When researching livestock and farm animals, you might hear about wethered goats and how they can be beneficial. Here we explain what is a wether goat.
You may consider goat breeds for milk, meat and breeding. Diversifying with wethered goats might be a great next step to your at-home herd.
Read on to learn: What is a wether goat? How do they differ from bucks or normal male goats? What benefits do they bring to your land, home, and goat herd?
What Is a Wether Goat?
Simply put, a wether goat is a male goat that has been castrated already. Wethered goats are male goats that can no longer reproduce.
Young male goats, also known as bucklings, will grow up to be bucks. Bucks can breed, but they also take on some problematic behaviors that might not be a good fit for your setup.
The castration procedure is relatively easy when it comes to goats. Castrated goats are usually back on their feet within a few hours.
The good thing is that these goats may be neutered, but they can still serve a great purpose on your homestead or farm.
What Are Wether Goats Used For?
A few specific things make castrated goats better than other types of goats or why homesteaders add them to their herds. Wether goats are used for:
Many people find that castrated goats are the best choice for community outreach. Petting farms, 4-H clubs, and other experiences like that are a good fit for neutered goats. While milking does could be used for these events, that might put unnecessary stress on the doe.
Wethers are very playful, and they don’t get aggressive in the same way that bucks do, so they’re safe around humans.
Even though castrated goats cannot actually breed with the does that you have, they can help you know which does are in heat. If you have a few bucks for breeding, keeping neutered males with your does will help you breed more effectively.
These males will recognize when does are in heat, and they will also recognize when breeding hasn’t taken. Breeding goats can be quite difficult in terms of knowing what was and was not successful, so these goats can be very useful. Raising goats for profit
Leading the Pack
Wethered male goats make great herd leaders since you can train them easily to lead other goats in and out of the pasture. They are also good at breaking up fights between does at times.
They have an easier temperament than bucks, so you can teach them to handle these situations over time with less fuss.
Fights can happen naturally in a herd, so it is good to have castrated goats to keep things in order as much as possible.
Remove Brush and Other Debris
Like other goats, wethered billy goats are still great for clearing brush and other debris. You can let them roam in areas where you have overgrown shrubs and vegetation, and this will get things under control very quickly.
Generally, goats can eat a few square feet of plant life in a short time. That is why farmers use goats to help maintain land.
Some breeds of goats are better than others for pack carrying. Wethered billy goats are a good choice for pulling cards or carrying goods. They are strong but, as mentioned, don’t have as strong of temperament as bucks, so they are easier to use for these purposes.
As a Loving Pet
Many people choose to take in whether goats as loving pets. Even if you plan to have a wether goat for one of the other uses listed, they can still make a great pet.
Wethered billy goats are affectionate, and they are even gentle with children. If you are ready to have a loving, happy pet, a wether goat can be a great choice. Are Nigerian dwarf goats friendly
Depending on how many bucks you have, you may want decide to use wethered goats for meat. Some dairy goat breeds, such as a Toggenburg goat, can be used for milk as well as meat.
Wethered Goats vs Bucks
Wether goats and bucks are both male goats, but what is the difference between them?
The difference between wethered goats and bucks is that wethered male goats have been neutered so that they can no longer breed. That leads to a difference in behavior, temperament, and usage.
The reasons someone would prefer one of these types of goats over another include:
No Hormonal Ruts and Smells
Normal male goats, known as bucks, get hormonal and go into a breeding rut during that time. During the rut, they become very aggressive.
They also stink due to the secretion produced by their scent glands.
Bucks also urinate and then get this scent on their faces as part of their breeding process. This smell is meant to attract does, but it can spread very far. Most people find this smell to be very unpleasant and prefer to avoid it.
Easy to Handle
Bucks have the reputation of being more challenging to handle than wethered goats. That is true even when they are not in heat, but the aggressiveness is often even more aggravated by their hormones.
Wethers often get bigger than bucks, but they are very sweet and calm in comparison to bucks. That makes them a good pack animal to stay with your does.
Don’t Need Many Bucks
Your herd does not need many bucks. You should control the interactions between bucks and does.
Most breeders believe that only the strongest bucks should be allowed to reproduce with the does. For that reason, keeping too many bucks can be problematic or just unnecessary.
Additionally, it’s helpful to neuter most bucks once they age past prime breeding age. Bucks take more work to take care of due to them needing their own space, so you don’t want to keep too many.
Simple Living Arrangements
Another benefit of keeping wether goats is that you do not need to separate them from your does.
Bucks must be separated from does to prevent unintentional breeding and aggressiveness. In particular, bucks will be very aggressive towards kids (young goats), which can threaten your herd’s long-term health.
That means they need their own living arrangement, and that can be difficult to set up. Separate living arrangements can also be expensive to maintain, especially if you have limited space to work with. On the other hand, you can keep wethers alongside does without this worry.
Wether goats also tend to live longer than both does and bucks. While does and bucks usually live between nine and 12 years, wethers may live for up to 16 years. Ultimately, the overall health and care of the goat will determine how long it lives.
However, wethers have a longer lifespan in general. As such, wethered goats may be the right choice if you want to raise livestock with a longer lifespan.
What Age Do You Wether a Goat?
If you have decided that castrating your goats is the right choice, you might be wondering and asking, “At what age do you wether a goat?”
In most cases, you should wether male kids between the age of eight and twelve weeks. There are potential problems with neutering too early and too late, so the exact timing will depend on a few things. In particular, you need to know how you plan to use the goat to know the right timing.
You can castrate goats you raise for meat as early as one week old. These goats live shorter lives, so the risks of early neutering aren’t as problematic.
Still, doing the process too early may cause the wether’s urethra to develop incorrectly. For that reason, it’s recommended not to castrate before they are three weeks of age.
If you wait too long to castrate male kids that stay with does, you could risk accidental breeding.
There are cases of bucklings as young as two months old breeding does, so you want to be quick. Additionally, it is easier to do the process when the bucklings are smaller and less strong.
Any bucklings that are not castrated should be separated from doelings by the time that they are around three months old.
This will prevent breeding until the doeling is mature enough to handle gestation.
Wether Goats and their Benefits
When deciding how to populate your farm with goats, it’s important to consider does, bucks and wethers. You’ll also want to think about having enough space and the means to care for them. In general, wethers are easier to care for than bucks.
Most people who keep goats will wether their goats at a young age for them not to deal with unwieldy bucks.
Depending on how many goats you plan to keep, there usually isn’t a reason to have more than one or two bucks.
What is a wether goat if not a great pet? Wethered goats are friendly, fun to have around, and useful for a variety of tasks.
Plus, a wether goat will be super affectionate. It will also likely live longer than a buck.
Keep your goats in check by limiting reproduction and the stress caused by having bucks by wethering goats as needed.
This practice is prevalent in the goat industry. When you do it properly at the right right, it’s acceptable to wether male goats.