April 27, 2019

Growing Up is Hard to Do

Especially if you're an intact buckling!

What Henry thinks about weaning.

For those not familiar with livestock lingo, "intact" means not neutered. Neutering is a choice that has to be made about the males, with usually only those considered "breeding quality" left intact while the others are neutered (wethered in the case of goats). Neutered bucklings can be left with the does, but those with the breeding goods intact become capable of breeding when they are a couple of months old. By the time they're three months of age they need to be separated. Unfortunately, this is before they want to give up their mother's milk.

My preferred way to wean bucklings is to send them to their new homes when it's time. That doesn't always work out, however, so they have to be separated from their mothers while they're still here. They are brokenhearted when this happens and spend most of their first days and nights hollering to go back to the doe barn.

Some people put their little guys right in with their adult bucks. But our bucks have always been too rough and aggressive toward the little guys, especially if any of the does go into heat. That seems to be the downside of aseasonal breeders! In the past we've put the bucklings in the small log barn at the back of the pasture. It's pretty far from the others and from the house, and it's hard to keep a close eye on them, especially when we hear coyotes around. I told Dan I wished we had a better setup, so he came up with an idea to divide the buck shelter.

He tied a cattle panel to the hay feeder, center post, a tree, and the fence running off the shelter.

He put in a gate from the old goat barn to give them access to the back paddock.

I feed them at dusk so I can close them in for the night.

They are safe, have good shelter, and aren't isolated, which makes me feel a whole lot better!

Big boys now: Jesse, Henry, and Eddie.

It can take several weeks before they settle down. In the meantime it's hard on everybody, although usually the does are so relieved to not be pestered and chased that they don't complain. On occasion I have a doe whose son was her favorite and she may be unhappy. In fact, I have to keep an eye on her girls if she has them, because I've had does who stop letting their others nurse once the favorite is gone.

So far so good, and for now, I'll just give my little boys plenty of extra attention. Eventually, they'll get used to it and peace and quiet will reign on the homestead once again.

Growing Up is Hard to Do © April 2019 by


Kev Alviti said...

Weaning is tough isn't it! I always try to keep them as far apart as possible when I do it. Normally by the time I separate the sheep the adult ewes are only too glad to be left alone! But the lambs bellyache for ages. Certainly a good time to test a pen and fencing. I remember the first year here and sat having lunch on the patio as I watched a lamb break out and get back in with the adults. I was so angry that my fencing had failed! Took ages to catch him as well!

Chris said...

It's always a challenge when your livestock are too young to cope on their own, but not big enough to run with the established adults yet. I have that problem with transitioning young pullets into the main chicken coop. It's good you had 3 young boys to keep each other company, as it's quite hard making that transition, alone. So this was a good solution, and using what you had to hand.

Pioneer Woman at Heart said...

It was always a challenge for us too. My daughter would tape the does and her girls would bite it off, so we had to separate them too.

Leigh said...

Kev, how we learn from our "mistakes!" Years ago we had one young buck we named "Hooper" after "Hoppity Hooper" because we thought he was hopping the fence. Turned out he was escaping through a hole in the fence! Always good to walk the fences!

Chris, we've had that problem with chickens too. In fact we have one hen who was a pullet following the year the rest of the flock grew up and she's still an outcast!

I was glad to have three of them to transition together. One year we had one lone buckling we had to separate and he was miserable, even though he could see the other goats through the fence. In fact, he took to jumping the fence so there was no keeping him separated. Fortunately he went to a new home shortly thereafter and had several goats for companions. He was so happy that he didn't miss his old home at all.

Leigh said...

Kristina, I've heard people talk about using tape and wondered if it worked. Apparently not! In this case, I'm not so much worried about the milk as I am a potential unauthorized breeding!

Ed said...

Fortunately from the sounds of it, we didn't keep any boars and turned them all into barrows. I guess with such big litters and so many of them, it was just easier if we weren't haven't to worry about genetics too.

Goatldi said...

It hurts to be in love. Boys and their mothers,er, milk supply.

Good solution to an age old problem. Give Dan an extra serving of dessert tonight for his extra efforts.

The big three of breeding goats. 1. Disbudding. 2. Castration 3. Weaning.

I believe these are necessary evils. But never easier even if acknowledged as as so.

Mama Pea said...

I'm saying this quietly so the boys can't hear me, but couldn't Jesse, Henry and Eddie go through that fence or gate they're behind? Maybe the picture just gives a a distorted angle and they couldn't squeeze through the bars. Yes, it's good they have each other to make it through this tough time for them. (Can't they scream loudly??!)

Goatldi said...

Mama Pea. Let us hope the WiFi doesn’t reach the buck barn. Like those little buggers need any escape suggestions 😂

Leigh said...

Ed, so you didn't separate any of them for weaning? In the brief time we had pigs, I recall it was recommended to wean them at 5 weeks or else the sow would start to lose weight. I usually sold them off pretty quickly, except for the few we kept for meat.

Goatldi, of the three I think weaning is the worst! Dan can't be around when I disbud because of how they scream, but it's over so quickly and then they're right back to being their playful selves.

Mama Pea, no, they can't slip through any of the gaps. They tried at first though. Fortunately, the hollering is getting less!

Goatldi, that reminds me of the buckling that did escape two months later. Her hightailed it back to his mom and immediately wanted to nurse! She wouldn't let him so he tried for the other. She wouldn't put up with that either, and then it was back to the buck barn for him.

Ed said...

We did wean them at around 3 or 4 weeks. But since they all ended up together as a group after the weaning, they quickly got over things and learned to live their lives without mama around.

Leigh said...

Ed, it's nice when they have companions to be weaned with. And pigs are so in love with food that I found that as long as they had good things to eat, it wasn't as bad weaning them as it is goats!

Susan said...

There is nothing quite as...loud...as bucklings wanting their mothers! I think that's a great set-up, as the little boys and the big boys will have plenty of safe time to get to know each other.

Leigh said...

Susan, weaning is a test of any farmer's patience! LOL

Rose said...

Learn something new every day...I would never have dreamed they could start breeding that young! Sounds like a perfect solution to have them closer to you.

Leigh said...

Rose, doesn't seem fair, does it?

Sam I Am...... said...

I would have worried too...it's like real children when they were little. I always loved knowing they were safe, fed and tucked in at night upstairs....same with the animals.

Leigh said...

Sam, especially when they won't go in for the night on their own! My bribe is food, and it always works. Also, I find they holler less at night if they're in their own stall.