November 15, 2012

How To Make A Buck Rag

A buck scented rag is one way to help determine if a doe is in heat. It seems as though this might be easy to tell, but I'm no expert. Common signs include vocalizing, tail wagging, increased aggressiveness, vaginal swelling and/or discharge, decreased milk supply. Some does are obvious, some are very subtle. If a doe is in heat and likes the scent of the buck rag, then she is in all likelihood ready for a visit. This could be helpful for someone who does not own a buck. Another option, some goatherds keep a wether with their does. He knows, and will try to mount them when their hormones are right.

I hadn't needed to worry about this until recently, because the boys and the girls were in adjacent pastures. When one of the does was in heat, she'd stand there at the fence flirting with the bucks. When we plowed and planted that field, I had to move the girls. They are now two fences away from the boys instead of one, nor are they in a direct line of sight. I thought a buck rag might help. So here is the how-to run down.

Start with a clean rag. I made this one from an old sock.

An old, clean rag

Find a cooperative buck.

Don't even think about it.

Don't stop

Rub it around the base of his horns. This is where there are scent glands.

Place it in a lidded jar until needed.

Odoriferous buck rag, ready when needed

To test it out, I let all three of my girls take a whiff.

What is that?

Get that thing out of my face.

I'll take care of it for you.

Well, I'm pretty sure Ziggy's not in heat but she loves to pull, mouth, and chew on fabric: my jacket, my shirt, my skirt, my shoelaces. So based on my quick test run, I can't tell you this works for sure. I do keep rough track on my calendar, so if and when the girls demonstrate signs of being in heat, I'll give it another try and report the results.

This and more can be found in my inexpensive eBook, How To Make a Buck Rag: and other good things to know about breeding your goats. Includes how to tell when your doe is in heat, when your buck is in rut, how to determine pregnancy, how to calculate due dates, and how to keep your boy in good condition for doing his job.

How To Make A Buck Rag © November 2012 


Farmer Jen said...

I have no goats, but this was a very interesting post!

The Cranky said...

Another handy tip to tuck away for when I finally 'get my goat'. Thanks!

GrannyAnnie said...

What a great idea! Mine just finished breeding, but I will definitely keep that in mind for next season. Thanks!

Oh, and I like Gruffy the best. He is so pretty!

Farmer Barb said...

Why keep them separate in general if you would like them to breed? I know it is the only tried and true method of preventing, but when we are trying to achieve pregnancy shouldn't we make it open bar? Is it for calculating birthing?

Nina said...

That's an interesting idea,for knowing exactly when to breed. I'm guessing you're going for specific breeding times and not just by gosh and by golly, and making sure that the desired buck is breeding the in heat doe. I was wondering if introducing the buck to the doe bring the does in heat and change the cycles when you have them separated like that?

Leigh said...

Thanks Jen!

Jacqueline, learning about goats is ongoing, LOL. I get a lot of good information from several goat forums and email lists. These are great for answering questions too.

Anna, thanks! Gruffy is my sweetheart. I can see why folks love Pygmy goats. They have the best personalities.

Barb, does this mean you're finally with power and back online? Yay!

Good question. Managing goats will largely depend on goals. Mine is to breed my does alternately, every other year, and milk through the non-breeding year. I think this is healthier for the goats. I plan to do that this year by breeding Surprise, and next year breeding Lily (who's a little too young at this point anyway).

Last year I did leave my does in with Gruffy, my only buck at the time. They stayed together for three months during breeding season. I did find that Gruffy would make continued advances even when the does weren't in heat, which annoyed them to no end. Then became agitated which did not help milk production. In general though, folks who keep both bucks and does will keep them separated. An exception might be one buck with a large herd of meat goats.

Knowing a due date is one good reason. Many goats deliver by themselves without problems, but life or death problems can develop (been through that once already), so it's a good idea to be present at kidding. That can mean checking on a due-to-deliver doe every few hours during the night. So much nicer to have a ballpark idea of when to do that. :) Partly because of sleepless nights, it's nice to have the due dates spread out a bit too.

We have two bucks and they can and will fight over the does. Gruffy ended up with a broken scur in such a scuffle with Elvis. Also I don't want big Elvis to breed my little Nigerian Dwarf. I'd be afraid her babies would be too big to deliver.

I want two bucks for genetic diversity and to keep a closed herd. Some folks just rent the services of a stud, but for me that is more of a hassle, plus folks around here don't worry enough (IMO) about goat diseases such as CAE and CLA. Before going outside the herd, a responsible breeder wants a good bill of health from the other goat.

And of course those with a breeding program and especially registered goats need to know who's the daddy. Besides knowing who to put as sire on the registration papers, it helps prevent genetic problems down the line from inadvertent inbreeding.

Lastly, some folks claim the presence of a buck taints the flavor of the milk. Others say this is an old wives tale.

In the end, it depend on one's circumstances and goals. We have the land, so all those reasons are why I prefer to keep them separated and put them together when a doe is in heat.

Nina, I have tried the gosh & golly method. :) That was in desperation because neither of my big Nubians does were cooperating with my little Pygmy buck.

The presence of a buck doesn't seem to effect a doe's cycle. What I have noticed, is that with more than one doe, the eventually all cycle at the same time. Other goat owners have noticed the same thing.

Renee Nefe said...

So how frequently will you be offering the sniff test? And did you say who the lucky gal for this year is?

DFW said...

Wonderful information Leigh. I'm filing it all away for my future goat husbandry skills. Thank you.

Susan said...

Perfect timing. I am going to have Sage bred and have been trying to judge the timing of her heats. The woman who has her "boyfriend" mentioned using a buck rag.

Penny said...

I don't have any goats or know anything about them so for me this post was mostly hilarious. Love the picture captions.

Carolyn said...

I've never had any luck with our wether showing ANY signs of interest in our does, so that doesn't work for us here. The only time he's interested in the does is when he's out of grain and they still have some in their buckets!

As for the buck rag & jar. You failed to mention that you keep the rag in a jar, which is kept in another larger jar, which is then closed into a 5-gallon bucket surrounded by odor-absorbers, which is then lidded & sealed then put into a hole in the ground and covered up with 3' of concrete.

Can you tell I've got an EXTREMELY stinky buck?

Leigh said...

Renee, this year it's Surprise and Ziggy. Next year it will be Lily, and maybe Ziggy again, though her breed can come into heat all year around. Lily isn't even a year old yet, so I'd like to wait with her.

DFW, I hope it serves you well!

Susan, I find it difficult to time heats and am hoping this method works well. If you use it,let me know how it goes!

Penny, thanks. :)

Carolyn, LOL. Now that my boys can't really see the girls, they've both calmed down and stink less. Gruffy especially was terrible! Another reason to keep them separated from the does, away from the main barn, and downwind. :)

Thistle Cove Farm said...

Perhaps you didn't mean it to be but this was a very cute post. the first doe has a fabulous expression on her face...thanks for capturing it!

Leigh said...

Sandra, thank you for that. I always hope my posts are entertaining as well as informative. The goats just lent themselves to the captions. They really do seem to think like that!

Unknown said...

Bucks have a VERY strong odor and it seems to cling to everything. You really don't want your milk anywhere near a buck.