A lot of people ask us if they should purchase a male or female goat. And usually, I just smile and say, “yes.”
Because, when it comes to buying goats, the answer depends on the reason they’re purchasing a male or female goat, to begin with.
If you’ve been wondering which goat gender to purchase, you’ll need to take some time to consider everything you want to do with your goat in the future.
Do you want a goat for:
- A companion?
- Goat milk?
- Goat Meat?
These are just some of the reasons you might be considering a goat for your family.
And, when it comes down to it, there’s a goat gender that makes the most sense for each of these purposes.
So, if you’re ready to add a caprine to your farm, and you don’t know if you should purchase a male or a female goat then the first thing you should do, is to ask yourself, “why do I want to get a goat?”
Male or Female Goat Gender Terminology
Before we dig into what gender goat you should purchase for your purpose, it’s important to know what each is called.
So here’s the deal:
Bucks: A buck is an intact male goat. in other words, he hasn’t been banded, castrated, or otherwise.
Does: Does are female goats. These are the ladies and the only ones who can produce goat milk!
Doelings: Doelings are female baby goats.
Bucklings: And, as you might have guessed, bucklings are baby male goats.
Wethers: Wethers are male goats that have been banded or castrated. In other words, their sex organs have been altered and they can no longer breed.
Goat owners decide to “wether” their goats because they don’t want them for breeding or they’d prefer to raise them as pets.
How Many Goats Do You Need?
First and foremost, as far as I’m concerned, you can never have too many goats. Truly, they’re the best!
On the flip side, you must always keep more than one goat because they’re extremely social animals.
In the wild, goats live as pack animals, in a herd. And because they’re prey animals, they rely on the herd for protection. If you ever separate two goats that know each other well, they’ll become quite upset.
They’ll call (and maybe even scream) for one another, try to escape to rejoin the herd.
A goat all by itself will be a very sad goat, and may not thrive as well. They’ll become stressed which can lead to a slew of illnesses, diseases, and parasitic infestations. Goat and stress simply don’t mesh.
With that being said, some goat owners keep goats with horses, alpacas, or other animals for companionship.
This is ok, but if your goat could talk, they’d tell you they prefer the company of other goats.
And, as a tip, you always want to be sure you’re aware of the possibility of diseases and parasites spreading between species.
Now that you’re familiar with goat gender terminology and you’re aware of the fact that you’re now purchasing two goats, we’re ready to dig into which gender is best for you: a male or a female goat…or maybe even a wether!
Should You Get a Male or Female for a Pet Goat?
If you’re simply interested in a companion goat, then you’re going to want either a doe or wether.
Bucks simply don’t make the best pets due to their hormones. When they’re in a rut, they display all sorts of interesting behaviors like:
- Urinating on their faces
- Blubbering and sticking their tongues out.
- Becoming more aggressive than normal
They tend to become more territorial and, in some cases, attack, butt, mount, or bite their owners and other goats.
But the worst part of a buck in rut…is the stink!
I don’t mind it so much but many others complain about how smelly their bucks can be during rut. Truth be told, they like to stink it up, and the does tend to appreciate it as well.
So, if you’re looking to purchase a pet goat, do not purchase a buck. Instead, consider a doe or a wether.
Purchasing a Children’s Pet Goat
A recurring theme in this article is the benefit of a wether as a pet goat due to their inability to breed (in other words, their lack of hormones due to castration).
And if you’re specifically looking for the best option for a kid’s goat, then we lean towards a wether.
That way, there’s no monkey business when it comes to hormones.
Similar to a gelding horse, a wether is going to be more even-keeled when it comes to their moods than intact males and females.
In other words, a wether, as a pet goat for kids, is going to be much more predictable than a doe or a buck.
You Need a Female Goat for Milk
You’d be surprised how many people wonder which gender goat can provide milk.
The answer is the doe. Just the doe.
So, if your primary reason for purchasing a goat is for their delicious, multi-purpose, milk, then you’re going to need a doe.
But here’s the thing. A doe cannot give you milk unless she has a baby. So you’re also going to either need a buck or you’ll have to get in touch with a fellow farmer with a buck.
Goats have a gestation period of five months but they should only be bred once a year (but it’s also polite to give them more time off if you can).
Having fresh goat milk on hand is a real treat, but you’ll have to make sure you’re ready for a buck and, of course, baby goats (called kids).
You’ll also have to decide whether you’re going to share the milk with the doe’s babies or if you’re going to bottle feed them.
So, as you can see, there are a few additional details to consider if you’re hoping to purchase a milker!
A Male or Female Goat for Meat?
For goat lovers, it’s not always easy to think of goats as food, but there are many cultures throughout the world where goat meat is the first red meat on the menu.
With that being said, if it’s your goal to raise a goat for meat, you can choose to purchase a male or a female goat (or a wether).
In most cases, bucks are not ideal for meat because of their gamey (and sometimes rutty) flavor. With that being said, some cultures enjoy the flavor, so it all depends on your palette.
Male or Female Goats for Packing?
When it comes to hiking with your goats, steer clear of intact males (and some females).
In general, it’s thought that wethers are the most level-headed of the goat sexes. And that’s because they won’t succumb to their hormones.
Remember what I said about a rutty buck and those bizarre behaviors?
Well, if your buck acts up while you’re out hiking, you’ll have your hands full.
Does can be considered for packing, but many breeds go into heat every 21 days…so planning your trip around their hormones may prove to be difficult.
When a doe goes into heat, she may display some behavior that seems out of the ordinary for her.
Some things a doe in heat might do are:
- Challenge others does (or you)
- Become more vocal
- Mount other females
- Become more playful
- Urinate more frequently
The behavior of a doe in heat may or may not be problematic for someone planning on packing, but there are a lot of pack goat experts that recommend wethers in the spirit of avoiding hormonal behaviors on a hike.
As a side note: if you’re using goats for packing on a hunt, the less they smell the better (ie leave the bucks at home).
Should You Use a Male or Female Goat for Fiber?
If you’ve got your eye set on a goat that can be used for fiber, like an Angora goat, then your best bet is sticking with a doe.
Male fiber goats have two disadvantages if you’re planning to use them for fiber:
- Their hair may be coarser than a female’s
- They often stink…because they urinate on themselves (on purpose).
Remember what I said about stinky bucks? Well, you don’t want to create a beautiful garment out of stinky fiber, right?
Your best bet is sticking with the girls when it comes to fiber goats. But if you want to breed in the future, you’ll need a buck either way.
Just make sure you keep him away from the girls when it’s not breeding season. Otherwise, your ladies will start to stink as well.
As a side note: you’ll need to shear your fiber bucks. Their fiber can be washed and sold, but it probably won’t go for the same rates as doe fiber.
Goats are naturally gentle creatures.
Yes, bucks can be aggressive, and even some does and wethers can have bad attitudes but, in general, goats are very calming critters.
More and more people are noticing the therapeutic benefits of spending time with goats.
Here’s a few reasons why:
- They can be quiet and peaceful (if happy).
- They spend a lot of time lazing around while ruminating.
- Some love to be petted.
- And listening to them munch hay and grass can be extremely relaxing.
Oh, and think: Goat yoga
But is there a certain goat gender to use for mindfulness and therapeutic activities?
The answer is yes, absolutely.
If your goal is to raise a therapy goat, you should employ a doe or wether…and never a buck.
And always, ALWAYS, make sure you’re goat is truly trained and can be trusted around humans.
Remember, bucks can be aggressive and unpredictable when in rut and especially around strangers. Also…pretty sure their smell isn’t considered aromatherapy
Male or Female Goat to Show at The Fair
If you’re a 4-H family, you’re probably on the hunt for the best option for a show goat.
And when it comes to children and goat handling, a friendly doe is probably the way to go (if you’re showing dairy goats).
On the other hand, if you’re into the meat goat circuit, you can show does and wethers. So take your pick!
The only gender of goat that’s not typically shown at fairs are the bucks. Remember, they can be unpredictable, smelly, and very good escape artists when girls are around.
Male or Female Goat as a Weed Eater
Have you got a lot of weeds? Did someone tell you to just get a goat?
Here’s the thing…
Goats have a reputation for eating anything under the sun. The truth is, they simply don’t…and they especially don’t eat tin cans.
In fact, goats are some of the pickiest eaters. And while they do enjoy browse and some weeds, they don’t love them all.
Case in point: I was so excited to unleash my herd on a new pasture full of burdocks.
To my dismay, they chose to eat around them and now I have a field of itchy pokey burdocks (and a lot of matted goats).
With that being said, if you want to purchase a goat to free-range the yard (and that’s their only purpose), you’ll probably want to get enlist a few wethers.
They’re easy keepers, not hormonal, and are usually quite friendly.
Just don’t expect them to eat only the things you want them to eat and leave the rest. They don’t care what you want!
Pros and Cons of Purchasing a Male or a Female Goat
Now that you’ve got a good idea of whether you should purchase a female or a male goat, let’s take a look at some of the pros and cons of each gender.
Pros and Cons of Purchasing a Female Goat
- Goat milk
- Does can have babies
- Does aren’t typically as aggressive when in season
- Female goats may be hormonal
- If you want goat milk, you’ll have to breed your doe with a buck (and you’ll get kids)
Goat kids: pro? con? I say pro! But it all depends on your needs and the space you have for goats, goats, and more goats.
Pros and Cons of Purchasing a Male Goat
You’ll have a buck on hand for breeding your does
- Bucks can be aggressive when in rut
- Male goats are stinky
- Bucks exhibit strange behavior when in rut
It has to be said that bucks tend to get a bad reputation, and that’s because they truly can be nasty.
But, I must say, that on the other end of the spectrum, there are some gentle bucks as well.
They’re just best utilized for breeding rather than some of the other activities on this list.
Pros and Cons of Purchasing a Wether
- Wether will not exhibit rutty/hormonal behavior associated with breeding
- They can be easy keepers
- Wethers are said to be more docile
- Wethers can’t be bred
- Their only purpose is meat or companionship
Male or Female Goat Conclusion
In conclusion, there are many different reasons to choose to purchase a male or a female goat. It often comes down to the purpose of your new goats.
And, as a reminder, you can’t have just one goat.
So, yes, goats are like potato chips…you can’t have just one. But that’s not the only reason you need at least two goats.
Remember, they’re herd animals and they rely on each other to thrive. So when choosing which gender of goat to purchase, don’t forget that you’re going to need two.
You can mix and match if you know your purpose for owning goats, but t if you don’t want to breed them for any reason, then stay away from buck-keeping.
Bucks are truly only necessary for someone who needs or wants to breed goats. They don’t make good pets, they’re not allowed at most fairs, they can be aggressive, and lest we forget, they tend to smell (because the lady goats love it).
So unless goat breeding is in your future, you’re good to go with does and wethers.