No, not the human ones. The question of what to do with all the kids often comes right after a busy spring kidding season, when your goats have all had their babies and you are looking out into the pasture to see dozens of bouncing baby goats. Those kids are adorable and fun to watch. They will play for hours, and if your does are friendly, they will learn to love you quickly; there isn’t much better feeling than having a baby goat climb into your lap for a snuggle.
Too soon, however, those cute little five and ten-pound kids grow into thirty, forty, and fifty-pound adolescents. They’re still cute and loveable, but there is probably a limit on how many you can keep and how many you actually need for an efficient homestead. Since you have to breed your does every year to get a consistent milk supply, you are going to have a constant influx of new babies every spring. That means you are going to have to figure out what to do with them.
Those adorable little boys are the most likely to have to go soon. The truth is, whether you have dairy or meat goats, there are only two things a buck is good for—breeding and eating. If you already have a buck and don’t know any friends needing a new herd sire, then the best thing to do with your buck kids is to band them within a week of birth.
Banding is the method of castrating that is the easiest for most new goat owners to do. It only requires a small hand-held tool to stretch a tight rubber band far enough to slip over the testicles and then release the band at the base so that the testicales will eventually wither and fall off. There’s no blood, and it is relatively painless for the kid. They will squirm and act hurt for a few minutes, but then they’ll be off and running and forget all about it. Dab a little iodine around the band so that it fights off any possible infection as the sack falls off.
Castrating buck kids will keep them from getting hormonal as they grow. It will also focus all of their energy into growth instead of developing sex characteristics; that means more meat at butcher age.
Unless your dairy buck kids are very well-bred and of the highest quality, it isn’t going to pay off trying to sell them as whole breeding bucks to any serious breeder. Meat is the best possible alternative for them. Even dairy bucks make fantastic freezer meat.
Doe kids, on the other hand, have more possibilities. If you are planning on expanding your herd, keeping doelings (young does) is a great way to do it without spending a lot of extra money buying new does from the outside. It also helps you protect your herd from diseases you could bring in with new stock from outside sources.
If you have a full barn and can’t keep any more does, you could plan on selling the young girls as soon as they are weaned. You can also hold on to them long enough to breed in the fall, and then sell them as bred does. It’s a good way to earn a few extra dollars to help feed the rest of the herd, and it still keeps your own goat herd at a manageable size.
If the market just isn’t there for young does (which is rare), you can still use the overstock does for freezer meat. Doe meat is every bit as tasty as buck meat and will help you stock up your freezer in a hurry.
There is no wrong age to slaughter. Many cultures value very young kids, and the younger you slaughter, the less time and money you have to put into caring and feeding growing kids. However, the adverse side of slaughtering young is that you get less meat than you would if you waited a few months.
Even old stock that has outlived its use can be butchered: a buck that you don’t use anymore because you have too much of his genes in the herd and can’t keep breeding him to daughters, granddaughters and so on or a doe who is too old to breed can be used for freezer meat.
Older goats have tougher meat, just like any animal, but it still makes great ground meat for stews and burgers. It is the best way to truly get the most value out of your older stock.
©2011 Off the Grid News