Castration options for goat kids

examining a buck for castration
 

It is a simple fact that you don’t need very many bucks for a dairy herd. Because a buck can sire dozens of kids, you should keep only the best for breeding. That means that a lot of bucklings will become pets, brush eaters, or meat. Unless they will be butchered in a few months, bucklings should be castrated because intact bucks get stinky and pee on themselves. They also tend to fight with each other during the breeding season. There are three methods of castration, and breeders can easily learn the methods themselves.

Banding
Banding is probably the most popular method of castration because it is simple and inexpensive. A rubber band the size of a penny is placed around the base of the scrotum using a special tool that opens up the band wide enough to get it over the testicles and in place. Some argue this is the most inhumane method of castration because it cuts off blood flow to the entire scrotal area, which causes everything below the band to atrophy and fall off. We used this method for a few years, and most bucklings didn’t seem terribly bothered by it. A few bucklings would scream for a few minutes up to an hour, and some would get very depressed for a few hours or a day following banding. Because of the anaerobic environment that exists under the band, there is a risk of tetanus with this type of castration.

Emasculator 

Emasculation method of castration

Emasculation is the safest method of castration because the skin is never broken, but it is not immediately obvious that you have done the job. With this method the cord that goes to each testicle is crushed using a special instrument called a burdizzo. Although a kid usually lets out a short bleat when the cord is clamped, most recover fully within fifteen minutes. Some cattle ranchers say they have an unacceptably high rate of failure with this type of castration, which makes sense when you see that a cattle burdizzo is quite large and requires the use of two hands to operate. The goat and sheep burdizzo is much smaller and can be closed with one hand by most people. We started using this method several years ago and have not had any failure.

Surgical Castration
When I had my first goats, I read that surgical castration was the most humane method, so I took my first kids to the vet for the surgical castration procedure. As we stood in the parking lot, I held the bucklings as the vet sliced open each side of the scrotum, pulled out each testicle and dropped it on the ground. He told me he was leaving the scrotum open so that it could drain because stitching it up would be more likely to result in an infection. Although the boys survived the ordeal and were just fine, I decided to look into other methods of castration. Some people do prefer surgical castration, though, and if you want to do it yourself, you should have a vet or an experienced breeder teach you.

castrated bucklings

This is Part 4 in our series on issues related to kidding season, which appears every Monday this month. It is an excerpt from Raising Goats Naturally: The Complete Guide to Milk, Meat, and More by Deborah Niemann.

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12 thoughts on “Castration options for goat kids”

    • If a buck is not going to be used for breeding, he should be castrated. Intact bucks do not make good pets because they stink and pee on themselves.

      Reply
  1. We have one little buckling we are planning on using the Emasculator on. He is acting VERY bucky with his sister,mom and aunt.. He is 5 1/2 weeks old. Is it too soon to do this? I have had ppl tell me not to do it until 12 weeks old. Any advice is welcomed. I’d like to get it done so I don’t have to separate him as he would be by himself but his health is first priority

    Reply
    • Acting bucky is very common with young kids. I’ve even had does act like that, although that is less common. A kid that age is not producing sperm. He’s just being dominant. I usually castrate at 8 weeks and have never had any problems with urinary calculi or unwanted pregnancies. In fact, I’ve waited until 3 months quite a bit and had no problems, but I start getting nervous at that point. As for his health, remember that separating him from his mother and putting him alone would stress him out terribly, and without mom’s antibodies and her milk, he’d probably have a case of coccidiosis in about 3 weeks.

      Reply
  2. New to goat ownership. We are learning fast though. We have three Nigerian Dwarf goats, whethers, two are ten weeks and one thirteen weeks. We are working on the right feed balance and would welcome any insight. They have orchard hay available to them most of the day, 1/2 C each grain daily, 2 T COB each with grain, fresh water, 2-3 hours browsing time in different fields where they tend to gravitate to berry bush leaves. I usually cut some berry branches for them in the evening when I put them up. Minerals for goats available as they want. Their water intake between the three of them is only about a gallon a day. Open to any suggestions. Darling little guys..so much fun…lots of handling too!

    Reply
    • Once they are about 6 months old or 40 pounds, they don’t really need the grain any longer, so you can wean them off of it then. COB is just empty calories. That’s used for fattening up meat animals, and it doesn’t sound like that’s the destiny of these boys. Wethers do fine with a good, green grass hay, plenty of pasture or browse, as well as free choice loose minerals and plenty of clean water. They are very easy keepers. Here is more on feeding goats — https://thriftyhomesteader.com/what-do-goats-eat-it-depends/

      Reply
  3. Hi. Im in a bit of a dilemma here; i have a buckling whos over 3 months old (born on january 11th)…i meant to keep him for a while, so i put off castration for a while. we always used the vet for surgical castration because there isnt many options (here in Bangladesh , hardly anyone has heard of banding or emasculators…and they arent available anywhere) . i tried looking on amazon…but they dont deliver here yet…especially from overseas. so, long story short; i am now trapped home since march because of the pandemic lockdown…and the vet isnt opened. the problem is, the buckling has started mounting his sister and mother…and im scared to death of an unwanted inbreeding. he screams terribly when separated from his mother…and i dont really have any separate pen from them. should i attempt to castrate him on my own? i have a pretty good idea of the procedure, and have done similar stuff before, so im not queasy. But i want your advice because im worried that now that hes older it might be more dangerous for him? i really dont want to hurt him. Sorry for the essay….any advice is appreciated.

    Reply
    • I wouldn’t be too worried about inbreeding. Here is more on that topic:
      https://thriftyhomesteader.com/inbreeding-livestock/
      The main concern would be getting a doe pregnant before she is big enough to be able to give birth safely. They need to be about 2/3 of their adult weight before breeding.

      It also depends on whether the goats in your area breed seasonally. Some goats would not be coming into heat until fall, so there would be no risk of pregnancy, even if a buck mated a doe because she would not be ovulating. I have also found that bucks can mate before they are producing sperm, so he may not be able to get a doe pregnant yet. The youngest buck I’ve had successfully breed a doe was 5 months, and younger bucks did have the opportunity, so you are getting close to when he could do it — IF the does are in heat.

      Surgical castration at this age should not be done without anesthesia. There is also a risk of more bleeding than if he were younger, so I probably wouldn’t attempt it.

      You might try a buck apron —
      https://thriftyhomesteader.com/buck-apron/

      Reply
  4. Our beautiful smart strong and healthy 15 months pet buck just died after surgical castration done by a vet, anesthesia was suppose to wear off in 30 minutes but he only cane round 8 hours later blind unable to stand completely brain damaged, vet had no idea what went wrong(!?), we are gutted

    Reply
    • I’m so sorry to hear this. Unfortunately, this is not uncommon. Goats do not do well with anesthesia, and if your vet didn’t know this, that’s a bad sign. This is why people don’t use anesthesia for things like castration and disbudding and tattooing, and we do them when the kids are younger, and it is not so traumatic. Males are normally castrated by 2-3 months without anesthesia. I’m a big fan of using a Burdizzo, which is completely bloodless, so there is zero risk of tetanus or infection, and the goats get over within minutes because it’s just a pinch.

      Reply

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