Oh the big homesteading debate – getting goat bucks versus not getting goat bucks.
Getting goat bucks versus not getting goat bucks
Ben and I’ve been having this debate ever since our little buckling, Marty was born. Seeing as we’re homesteading on a small property, Ben was 100% team “not getting goat bucks.” Me, on the hand? Well, I might have a slight goat hoarding problem, and I’m definitely team “getting goat bucks.” Can you guess how this little debate turned out? Spoiler alert – we’re getting goat bucks!
In all seriousness, there are some major pros and cons associated with the buck debate. The decision becomes even more challenging when you live on a small property. So how did we finally make a decision? We weighed the positives and negatives … and eventually decided that getting goat bucks made more sense than not getting goat bucks. Wondering if you should add some bucks to your homestead? Hopefully my pros and cons will sway you one way or the other!
Getting bucks: PROS
Easier for breeding: When we decided to get goats, we assumed that we could easily bring our does to a nearby farm for breeding. We were clearly naive, because it’s nearly impossible to find a reputable farm that offers stud services. Perhaps this challenge is merely due to living in Chicagoland – I’ve heard of so many people that can easily find stud services in their area. With that being said, the vast majority of farms in our area keep a closed herd. If you can’t find a buck to breed with your doe(s), then you can’t have goat babies … which also means no goat milk. To make our lives easier in terms of breeding, we decided that keeping bucks made the most sense. We can easily breed our does on our own farm, which is a major perk of keeping bucks.
Less risky: Most local farms choose to have a closed herd to protect their animals from disease transmission. Just like humans, goats can contract some pretty nasty diseases via sexual contact. Opening your herd to other goats significantly increases your risk for contracting various diseases (some of which can also be transmitted to humans via milk consumption.) Keeping a small, closed herd feels like a much safer option for our homestead.
Cost efficient: Although we haven’t pursued stud services, a quick google search indicated that the cost of stud services varies greatly. While browsing through forum boards, some people charge only $35, while others charge $250 per goat plus boarding. (As always, you need to question drastic price discrepancies – is the herd clean? etc) If you’re planning to breed 2-3 goats per year, then you’re going to pay $500-$750 per year to breed your does. That’s a lot of money! Although you’ll need to pay the initial investment for high quality bucks, getting goat bucks is more cost efficient than not getting goat bucks.
Getting bucks: CONS
Stinky: Although we don’t have any adult bucks (yet), we’re entering this next phase with full understanding that bucks stink. Like, really stink. Bucks intentionally urinate everywhere on themselves – their face, beard, legs – you get the idea – to attract a doe for breeding. When you’re homesteading on a small property, the inevitable buck stink makes things a bit tricky. We don’t exactly want our bucks to stink up the farm, so we’ll be getting creative with the location of the buck house.
Separate housing: If you’re thinking about getting bucks, then you’ll need to separate them from the does. If kept in close contact, the does (and potentially their milk) will smell … but that’s the least of your concern. Unless you want to deal with unplanned pregnancies and inbred goat kids, then you should separate your does and bucks.
If you follow along on Instagram, then you might have noticed that we’re in a bit of a predicament. Marty is about 12 weeks old and desperately needs to be separated from the does, but our new buck won’t be old enough to bring to the farm for another 4 weeks. We purchased a goat apron to help prevent unplanned pregnancy … but let’s be honest. We’ve all been through sex ed, and sometimes mistakes happen. Using a goat apron is giving me major anxiety, so we’re working on some other plans to separate Marty from the does ASAP.
Separate pasture: Along with separate housing, bucks also need a separate pasture from the does. If you live on a large piece of property, then this is probably no big deal. We have limited space over here, so creating a separate pasture will require a bit more planning and prep work on our end.
More feed cost: Increasing your heard size will obviously increase your feed cost. We’re hoping to plant alfalfa hay and timothy grass hay for cost and convenience purposes. Do you know how many times it’s been 7pm and we realize that our goats ate all the hay and Ben needs to make a last minute trip to the store? Too many times, friends.
What’s your vote on the big buck debate? Is getting goat bucks a good idea, or do you prefer not getting goat bucks?