San Clemente Island Bucks
Do You Really WANT One?
So you want to breed San Clemente Island goats, but you've never had a buck, and aren't really sure if you want one?
That's OKit's one of the first questions asked by newbies, and we understand your concerns. So let's address the questions!
Some bucks really stink, and male goats have a reputation for being extremely smelly. However, San Clemente Island males don't smell as bad as other breeds. Either they're missing some scent glands, or their scent glands don't work as well as those of other breeds, we're not sure. But it's a "breed thing." San Clemente Island males just aren't very smelly at all.
If an SCI buck is in a full rut, you can smell him from about 10 feet away. If your does are bred, he'll cease to smell at all unless you get your nose right up to his coat. Part of the pride of SCI goat ownership is pointing out to farm visitors, "See? My buck doesn't smell." It never ceases to amaze!
As far as rubbing scent on to fenceposts, again, San Clemente Island bucks are a little deficient in that area. They can rub all over a tree or post and the scent just doesn't seem to stick.
We've all seen the cartoons of billy goats head-butting people from behind. It's like the "eating tin cans" stereotype. . . hard to erase! We've only heard of two rude SCI bucks, and they were neutered to solve the problem. Generally, SCI bucks are as shy as the does, and a heck of a lot more mellow. I think if I were to choose a gentle pet, bucks would win over does any day of the week!
Bucks WILL head-butt each other while rutting over does, and if the doe is new, or in heat, bucks can go pretty heavy at each other. As the herdsman is NOT competing for a doe's affections, you won't be expected to compete in a buck-fight. And if you only have one buck, you'll never see your buck head-butting anything.
If a buck is separated from the herd and left to himself, he will probably get wierd, and posssibly mean. Goats are herd animals, and solitary confinement will do psychological damage to your buck over time. If you do end up with a buck whose temperament does not agree with you, sell him to someone who doesn't mind. I once had a buck who wasn't mean, just disobedient and not easy for me to handle. For his new owner, who bred dobermans and loved to train animals, he was a piece of cake!
Challenges to Fencing
If you have does in heat on one side of the fence, and a buck in a rut on the other side of the fence, you've just created a challenge to your fence. Your buck might rub against the fence (to try to get it smelly), or he may try to smash through it to get to the does, or he may even jump over it. To avoid this, you might wish to keep your buck upwind from the does (make sure he has a buddy). Or better yet, keep him with the does!
Bucks do like horn-rubbing, like deer. If you need to redirect his rubbing, give him a thin fencepost, or leave a dead sapling standing, or prop a branch up in the pen.
You Don't Need to Keep Your Buck Separate
Some people keep their bucks separate from the does so that they can have planned kidding dates. In areas like Montana, where winter kidding can mean frozen kids, this is perfectly understandable. Also, some herdsman prefer predictable kidding times that fit in best with their farm management techniques. For the rest of us, keeping the bucks separate, or even relying on another farm to provide a buck as needed, is more trouble than it's worth.
Bucks love to have a herd of does to watch over. It makes the buck calm. If a doe misses getting bred for whatever reason, it's nice to have a buck already there when she cycles back into heat, instead of the herdsman trying to guess or watch.
San Clemente Island bucks can have excellent fathering abilities. Besides the fertility aspect, a good buck will teach the little guys how to be a Big Goat. "Fight Practice" consists of very gentle maneuvers and head-butting. The kids love it and invariably bounce back onto Dad for more. A good buck will also protect a doe when she's giving birthsome young bucks mistake the smell of afterbirth fluids with the smell of estrus, and get a little too curious for comfort. An experienced buck will keep the younger boys away, while also keeping a respectful distance from the new mother. Sometimes, bucks will be assigned to babysitting duty. They might not be as good as the does, but they'll try their best and it's pretty funny to watch.
Replacing Your Buck
If you have a small herd, you can keep the same buck for years. On my farm, I do not keep kids. As my kids are all related, a new breeder could only use me for half of a new breeding herd (by getting just females or just a male). That's OK. I get to let my buck stay with the rest of his herd, my does are always bred without me even thinking about it, I only have to keep the hay and minerals in one place, and I get to keep a buck who is perfect for me. Makes life a LOT easier!
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