See this guy here? We recently leased him from Fort Lucas Farm to breed to our two girls. He’s handsome, isn’t he? Don’t let the good looks fool you. He’s as nasty as they come. But it’s not his fault.
He’s just a buck in rut.
A buck in rut is a raging ball of hormones; worse than 10 adolescent boys. He performs all kinds of goaty mating rituals. Some of them are amusing, but some are just plain gross.
Bucks in rut will do anything to get time with the ladies, so it is important to have strong fencing. Intact male goats can become aggressive as they strive to maintain breeding rights. Competing bucks will battle each other and may need to be separated for peace on the farm.
A once sweet goat can also turn on their owners if they perceive them as competition. This (and a goat’s sense of humor) leads to the number one rule of goat keeping: Never turn your back on a goat. Luckily, Bobcat is not as aggressive.
Loses his good looks
A buck in rut is made for one thing – breeding, and he is good at it. So good, that a fully grown, 3-year-old male can mate with up to 40 does in one season! All this business makes him forget about taking care of himself. A buck in rut will often forgo food; he will become skinny and his coat will lose its shine. Therefore, it is very important to feed bucks with nutritional hay and supplement with grain to help them out.
Catching the stream
One thing about bucks that is a 10 on the gross scale: they like urine. A doe in heat will urinate in front of a buck and he will stick his face right into it. Then he will stand up, throw his head back and curl up his front lip (it’s called the Flehmen response). While the facial expression is quite amusing (his, not yours!), it also serves a purpose. The curled lip helps the buck smell the urine and decide if the doe is in estrus and will accept his attention.
In addition to liking female urine, the buck likes to bathe himself in his own urine. He will urinate on his front legs and stick his head back into his own stream. Some bucks in a serious rut become encrusted with urine and can suffer from urine burns. Which leads me to the next point…
Eau de Buck
If you have ever heard someone say that goats smell, it is probably because they met a buck. Bucks like to promulgate their smell, making their own cologne with urine. Each buck has their own smell and level of stinkiness. Some bucks smell so bad that a single goat’s smell can permeate throughout an entire barn. People have been known to sell stinky bucks just because they can’t take the smell any longer. While repulsive to people, buck toilet water (see what I did there?) is attractive to does and it is believed that smelling a buck will help a doe come into heat.
The mating dance
If a buck decides the doe is willing, then he will commence with goat foreplay. He will nudge her around to separate her from the rest of the flock. Often he will paw at the ground in a display of
manliness, er, goat studliness. The two may nuzzle and rub against one another. He will also grunt at her, stick his tongue out and rub it all over her. He will then mount her from the back, and if she is in the right mood, she will stand still while they breed.
Why would anyone want a buck?
Despite these unsavory characteristics, many people desire a buck on their farm, or at least the services of a buck. Without bucks, you cannot have baby goats or goat milk, so at some point, you might not have a choice.
When we decided we wanted to breed our girls, we debated whether we should buy our own buck, lease a buck or bring the girls to a buck for breeding. I will leave the finer points of this debate for another post, but we decided that leasing a buck was the right choice for us this year.
And I am glad we made that decision, because Bobcat displayed most of the above traits within the first half hour of being in our barn.