Warning: strong opinions will be voiced in this article. I am pretty passionately outspoken about my thoughts on how buck kids are treated but remember, you came here to this website to read and what you’re going to get here is me. It’s also meant to be an exaggerated, humorous look at the way Internetland approaches raising buck kids and hopefully lend some perspective to the fear that pervades goat groups about the risks of impregnation. So with that out of the way, let’s get into Megan’s 5 rules for raising healthy buck kids.
Rule #1: Stop Looking at Penises
For realsies. I’ve had hundreds of kids, so at least hundred of buck kids and you know how many times I’ve bothered about when a buck kid is “extending”? Not once. Ever. That magical barometer on whether or not a buck kid is able to do the deed seems to have not been explained to my buck kids, because regardless of the activity of their parts, none of them before my normal weaning age has managed to get anyone pregnant. I happily live my life free of buck penis examining and think you can, too.
Rule #2: Stop Making Unweaned Buck Kids Wear Aprons
How humiliating. Imagine it: you’re just a kid out trying to have fun and Mom comes in all bubble wrap and worry and now you can’t even run and jump because you’re so encumbered by the results of her fear. And as it turns out, our kids are not better off for our risk intervention; the same applies to goats.
Though we’ll probably never see any studies on this, I would venture that a bulky object hanging down in the center of the spine, being stepped on and flopped around, is potentially setting the stage for structural issues in young kids whose development is happening at lightning speed. Caveat: I’m also a vehemently vocal opponent of buck aprons in general, so take this opinion for what it’s worth, not a whole lot unless it resonates. My job is to give you thinking points so you can decide.
Rule #3: Stop Weaning Early and/or Doing Supervised Nursing Visits
My gosh. The way social media has hyped up the “ZOMG every buck is a disgusting animal who is born trying to hump everything that walks and YOUR GOATS WILL DIEEEEEEEEEEE IF YOU DON’T WEAN HIM AT 6 WEEKSSSSS” is so over the top, yet if you’ve never raised up kids before, you will likely believe it’s true. It’s not. It’s really, really not. While there are those stories of bucks who have gotten someone pregnant when they were less than 8 weeks old, I think it’s incredibly rare. I don’t personally know of an instance where that has happened. I can say with certainty it is not true in my herd of Nigerians, well known to be the most prolific of goat breeds. I don’t wean my retained kids until 12 weeks old. Sold kids stay on until 10 weeks old. Bucks live with their moms unrestricted until then and never in over a decade of kidding have we had a buck impregnate a doe before 16 weeks.
Rule #4: Trust that Nature Would Not Kill Out a Species with Too-Soon Breeding
If baby buck kids could consistently breed baby doe kids and this was going to have the terrible outcomes the Internet promises you, how could goats as a species managed to have thrived for thousands of years without our careful intervention, early weaning and buck aprons? “Well, nature didn’t keep them in pens.” Not buying it as a logical argument. Being in captivity does not make them any biologically more or less capable of doing what they do. As a general policy observable in nature, if they’re capable of becoming pregnant, they’re capable of raising babies. Obviously we don’t want to intentionally push the envelope on breeding times, but it’s important to think of how likely the worst case scenario–ie, doe kids bred too soon and unable to kid–really will be in real life herds. There’s always someone to warn you about the dangers of literally every single thing you might contemplate doing. It’s up to you to be discerning and not let someone else’s fear become your own without justification. Pro tip: there’s never a justification for fear based decision making outside of its original intent, to keep us alive in life or death situations. If we still had to use that instinct for actual survival, I guarantee you we’d care a whole lot less about what that buck kid is contemplating.
Rule #5: Remember that the Internet Concentrates the Worst of the Worst Stories
How often do you see someone come into a Facebook group to say, “My buck didn’t make my doe pregnant when he was 12 weeks old!”? Not very often, I’d venture. People don’t post about their wins and successes. They post to get help with problems most of the time. If you gauge the entirety of goat raising on what you read in online groups, you’re not getting an even remotely accurate picture of what it’s like.
We had someone in the goat group the other day questioning whether goats were for them. They were so worried based on all the horror stories they were reading online about how much work it takes to keep goats alive that they were contemplating having them at all! It’s simply not true in real life. My goats routinely don’t die, don’t get young other goats pregnant, don’t get sick, don’t get communicable diseases and also–importantly–don’t have their natural lives hampered by my fear of what if.
Yes, there are very rare occasions where a buck kid might be able to get a doe pregnant before weaning, but if I had to toss out a number, I’d guess that less than 0.5% of all pregnancies begin from bucks who did the deed before they were 8 weeks old. Do we really want to spend all that time, effort and worry over an almost nonexistent risk? I’d rather let my goats live their lives and, more importantly from my busy businesswoman/mother/homeschooler/lover of NOT SPENDING ALL MY TIME WORRYING ABOUT GOATS perspective, I’d rather be able to live my life without that misery and worry hanging over my head.
This is my invitation to you to do the same.
Continue the discussion in the Buck forum.