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Growing Up is Hard to Do

Especially if you're an intact buckling!

What Henry thinks about weaning.

For those not familiar with livestock lingo, "intact" means not neutered. Neutering is a choice that has to be made about the males, with usually only those considered "breeding quality" left intact while the others are neutered (wethered in the case of goats). Neutered bucklings can be left with the does, but those with the breeding goods intact become capable of breeding when they are a couple of months old. By the time they're three months of age they need to be separated. Unfortunately, this is before they want to give up their mother's milk.

My preferred way to wean bucklings is to send them to their new homes when it's time. That doesn't always work out, however, so they have to be separated from their mothers while they're still here. They are brokenhearted when this happens and spend most of their first days and nights hollering to go back to the doe barn.

Some people put their little guys right in with their adult bucks. But our bucks have always been too rough and aggressive toward the little guys, especially if any of the does go into heat. That seems to be the downside of aseasonal breeders! In the past we've put the bucklings in the small log barn at the back of the pasture. It's pretty far from the others and from the house, and it's hard to keep a close eye on them, especially when we hear coyotes around. I told Dan I wished we had a better setup, so he came up with an idea to divide the buck shelter.

He tied a cattle panel to the hay feeder, center post, a tree, and the fence running off the shelter.

He put in a gate from the old goat barn to give them access to the back paddock.

I feed them at dusk so I can close them in for the night.

They are safe, have good shelter, and aren't isolated, which makes me feel a whole lot better!

Big boys now: Jesse, Henry, and Eddie.

It can take several weeks before they settle down. In the meantime it's hard on everybody, although usually the does are so relieved to not be pestered and chased that they don't complain. On occasion I have a doe whose son was her favorite and she may be unhappy. In fact, I have to keep an eye on her girls if she has them, because I've had does who stop letting their others nurse once the favorite is gone.

So far so good, and for now, I'll just give my little boys plenty of extra attention. Eventually, they'll get used to it and peace and quiet will reign on the homestead once again.

Growing Up is Hard to Do © April 2019 by