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If you are raising goats, then you will eventually have some experience with wether goats whether you are keeping some yourself or wethering them for their new owners.
Wether goats are male goats who have been fixed or neutered. Often times this is done via banding between 8 – 12 weeks of age. However it can also be done with a burdizzo or surgically. The procedure is typically done at a few months old. These neutered boys tend to make fantastic pets.
If you are breeding goats for profit or if you have dairy goats you breed to keep in milk, you’ll inevitably end up with boys. Not all boys are suitable for breeding and those should be fixed or wethered. Additionally, if you are just looking for pets wethers fit the bill perfectly and are easy to manage within your herd.
What is a Wether Goat
A wether goat is a male goat who has been fixed or neutered. Essentially, their testicles are removed by one of three main methods. This, just like with dogs or cats, makes them sterile or unable to reproduce.
Why would you wether?
There are a few main reasons that you would not want to leave your bucks in tact. If you aren’t sure on what that goat terminology means, a buck is an adult male that is capable of reproducing.
First, not all males are suitable for reproducing. You only want to use the best genetics and characteristics in your breeding bucks. So, you only want to keep males in tact that meet all of the breed standards and are a good representation of what you want in your (or someone else’s) herd.
Second, keeping in tact bucks you have to have a separate goat pen and goat fence area for them. Otherwise they can and will breed your does anytime they go through their heat cycle. So, if you fix the boys, they can live alongside your does just fine.
And in tact bucks have some gross habits when they are in rut (breeding season) like peeing on themselves. Wethers on the other hand don’t tend to practice these type of behaviors.
What are wethers good for?
Wether goats are good for a variety of different uses. The main purpose or reason they have is to be pets. They make fantastic pets as they are generally calm and can be very friendly. They don’t have the hormonal changes and mood swings that bucks in rut and does in heat will.
They can also be used as heat detectors as they will act a little bucky and be able to notify you if your does in heat.
Additionally, they are great as companions for other goats. They can live with in tact bucks or with does. Since goats are herd animals and need to have at least one buddy, it’s great to have a wether or two in your herd in case you need a buddy for any of your other goats.
Wethers tend to be one of the lower costing goats since they are not breeding stock. Depending on the breed and area they can go anywhere from $50 – $200. Our disease tested Nigerian Dwarf herd usually runs about $175 for a wether.
Need some help to keep your goats healthy and maintained? The G.O.A.T Herd Management Binder has you covered from supplies to routine care reminders.
When to do it?
There is not an exact age when you need to wether your male goats. However, there are a few important age considerations to make.
Especially if you are banding, you can’t wait too long to perform the procedure otherwise your goat will be too big to safely do it. But, it is important to allow their systems, hormones and urethra to develop properly. When they are castrated or neutered it stops this development.
You should aim to castrate no earlier than 8 weeks. If you can wait longer, that is best. For banding, in particular, we usually wait 10 – 12 weeks depending on the size of the goat.
How to wether/neuter a goat
There are three main ways to do this: Banding, Burdizzo and Surgical.
Banding is probably the most common, it involves taking thick bands (they look like small hair elastics) and metal clamp. You stretch the band on the clamp and place the bands at the top of the testicles. This cuts off the blood supply and after some time they dry up and fall off.
The Burdizzo also looks a bit like a metal clamp. You are essentially crushing or cutting the spermatic cords. So, while they keep their testicles, they in theory cannot have sperm leave and are sterile.
Surgical castration is done by a vet where they actually go in and cut the testicles off just like they would in a dog or cats neuter.
Banding Step by Step
Banding is a little scary before you try it. Of course there are usually some nerves, and you want to be sure you do it correctly. But, once you do it a few times, it really is not difficult at all.
You’ll need just two things to band your boys
- The actual Bander – this is the one we use. We have had it for over 5 years and it still works great.
There aren’t many steps to banding.
1) Gather Your Supplies
First, make sure that you have your bands and bander ready. We like to use two bands per goat that way if one pops off too early there is still one in place.
Note: If the kid you are banding is a bottle kid, having a bottle ready for afterwards can help them feel a little better.
2) Get Your Bands Ready
You will place both of your bands on the small metal prongs of the bander. It is a good idea to open and close the clamp several times to kind of stretch the bands out and get them ready.
3) Hold Kid
This helps if you have a second person to assist. But you can also do it on your own. You will want to hold the kid securely in a way that you can easily access their testicles.
4) Place the Bands
Open the clamp and place the testicles into the clamp so that both bands are around them. You want to ensure that BOTH testicles are in the clamp.
Move the bands and open clamp to the very top of the testicles close to the kids body. But, be sure you don’t have their teats or skin caught in the bands.
5) Remove the Clamp
Carefully roll the bands off of the clamp and onto their testicles. Then, you can remove the clamp.
6) Check the Bands
Once you have completed placing the bands, make sure to take a good look and ensure that the bands are properly placed.
*Important note: Once the bands have been placed they CANNOT be removed. They cut off blood supply and once that has happened for a short period of time it can be dangerous to remove them.
7) Follow Up
Kids react differnetly to this. Some will run around fine afterward. Some will scream and lay down (sometimes pretty dramatically). Typically with 12 – 24 hours they are all up running around acting totally normal again.
It will take 4+ weeks for the testicles to dry up and eventually fall off.
There are several potential issues with wethering a goat. The two main ones are infection and UC (urinary calculi).
You should check the site no matter the method that you used while it is healing to make sur thee is no infection (redness, puss or other discoloration).
Urinary Calculi or UC is stones in their urinary tract which can actually block their ability to pee. It is important to feed them properly and not castrate them too early to try to avoid this condition.
Do wether goats make good pets?
They make fantastic pets. They tend to be calm and friendly. They don’t have the hormonal changes that bucks and does do.
Do wether goats stink? Do wether goats pee on themselves?
Unlike in tact bucks, wethers do not typically pee on themselves and therefore they do not stink.
Can you wether a goat at any age?
Surgically they can be wethered at any age. But via banding or Burdizzo the 8 – 12 weeks age range is best.
How much does it cost to wether a goat?
It can range from $30 – $100 or more depending if you are using a bander and doing it yourself or surgically castrating with a vet. Doing it with a bander or Burdizzo is not expensive at all.
If you need more help keeping your goats healthy and well taken care of, check out the G.O.A.T. Herd Management System – worksheets, calculators, supply management and more to keep your goats in tip top shape while cutting down on time.