Onion Creek Ranch, Lohn, Texas
Suzanne W. Gasparotto, Onion Creek Ranch, Lohn, TX
Lohn, Texas
Onion Creek Ranch "Chevon, cabrito, goat... No matter what you call it, it is the HEALTHY red meat™
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Male goats have one purpose in life -- breeding. The instinct to reproduce is stronger than anything else -- even eating; bucks will often go off-feed when in rut. Producers should give much thought and preparation into buck housing, pasturing, and overall management. A primary consideration is good fencing. Good fences make good neighbors -- and prevent unplanned pregnancies -- by keeping does and bucks apart.

Do not pen or pasture bucks across a common fence from breeding-age does. Typical goat (or *field*) fencing will not prevent through-the-fence breeding. Don't depend upon gate chains or latches to keep does and bucks apart; wire gates shut and check them regularly. Rutting bucks and flagging does have been known to literally lift gates off hinges and "make a party." Does who get bred under such circumstances are known at Onion Creek Ranch as "party girls." Despite all our efforts, one or two does a year manages this feat.

The solution at Onion Creek Ranch has been to create a center alley 25 feet wide, with large paddocks to the left and right of it. Bucks are pastured on one side of the alley; does, on the other side. This of course means that bucks are up against other bucks during rutting season, so pasture fencing has been panelled over with 20 ft long by 4 ft high six-gauge "cattle panels" of 4" x 4" squares -- and they still beat up the fencing, but it contains them.

Polled (born without horns) bucks are pastured separately from horned bucks. When rutting season arrives in Texas' hot climate, bucks in a given pasture will select a buck to chase, harrass, mount, and generally treat as if he is a desired mate as they practice breeding techniques. If polled bucks are penned with horned bucks, that sought-after male is usually the less aggressive polled buck. Horns serve as radiators for removing heat from the goat's body. Polled bucks by definition have no radiators. This writer has lost two terrific polled bucks to death from heat stroke thanks to sexual harrassment by multiple horned males.

At Onion Creek Ranch, there are three buck pastures. The old bucks (over eight years of age) are pastured together. Bucks 18-24 months old to eight years of age occupy another paddock. Males under 18 months of age live in a third pasture. Since separate space for polled bucks usually isn't available, they are pastured with the youngest group of bucks over whom they can exert dominance.

When moving bucks into buck paddocks, the producer should be prepared for male-on-male activity to establish the new members' places in the pecking order. Goats are serious herd animals and have a fairly rigid pecking order within each herd. Minimize the problems that these actions will cause by (1) never introducing a single buck into a new herd; (2) taking climate/weather into consideration and moving them during the most favorable time of the day (coolest in hot climates and warmest in very cold climates, never during rain or snowstorms, etc.); and (3) penning bucks with other males of similar size and age. Example: Remove bucks from breeding pens and house two or more together for at least a week so that they can form their own mini-herd before moving them to the larger buck pasture. Think like a goat; both you and your goats will be less stressed.

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All information provided in these articles is based either on personal experience or information provided by others whose treatments and practices have been discussed fully with a vet for accuracy and effectiveness before passing them on to readers.

In all cases, it is your responsibility to obtain veterinary services and advice before using any of the information provided in these articles. Suzanne Gasparotto is not a veterinarian.Neither tennesseemeatgoats.com nor any of the contributors to this website will be held responsible for the use of any information contained herein.

The author, Suzanne Gasparotto, hereby grants to local goat publications and club newsletters, permission to reprint articles published on the Onion Creek Ranch website under these conditions: THE ARTICLE MUST BE REPRODUCED IN ITS ENTIRETY AND THE AUTHOR'S NAME, ADDRESS, AND CONTACT INFORMATION MUST BE INCLUDED AT THE BEGINNING OF THE REPRINT. We would appreciate notification from any clubs or publications when the articles are used. (A copy of the newsletter or publication would also be a welcome addition to our growing library of goat related information!)

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