Katherine’s Caprine Corner September/October 2019
Reading Time: 4 minutes
Katherine Drovdahl MH CA CR CEIT DipHIr QTP answers your questions about swollen teats on bucks, the right age for breeding, and urinary calculi.
Q. My buck has a swollen teat. What is it?
A. Several things come to mind, and they are the same reasons that does can get a swollen teat. If both teats are swollen but not red or shiny, there probably are a lot of high-milk-producing goats in his pedigree. I nearly always have one buck on the farm that we call a “milk buck.” Yes, he’s producing milk. However, we don’t milk them. We don’t want to open the orifice which increases the likelihood of bacteria getting into the teat which would cause mastitis. Neither am I fond of goat rodeos! If a teat (or teats) are red and shiny, it could be mastitis. In those situations, my hubby and I have to do a bit of a goat rodeo to get herbal salves or mastitis products onto the teat and surrounding area, as well as oral herbs —or whatever antibiotics you use — into the bloodstream). The teat with mastitis will usually be painful, so take handling precautions to not get hurt. If a teat has a lump in it, that also could be mastitis that the body is trying to trap with a cyst to protect the body from it. That bacteria could have entered an open orifice or through damaged skin as in a sting or bug bite. I work with those the same way as mastitis. A cyst that doesn’t respond could be a nonmalignant or malignant cyst. Those can be diagnosed by your veterinarian.
Q. At what age can I use my buckling for breeding?
A. That is more a matter of his maturity than it is of age. As long as he’s otherwise healthy and weighs good for his age, we let him determine that. Most of those bucklings will have a beard starting, or in progress, and will be mounting. He won’t be able to actually breed until he can extend his penis. So, if you see him extended and peeing on himself with his lovely “Buckanel # 5 formula,” he can be used for breeding. On the average it takes sperm six weeks to mature from formation so he may not settle does right away. For this reason, once we see beards forming on bucklings, they get separated from does and doelings. We have used as young as July buck kids to settle does starting early November in our herd.
Q. How do I know when my doeling is ready to breed?
A. I can speak to the standard-sized dairy goat breeds as to weights, but the principals behind each item in the list applies to all breeds. I like my standards to weigh at least 80 pounds, be at least seven months of age, be on the gain, in good health, be sound (no lameness/leg issues), and to have sound bones so, at third trimester and kidding, she stays strong and sound in her legs. We very rarely carry over a “dry yearlin,”’ nor do we need to on our farm. Dry yearlings tend to get overweight and of course aren’t being productive, so they cost me another year before I can evaluate an udder or get kids to continue her genetics or to sell.
Q. My buck mounts to breed but doesn’t seem to have stamina to stay on or to try very hard to breed. What is going on?
A. Assuming your boy is at the correct weight and had good feed and nutrition to prepare him for goat breeding season, here are some things I’d look at. Could he have a “walking” pneumonia, lungworm, or other infection that is zapping his strength? Listen to his ribs and see if you hear breathing noises that would tip you off to a problem. Has he already bred more than one doe in the last hour or two? Has he been fighting and is worn down? Or is it later in the season, cold, and he’s paced so much that he’s quite underweight (often with an infection or lung issue in progress as well)? Sometimes, it’s just a young buck that is not quite confident trying to work with a doe that’s not so cooperative. As long as we know for sure the doe is in strong heat, we will hold her for the buck in those cases. Bucks used for pasture breeding, that are pulled for a hand breeding on a doe that isn’t in perfect standing heat, may not be interested in breeding at that time. This is more common in some of the meat breeds. Some meat breeds also prefer nocturnal breeding times for privacy. For ones that seem to just lack a bit of stamina that are otherwise fine, I mix a dose of cayenne in a feeding syringe (from 1/8 tsp for a buckling to have a tsp to a 300+ pound buck) with water and carefully give orally. If it is only a stamina thing then he should gain some endurance within a minute. If not, then you need to consider the other possible reasons.
Q. My buck is caving at the loins, lying down, and crying. What is going on?
A. He is telling you that he is in pain in his loin or kidney/bladder areas. If you also see crystals on the hair surrounding his sheath, suspect urinary calculi (UC). In that case, you are in a medical emergency. The mineral blockage in his urinary canal needs to be dissolved before pressure backlogs enough to blow up his bladder. Bucks with UC will also strain to pee and will just dribble or be unable to at all. I have drenched raw apple cider vinegar with herbs in these situations. How fast they support depends on whether he has a few large stones or many smaller ones. The smaller ones dissolve quicker, of course. I also put them on soothing herbs such as drinkable aloe or even some olive oil, as the crystals have very sharp edges which creates a lot of pain for your boy. Find a way to filter out the rock mineral particulate in your buck’s drinking water if he gets UC. Even something as simple as a filter for an RV that screws onto your faucet will reduce rock buildup. Other issues to consider are a back or kidney injury, or an impacted gut from either ingesting something too large to pass, twisting a gut, or ingesting too much dry matter such as hay or straw and not drinking enough water to go with it.
Have a super blessed autumn and breeding season!
Originally published in the September/October 2019 issue of Goat Journal and regularly vetted for accuracy.