Bucks in rut are a special kind of charming – smelly, noisy, sticky and generally unpleasant. A lot of people choose not to keep bucks on their property because they don’t want to deal with managing male goats, especially when they’re displaying rut behaviors.
It’s easy to let maintenance slide on your bucks during rut season. Handling them leaves anything they touch smelling horrible, and no one wants to try to doge the affections of a friendly buck in rut. There’s also the very real possibility of getting peed on. However, bucks need the most care during this challenging time, and it’s important not to skimp on their care, or you may run into trouble when breeding them to your does.
One of the biggest issues male goats experience when they’re in rut is maintaining a healthy weight. In addition to great hay, we always make sure to offer our rutting bucks grain as well. When offering grain to male goats, you always have to be careful that the calcium to phosphorous ratio is correct in order to avoid urinary calculi. In addition to a well balanced grain, we also offer an ammonium chloride supplement to be extra safe. Adjust extra feed as needed to keep your boys at the best weight you can through rut season.
In addition to extra feed, it’s also important to be sure your bucks have access to free feed supplements to keep their mineral levels where they need to be. Copper and selenium deficiencies can take a huge toll on buck fertility. Offering kelp can also help keep their mineral levels well maintained.
Weight can be a serious struggle for bucks heading into winter from rut, especially older bucks. We have found giving them some extra flax meal pellets helps to build weight back up. Our vet also recently turned us on to a weight building supplement for goats called Dyne. It’s vanilla flavored and most goats enjoy it.
Bucks in rut love to fight with each other. It’s usually not serious, but repeated head bashing can cause some damage. This usually presents as serious hair loss on the top of the head, sometimes accompanied by abrasions. There may be some bleeding. If your bucks have scurs, they may get knocked off in these skirmishes, which can cause more concerning amounts of bleeding. This is common, and no reason for concern. We usually clean the wounds with a little disinfectant, and then spray them with some AluShield to seal the area.
Urine scald is another injury that bucks sustain while in rut. Due to their excessive peeing on their face and the backs of their front legs, the urine begins to irritate the skin, sometimes blistering it and causing hair loss. If we see excessive urine scald, we clean the affected area the best we can and apply a thick layer of healing salve to it. This helps sooth the damaged skin, and the oils create a barrier against more urine coming into direct contact with the skin again.
Your Bucks In Rut
As with all health and care, the first step is knowing your goats. While you’ll want to interact with your bucks in rut as little as possible, make sure you’re watching them carefully. If they aren’t eating well, reluctant to breed, or showing any other troubling signs, don’t just chalk it up to rut behavior. Parasites can really take advantage of a buck’s stressed state. Their immune system can also be compromised from the physical toll of rut. Don’t be afraid to check eyelids and take temperatures as needed. A good buck is a valuable asset and you should never skimp on their care. Even if you don’t want to touch them with a 10 foot pole.