Are you looking for ways to condition breeding meat goat bucks before breeding season begins?
Condition breeding meat goat bucks properly to ensure a better breeding season. Because the end goal is live vigorous kids born, the first step is the health of the goat parents during breeding.
Breeding on our goat farm is during the middle of the grazing season from May to September. I plan ahead of time and schedule breedings according to vacations and travel we will have 5 months later. It is imperative to make sure I’m around my does when they kid. So, scheduling breeding time around kidding time is important for me as a successful meat goat breeder.
Along with scheduling, making sure the bucks can breed all the does in heat within the window of time is also part of proper meat goat management. To make sure they will breed according to plan, I properly condition breeding meat goat bucks.
So, I usually run two bucks to make sure does are bred within the short window of time the does are in heat. In between breeding times, I pamper them and condition breeding meat goat bucks to make sure they are at their best before they start breeding.
To schedule breedings, I make a list with around 30 does I want to breed. Then, I synchronize their cycles to they will come into heat the same time. Synchronizing the does means that the bucks will have 30 does in heat at the same time the first week. Not only do I know my bucks can easily handle this amount. But, 30 does is the amount that my kidding barn can handle as well. Therefore, bucks will need to be on top of their game in a short amount of time to meet the window.
Breeding synchronized does is a busy and exhausting time for the bucks. This is why I condition breeding meat goat bucks prior to breeding.
Why Condition Breeding Meat Goat Bucks?
I condition breeding meat goat bucks because they are athletes. They must be in their best physical shape possible. Bucks have to be able to sustain energy to get the jobs done, especially when they are breeding multiple does in heat at the same time.
When bucks are breeding for several days at a time, some of them may not eat or drink much during that time. They are just too busy. So, during breaks, there are some ways I like to help my bucks prepare for the next go round of breeding.
To condition breeding meat goat bucks, we put them in their own pen separate from the does. We make sure they are well nourished, whether it’s good quality pasture and a little bit of feed. We make sure they get what they need to have the energy to keep up with the does when it’s time.
Because happy and healthy bucks make successful breeders, we proactively condition meat goat breeding bucks to promote a successful breeding season. Here is the breakdown of how I condition breeding meat goat bucks before kicking them out with does.
In their buck pen, my bucks have access to all the vegetation they could ever want in the form of brush and pasture. Everyone knows good vegetation is important. But what some people may not know is that good vegetation does not stay good forever. You wouldn’t want to be forced to eat broccoli that is past it’s prime. Well, they don’t want to eat pasture that isn’t nutritious.
The quality of pastures highly depend on Mother Nature’s promises in rainfall. The nutrient level of forage can decline more rapidly when we receive less rainfall than normal. And we have been forced to feed hay much sooner than we’d like.
But that is the chance taken when you farm. You rely on Mother Nature to help you, but she is not always helpful. Therefore, other supplementation must be taken into consideration to properly condition meat goat breeding bucks.
So, I also supplement protein in the form of grain when the quality of the vegetation is low. Depending on how much rain and regrowth we get, summer pasture usually starts to decline in valuable nutrition around the middle of August.
Our grain contains some crimped corn, soybean meal for protein and molasses. They love it! It’s the perfect mix to keep them healthy and happy until the fall pasture grasses begin to take off in September.
The amount of grain they get is akin to half of a three pound coffee can per buck. So, it’s not very much at all.
I believe bucks don’t need much grain in their diets, but it’s enough to keep them happy. They gain a good healthy weight and are able to store some energy for later use. The grain does not have much mineral in it, so I also be sure to supplement good trace minerals into their diets.
Good Quality Minerals
Another important nutritional goal is access to good minerals. The mineral should include important trace minerals, such as Copper and Selenium.
A loose mineral is also better than a block mineral, based on my prior experience. In my commercial goat herd of nearly 100, I’ve cut costs by offering a cattle mineral to goats. Many larger meat goat producers have done this. You can buy a good quality loose cattle mineral in a large quantity that delivers all the nutritional trace minerals goats need.
I will mention: If you are grazing sheep as well, do not feed a cattle or goat mineral. This can lead to Copper Toxicity in sheep, which results in death. I’ve had great luck supplementing with a sheep mineral. Once a month, I bring my does into a catch pen where I offer the cattle mineral with copper in it. Or, you could copper bolus each month, which is what many sheep/goat grazers do as well.
Good Clean Water
Water is also important. My bucks have full access to plenty of fresh clean water. Their water is checked twice per day because water is the most important nutrient in their diet.
Some things that might affect the quality of the drinking water includes: Dead animals, algae, and staining from tall fox tail or other grasses. Especially with dead animals as the culprit, clean your tanks regularly and completely. It’s important to keep the bucks drinking water especially during the stealthy summer heat.
Along with plenty of great nutrition, the bucks’ time in their pen away from does involves a lot of relaxation.
Rest is the key to good conditioning. In their buck pen, all they have is one another. While they do play, they spend most of their time leisurely browsing and resting up for the long days of breeding.
These boys know how to relax. And since they are away from their girls, they don’t get worked up when the does come around the pen. They don’t tear up fences or pace. They are in a very calm state when they are in their buck pen.
And their calm state is a time when we can give them the best quality care prior to letting them join up with the does again.
One of the ways we care for them in between breedings is trimming their feet. Goats need their feet trimmed even when they are on only pasture. They need to be able to lope and walk long distances each day. And the bucks need to be able to keep up with the does while they are breeding them.
So, we trim their feet for them as needed. If there are any sores, we care for them as needed with a good soaking of Koppertox. The foundation needed to ensure a quality breeding season begins with good feet and the ability to travel and chase does. If the bucks can’t keep up with the does out on pasture, that’s a problem. Bucks must be able to catch does in heat and breed them on time.
Hence, we keep their feet well cared for. Use quality sharp feet trimmers and trim the feet nice and evenly.
We also make sure they are up to date on their Clostridial vaccination (CD-T), pour them with some fly spray and deworm them if needed.
Deworm your breeding bucks as needed. Usually, fall and spring are the times when deworming is needed the most.
Different signs and symptoms indicate different types of worms. White eyelids and gums signify barberpole worm. Coughing can indicate lung worm. And diarrhea can be a symptom of Coccidiosis – The stress worm.
But, usually during breeding season in the summertime, we don’t have to deworm any animal. We rotate pastures and don’t overgraze, so it’s generally not a problem for our management. The best way to note if you have worms is to take fecal samples to your veterinarian to guarantee a worm load. This will also provide information as to what worm you’d be treating for.
Parasites are the number one killer of meat goats, so it’s a good idea to stay on top of them. A good successful meat goat producer needs to be proactive about worms in the herd. So, to keep your bucks conditioned for breeding season, check them and deworm if needed.
Stench is Normal
Do you smell that? No – It’s not worms! It’s just a buck in rut.
Meat goat bucks are generally in rut during their natural breeding season of July – January. Bucks in rut smell really bad during this time because they ejaculate on themselves constantly.
Does, on the other hand, love the stench of a buck in rut. So, you’ll find does hanging out at the edge of the pen more during rut if they aren’t bred and settled yet. A smelly buck in rut is normal.
If you don’t smell your buck, there may or may not be a problem. Get your buck semen tested if you suspect a problem.
Semen Testing Your Bucks
This may or may not be a great idea for the meat goat breeder. Semen testing your bucks doesn’t need to be completed each year. But if you want to stay proactive, I would suggest taking your bucks to your veterinarian to test their semen every two to three years.
A semen test under a microscope can determine semen load, quality and vigor. Not only can this test be valuable for you as a breeder, but it can be great for the resale value of the buck if you choose to change out bucks.
If you’ve never seen swimmers under a microscope, I would encourage you to get a buck semen tested just for the experience of seeing it. It doesn’t cost much and you can learn a lot about what good quality semen looks like as well as what poor quality semen looks like.
And knowing you have a good buck with good swimmers will help you rest easy during breeding season compared to not knowing if your buck is up to the task of breeding does. It’s always best to be proactive. Your meat goat business depends on the the delivery of kids to sell later on.
So, condition meat goat breeding bucks to encourage a successful breeding season.
Encourage a Successful Breeding Season
I’ve covered numerous ways to pamper or condition breeding meat goat bucks before sending them out with does in heat. Help them to rest and promote good energy storage by keep them away from the does. Maintain a quality nutritional program with plenty of good protein and minerals.
Be sure they have plenty of water. It’s important that they stay hydrated to properly condition meat goat breeding bucks.
Make sure their feet are trimmed and they are free from parasite loads. Take fecal samples to your veterinarian or perform them under your own microscope. You must know what problems you need to fix before the does are ready to be bred.
Finally, only give them the amount of does they can handle at one time. This not only helps them but it helps you as well. Think ahead to kidding season first when planning for breeding season.
Thinking ahead and making a plan can help you to raise goats smarter…not harder. Good goat management starts with you being proactive about the animals in your herd. Find success this breeding season by taking good care of your bucks prior to breeding.
~ Much Love ~
Meat Goat Breeding Season is Upon Us!
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