So you want to use a buck apron?

buck apron

There is really nothing new about buck aprons, but they are new in the US and Canada, and lots of people are asking about them. Does a buck apron work? Should you buy one or make one? How do you use a buck apron? Should you use one? But first, let’s start with a simpler question…

What is a buck apron?

A buck apron looks a lot like a human apron that is tied around a buck’s waist. It creates a barrier, which theoretically makes it impossible for him to breed does. In some designs, there is a weight at the bottom of the apron that keeps it hanging straight down under the middle of the buck’s body.

Why use a buck apron?

Historically, they’ve been used because people didn’t keep their bucks and does separated. In some parts of the world, they don’t fence their livestock, so bucks and does are together all the time.

Today, some people with smaller herds want to use them because they may have only one buck, and they don’t want to put him in a pen all by his lonesome self. (Goats are herd animals and hate being alone!)

Karen Stark of OOH RAH Dairy Goats in Rockwood, TN, uses buck aprons for bucklings that she does not want to wean yet. Because some bucklings can breed earlier than others (and you don’t know which ones can do it until it’s too late) most people separate them from their mothers around 2 to 3 months of age. But by using buck aprons, Karen has been able to leave them together longer.

Karen said there is also an unexpected benefit of using a buck apron. “The apron prevents the buck from peeing on his face as much. He’s able to get it a bit, but not a direct hit. And the front legs are blocked entirely, so I guess that’d help with urine scald.”

How do you use a buck apron?

It’s not quite as simple as just putting the apron around the buck’s middle section. “One problem people have is keeping the apron too tight. If it’s too tight, it CAN be turned around to the side and stay there, allowing him to breed. Not to mention being uncomfortable!” says Karen, “There’s a ‘sweet spot’ where the apron is tight enough to stay forward, but loose enough to swing freely side to side, allowing the weights to keep it centered below him.”

Because bucks pee on the apron, they need to be cleaned periodically. “I hang it on a fence post when I’m done using it for a week or so and let the rain clean it off for me,” Karen said. “Could also hit it with a strong hose I’m sure, but I didn’t relish the blech splashing off onto me. LOL.”

Do they work?

That depends on who you ask. Karen has had great luck with House of Bacchus buck aprons. She’s used them on Nigerian dwarf, Oberhasli, LaMancha, and Nubian bucklings.

Deb Flint of Dancingdragon Goat Farm in Columbia, KY, made a few different ones for her Nigerian dwarf bucks from plans she found online, and none of them worked. She found them unhooked, untied, or moved to the side, and she wound up with kids from some of the does that were pastured with the bucks wearing aprons.

Why NOT use a buck apron?

Obviously, the aprons don’t work 100 percent of the time. So, it’s probably not a great strategy to use that as your only means of birth control in your herd. I would definitely not assume that I could let all the bucks and does run together, if the bucks are wearing aprons. DNA testing all of your kids five months later could get expensive.

Second, this is not a great option for dairy goats, if you’re talking about a mature buck. Even without the risk of pregnancy, those with dairy goats keep the bucks separate because if a buck is with does, he’ll be rubbing on them, and you will have stinky milk. Who wants milk that tastes like you just licked a buck?

Have you used a buck apron?

Since I’m not keeping any bucklings this year, and I am not going to put mature bucks in with my milkers, I’m not able to test out a buck apron with my goats. Have any of you used a buck apron? What kind? How did it work for you? Do you have any tips that could help others? Share in the comment section below.

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35 thoughts on “So you want to use a buck apron?”

  1. I have the Bacchus Johnson aprons and used them last year on my bucks and only separated when a doe was in heat. Kept them all together till a month before kidding or if the boys were to bucky with pregnant does. The shields are now on the young bucklings starting around 2 months old still with moms and all the other does and kids. Works great!!!!! Highly recommend them.

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  2. I had one made 4 years ago for my young buck. It worked fine. I didn’t know there was actually something out there that I thought about. I could have a larger one made for him now but I won’t. He doesn’t mind being on the other side of the fence of the does. He’s happier if I have horses out there with him.

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  3. Running dairy bucks with the milking does will NOT make the milk stink.

    Milk stinks because of poor sanitation, or because the girls got hold of some garlic mustard or similar weed.

    My buck runs with the girls, even when stinky. The milk is not affected at all. (And you can ask others who enjoy the milk.)

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    • When a doe is in heat, and the doe is being bred, the doe and her milk will be really gross. Some bucks will rub their head on the doe’s udder, so even your hands will stink when you milk her. So the problem with letting your buck stay with does all the time is that you don’t always know when she’s going to come in heat, and you could get a nasty surprise in the milking parlor. Since we keep our does separate, we know when they’ve been with a buck, and we milk them last. If we smell buck when we’re milking them, we just give the milk to the pigs or chickens. Usually one day is enough, but sometimes it takes two days for the stink to die down.

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      • Not true at all. The reason your milk srinks is because u did not put it in ice right away.. The faster it cools the less it stinks.. I have 15 goats and 2 smelly bucks with them and the milk does not stink and neither do the udders.

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        • If a buck is rubbing on a doe’s udder, the milk stinks from the moment it comes out of the udder. Cooling it does nothing to get rid of that stink. In fact, no one has figured out a way to eliminate the stink from milk once it’s there. Rapid cooling is important to slow the growth of normal skin bacteria that will cause milk to have an off-taste after a couple of days.

          Not all bucks rub on the udders, and those that do usually only do it when a doe is in heat. So, if you have not experienced this, it is simply because your bucks are not rubbing on the udders.

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          • It is not the cooling of the milk or the buck. It’s the minerals. But I know that even saying that some will agree, but others will think our smeller or taster is off. That may be sometimes, but not always.

            I used to make raw natural yogurt. I strained the milk, sat it on the counter until it got thick, it was not cooled first. It never tasted off or Bucky/goaty. It was sweet and creamy, it took awhile to develop a yogurty twang, but never goaty. I did run my buck with the goats… he was stinky too! We all believe what we want.

            I just bought the baccuhas goat apron. After reading your post, I think I may have it too tight… thanks for that bit of information!

          • It is true that some mineral deficiencies can cause off-flavored milk, but there is nothing that will get rid of buck stink. If there was a mineral that would get rid of buck stink, we would all be using it.

          • Have you ever tried washing the udder? I wash very doe’s udder before milking and have never had stinky or off tasting milk – even after i know they are in heat and i had them bred to my buck. I agree any ‘bucky’ milk comes from lack of sanitation and 100% any off tasting milk i ever had was from mine getting into a Cedar patch or them having low minerals.

          • Again, if your buck isn’t rubbing on the doe’s udder, you might not have a problem. We do wash udders before milking, but as I already mentioned, it is impossible to get the buck stink off of it. It’s even challenging to get buck stink off your hands after handling bucks, and we’re washing our hands with soap under running water — usually lathering up repeatedly.

  4. I agree running the bucks with the does taints the milk regardless of how sanitary the operation is. The problem is due to a phenomenon called sensory adaptation, when we are around the bucks regularly ourselves we develop a tolerance to their smell and no longer notice it in the milk. I assure you the herdshare members can tell if the buck has been near the does even though they never see it. They will ask why the flavor was stronger. Also adult bucks (4 years old or older) have a stronger smell so those using young bucks will likely not notice his smell.

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  5. On my first year experience with using a buck apron: I looked at the House of Bacchus apron syles last winter, and I noticed I had yards of vinyl I’d purchased years ago, so I purchased some dollar store adjustable collars (Large) and made some curved vinyl pockets in 4 sizes for my buck kids & juniors. the pockets were sewn like pillows, with an opening at top for the collar to slip through, and I put a limestone rock in eachone (from our driveway gravel) to weight it down. We had 7 buck kids this year in mixed gender, dam-raised litters. the buck kids all got aprons by 6 weeks, and some of the little guys kept them on unti about 20 weeks when I finally put them in with the big bucks part time. They were able to nurse until 16 weeks, which has promoted good bone growth & digestive health. The only thing I found concerning with the little bucks and their sisters was that, at nap time, they flop in a pile. When lying down, the buck’s procreative tool can and did snake out past the apron unimpeded, and a sister might be (was) flopped down with in front. I removed the buck kids from the mixed kid group at 12 some weeks after I noticed this and brought them back for periods to play and nurse. I wouldn’t recommended aprons in a situation where the doe absolutely shouldn’t get bred, but I think during the natural nursing cycle, they’re great.
    On aprons for adult bucks, I might use them short term for situations like show transport (out of rut of course) , when stress makes the animals less likely to breed anyway, but I’d be caustious of the same situation I saw in the kids happening at naptime. The little bucks who grew up in aprons seemed to like wearing them.

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  6. I am the founder of the original Buck Apron on Feb 2014 designed from the olor in Africa. I worked on the buck apron design until Dec 2017 when the patent process started. The final design stays on and does not snag. My bucks have been wearing the same aprons for around 18 months.
    Anti mating Apron for goats, sheep, cows….
    Patent Pending Status 16/407,853
    We will now start the process of production.

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  7. I am a big fan of the Bacchus Johnson Shield and have been using them since I started my small herd a few years back. The site may be updated by now, but a couple years ago I needed one smaller than the sizes advertised, and I contacted the owner, and she does make one that small. I have been able to keep my babies with the herd continually. They also come with a strap you can attach around the chest/neck. Then you can keep the apron strap loose enough so that the weight works to keep it in position. They are more needed for the smaller size apron, before the goat has the typical goat stomach; when their bellies are lean and one straight size, it solves the problem of movement. And the owner is very amiable and quick to work with you.
    Kelly

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  8. Lots of good info. I would prefer to be able to leave my bucklings nursing till about 7 months instead of having to wean them at 3 months and was curious about aprons and how well they work. Thanks for the post.
    On the stinky milk issue, I’ve never had an issue. But I also have British Guernseys and I’ve noticed that these bucks do not smell anywhere close to as strong as other breeds I’ve had. During rutting season especially, I could smell the other breed bucks a half mile away! My Guernsey bucks, you have to be right up on them to smell them and even then it is at a very tolerable level. My previous bucks ( nubian, alpine, oberhasli) I didn’t want to be anywhere near them it was so bad.

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    • I have a Golden Guernsey buck, he’s 3 now; and agree, he barely smelled at all his first 2 years; this year he didn’t until just a month ago; but it’s not any where close to the stinkiness of other bucks we’ve had ( Alpine or Nubian bucks ) and 10 months or so out of the year you don’t know he’s around.

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  9. Sizing is VERY important to the success of your OLORâ„¢ Buck Apron! There are 7 sizes in each style with apron lengths range from 8 1/2″ – 20 1/2″. Also, there is an option of a 2″ hem for growing bucklings. When buckling has grown in height the hem is removed to give 2″ additional length. https://buckapron.com/

    Reply
    • Hi Ann,
      I’ve just been looking at your aprons for my mature nubian billy. Gonna measure him now but guessing I’m gonna need quite a large one.
      I’m in the UK, do you only ship from US? It’s looking very expensive for me.
      Kara

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      • Unfortunately Kara, we only ship from the US. You are correct, overseas shipping isn’t cheap! Wish I knew of a lower cost option, but we have definitely shipped to the UK. Make sure you choose first class mail international at checkout. It’s the most affordable and not too unreasonable. We are happy to ship your order if you decide to choose our products. Thanks for your interest!

        Reply
  10. Well I’ll be darned! Again learning something ‘new’ as I enjoy your newsletter/blog articles. Hmmm, buck aprons….wonder if they make’em for horny old Labrador retrievers who will mount almost anything on 4 legs?
    And I thought the little red chicken spectacles were a hoot! VERY interesting stuff here!

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  11. Update: I used aprons on three bucklings this past summer which I wanted to leave with their dams. They were aproned at 3mths until 6mths and breeding was successfully avoided! I think this year I might try it with one of my adult bucks. It would make my life so much easier if I didn’t have to separate them during rutting season.

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  12. We use the Bacchus buck apron on our bucklings we don’t sell right away. Before we sell them if they are older like 2 or 3 mo we make sure they are wearing a apron before leaving the farm. They work really good! We recently bought a buckling and plan to keep him in the barn with the herd for a few months. We plan to use a apron with him until we have his pen and house built. They are great aprons and this system works great for our farm. Highly recommend the Bacchus aprons.

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  13. I made mine with heavy table cloth material. I found it required a breast strap to help keep in place. It worked great until the buck started jumping fences or just basic wear from the pasture they are in (going over logs) wears the apron quickly. i would not recommend it for a buck that cannot be easily handled.

    Reply
    • We’ve gotten 4 from http://www.buckapron.com
      There’s one type there specifically recommended for anti-mating that we chose. The plain, cheaper ones were only recommended for a urine shield. These we have are heavy duty and wrap around the goats belly a little bit. So far, they seem to work perfect, and we’ve had them for months. They fit snug, and feel indestructible.

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  14. We only have one buck at a time for our herd so I’ve been running them with the does full time for about 6 years. June does a great job with her House of Bacchus buck aprons. They are heavy duty and there is an option to buy it with a chest strap which adds some more insurance.
    In the first 5 years I had no unwanted pregnancies. Very successful!
    But last year we had a buckle get snagged and broke, of course when two does were in heat! And I will warn you that if you do not have the right size apron in your buck, it can slip to the side and that’s how another doe was accidentally bred. But this only happened with the chest strap version because it held it off to one side a tiny bit and can keep it from centering itself with the weights.
    But if you do it right, I think the aprons are very valuable and will keep the buck from being alone. Although, he sometimes does seem to get a bit frustrated : ) As do the does!
    I will have to agree with some comments here that I have never had off tasting milk and have always housed and run the bucks with the girls for 15 years. My bucks rub and rub, but maybe not on the udders! Maybe that’s a Nigie trait?
    Glad to hear that Ann is also making aprons!

    Reply

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