  Also, many cosmetic products such as soap and lotion are made from goat’s milk and have a healthy effect on your skin.

Goat meat, is another healthy product that comes from raising goats.  Although goat meat is widely consumed around the world, it is often overlooked in the United States, though through no fault of its own.  Goat meat is a very lean meat that is comparable to lamb in flavor and consistency. 

Hopefully, you now have a better understanding of why I love goats and have raised them for  so many years.  And maybe, just maybe, you will now consider raising this amazing animal for yourself.  What could any 4-H’er want more than to raise an animal that is literally a walking 4-H clover…well not exactly, but still you can’t get much closer than a goat.  After all, what other animal exemplifies all of the four H’s so perfectly.

Lenore Thorne won first in Club and Second in Regionals with this speech.

In Memory of Sage

We lost Sage today.  Two days ago, she was the picture of health.  Yesterday morning, she had bloody scours and was off her feed and listless.  We treated her aggressively for coccidiosis and enterotoxemia, and tubed electrolytes every few hours, but she went downhill very fast.  She died in 24 hours.

She was one of our first and most beloved does.  I always loved her personality.  Loving, yet not pushy.  She was one of the goats that hummed when she was happy and just made you smile every time you looked at her.  She was a Nubian cross and had crazy half floppy ears that fit her perfectly.  Sage was such a wonderful mother, not only to her many kids, but to other doe’s kids too.  She would hang out with them and babysit while the other does were out grazing.  She would even let the other kids nurse on her.  But Sage’s mothering was not limited to goat kids, she extended her loving influence to the people kind as well.  She was the one to teach the littlest children showmanship and they always got a kiss out of the deal too.  Because Sage was such a big girl, she could give goat back rides to little children when they visited our farm.  She and a little girl named Evangeline made an especially strong connection.  Evangeline thought she was in heaven sitting on that goat’s back!   Sage was a hero in the eyes of the little children.  I loved Sage.  She was the first goat that I showed in 4-H.   I am so thankful to God for the time we had together.  We had hoped to have many more years with Sage, but instead of dwelling on the time we did not have, I rejoice in the time we did.  Sage’s life, though cut short, was by no means wasted.  Goodbye dear friend Sage.

The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.

Job 1:21b

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Sage Babysitting

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Sage with two of her doelings from this spring

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One of her favorite hangouts on the picnic table.

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Goodbye Sage