5 Things We’ve Learned Owning an Intact Buck

Kristin Grant
9 Min Read

Our first couple of years owning Nigerian Dwarf goats, we didn’t have an intact buck on the farm, just a few females and a wether (neutered buck), as a companion. Life was full of various goat-related chores that were pretty straightforward, that was until December, our chosen breeding time. Goats, unlike cows, have to be bred once a year to continue to produce milk. For us, this meant hauling our lovely does to a farm over an hour away to have a little “driveway date”. Luckily for us, our breeder was a wonderfully kind woman who was more of a mentor than just a way to get baby goats in the spring. However, it was still nerve-wracking toting our goats in the middle of winter over bad roads, sometimes in the back of a friend’s car, just to find out it didn’t work and we had to do it all over again the following month. Or even worse, thinking it did work, and no kids arrived in the spring.

We decided to take matters into our own hands and taking the plunge into owning an intact buck. We weren’t ready to go from ground zero to owning a full-grown Nigerian Dwarf buck. Their compact size is less intimidating, but they’re still fairly hefty around 75 pounds. Instead, we decided to purchase a sweet little buckling. We choose him for his impressive dairy lines and character. And boy, are the boys cute!

1. Bond Early On

Our buckling was just five weeks old when he came to live with us, which meant we bottle fed him every day for about two months. At the beginning, that was three times a day, graduating to just mornings and evenings, and finally weaning him off completely. During this time, he bonded with us and was an absolute joy to play with. It also meant we had the time to train him to stand still and not mind getting his hooves trimmed, to go for little walks with us, respect the electric fencing, and generally build trust. This bonding time has made working with him a breeze.

young intact buck

2. Easy & Safe Enclosures

By the time our buck was about eight weeks old we moved him and our wether into their own pasture including their own “buck barn”. Their barn is just big enough for an averaged sized adult human to go in and out. It’s easy to clean, fairly easy to move around inside, but not so big that it’s drafty and cold in the winter. We also insulated their barn and covered the insulation with another layer of plywood to make sure they didn’t get the chance to taste the insulation. Contrary to the belief, goats don’t eat everything. They do, however, taste it all.


3. Fortress Fencing

It’s common for those raising goats or sheep to have a livestock guardian dog, or an LGD, for short. However, that wasn’t in the cards for us (at least not yet), so we had to think through alternative ways to keep our herd safe throughout the day and night. For the boys, this meant a triple fence. The outer fence is electric and should keep out most predators. Where we live, that includes coyotes, wolves, bobcats, and technically mountain lions, but they’re rare in this region. The middle fence is woven wire, meant to keep the goats in, even if they test it a bit. And finally, the very interior fence is another string of electric fencing to keep the boys off the woven wire fence. Goats love to climb. Our buck loves to greet me at the gate with his front hooves on the gate, nose as far through the gate as he can manage. It’s adorable, but that gate will have to be replaced sooner than later since he’s putting pressure on it daily. Luckily, he only dares to do this while I’m near because he knows the interior fence is off. Once I’m back walking toward the house, he knows it’s back on and stays back, calling longingly for my return, preferably with treats.

4. Disposition: What a Sweet… Dog?

We knew owning an intact buck would mean a new pasture, more fencing, another small barn, more food, etc. What we didn’t know is just how different their disposition is compared to our does. He’s more dog-like than goat-like. He’s very sweet, fairly gentle, and loves to play. If he had his way we would live out in his pasture with him, racing around occasionally snacking on various bushes and pine branches. Our does, even the one that was also bottle-fed, are more interested in food, maybe a good head scratch, but then they’re back to their own business, whatever that may be.

nigerian dwarf bucklings from above

5. Plug Your Nose

Nigerian Dwarf goats, when raised on a cold climate homestead are very good at growing a nice thick, warm, winter coat. As soon as autumn rolled around, our new intact buck started filling out and growing not only a nice, thick coat but a considerable beard. Every day he looks a bit more like a mountain goat with his creamy white fur. However, with this wonderfully nice coat, he also has acquired a pungent smell. In contrast, our does smell like the barn, mostly of hay. Our buck… I can smell him from across the field. It’s not so bad that we can’t go into their barn and feed them and get them fresh hay and water twice a day, but to do so we have to wear a completely different outfit. An outfit that lives in the barn and never—I mean never—comes in the house. We don this outfit change twice a day, every day, rain or shine. If it needs to be washed, it goes in a closed tub to the laundromat and gets an extra wash cycle and an extra rinse cycle and I slip some extra money under the door of the office with a note of apology as I’m sure there is a lingering smell. There is a sign on the wall, “No horse blankets”. I’m just waiting for the day where the sign reads, “No goat coveralls”.

Maybe someday we’ll move their hay/grain feeders and water buckets so they can be refilled from the other side of the fence. For now, I get to spend some extra time with our buck and wether and if they rub their head on my knee, it’s ok.

Self-Sufficient Win

We’re just a couple of weeks away from our first on-farm breeding. We’re looking forward to walking our does from their pasture to the boys’ pasture, instead of multiple drives to the breeder! A little bit more hay, a few more chores, and a lot of outfit changes are worth it to be a bit more self-sufficient—no more nerve-wracking winter drives or guessing at goat cycles. Plus, the added benefits of our sweet, dog-like buck and his comical silliness are icing on the cake. Take the plunge into owning an intact buck, it’s well worth it!

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