Bucks, Does and Wethers, oh my! What’s the Difference and Which Should you Choose?
We often get questions from people wanting to know what the difference is between does, bucks and wethers and which is the best choice for therm. What you choose depends on why you want goats in the first place. Read on to find out which is the best choice for you.
Bucks are intact males. They have one purpose and one purpose only - to breed the does and make more goats! They do not make suitable pets, especially for children. While they aren’t necessarily aggressive they are big and strong and can be hard to handle when in rut. (Rut is the buck equivalent to being in heat.) They can’t be kept with does except during breeding season so they will need their own enclosure and another buck or a wether for a buddy. (Since goats should NEVER be kept alone.) They have an extremely offensive odor, especially during the breeding season. The reason they smell so bad is that they constantly urinate all over themselves, on their faces, bellies, legs, beards and yes, even in their own mouths! They have longer hair than does and wethers, which makes the stench even worse. They will also urinate on any and everything within reach, including you sometimes, if you stand too close! (Ask me how I know! 😩😆) The smell is really hard to get off once you touch them, so most buck owners keep handling them to a minimum and keep them far away from the milking does (outside of breeding season) and milking area so as to not taint the milk. Sometimes they get urine scald from all of that self-inflicted nastiness and need to be bathed and treated with diaper rash cream. That doesn’t exactly make for a creature that you want to pet and snuggle with so it’s really only recommended to have a buck if you have several does that you breed every year. If you breed but just have a couple of does you’re better off using buck stud service than housing one of these stinky boys of your own all year round!
Does are females. They are smaller than bucks and do not have any kind of offensive odor. They are generally sweet, calm and easy to handle, even by children. They are popular as 4H and FFA projects but what they are best suited for is breeding and milking. They will come into heat about every 3 weeks during the breeding season and may signal this heat by calling out and play fighting with the other goats. Once bred they will have babies in 5 months and can be milked for several months after that. Most well cared for dairy does can be bred to have babies every year and can be milked until 2-3 months before they have their next litter. Of course you don’t have to breed your doe but it’s normal and healthy to do so. That’s what they were bred for! They do also make great pets and many people choose them for that purpose, but they cost more than wethers so you need to keep that in mind.
Wethers are castrated males. They aren’t aggressive and don’t get as big and bulky and hairy as bucks and they have no bad bucky odor or disgusting habits! They also don’t come into heat like does so you don’t have to worry about them yelling for a date during breeding season. 😆 They make great companions for either does or bucks and good weed eaters. But what wethers really excel at is being sweet, loving, entertaining pets. They are also less expensive than does or bucks so you can usually purchase two wethers for less than the cost of one doe. If you don’t want to milk or have baby goats and just want fun and adorable pets I highly recommend wethers!
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Hi I'm Kim. I have been an avid animal lover all my life but goats and dogs are my favorites so I built a business around them, breeding registered Mini Nubian & Nigerian Dwarf dairy goats and MSCA registered Maremma Sheepdogs. I love sharing my passion and knowledge of these amazing creatures with others.