Today, we wethered all but one of our bucklings. I use the term “we” loosely. Some of “we” were standing on the other side of the barnyard.
“What’s a wether,” you ask, innocently.
A wether is a buck that is no longer a buck. Wethering leads to a happier, more contented animal and fewer problems in the herd. Bucks can be aggressive, they have fragrant mating rituals, and they are harder to handle.
There are three methods for achieving this state: surgical, the elastrator, and the emasculatome.
Getting a little queasy? It gets worse.
The surgical method involves just what you think it does. That method is right out at this farm.
The second, traditional method involves using a tool call the elastrator to slip a very small rubber band around the base of the scrotal sac, and then standing around and watching while it rots off over the next few weeks. There are complications, particularly during fly season.
The third method involves using an emasculatome (we used a Burdizzo) to crush the spermatic cord and blood vessels through the skin. This leaves no open wound and the scrotal sac is left intact.
Getting the drift? The Studmuffin long ago announced his intention to be somewhere else when this happened. The Admiral bailed on me, too. I was willing to do the job, but somebody has to hold the goat still. (Goats object to this procedure.)
Enter the Farm Daddy. Farm Daddy lives across the road and has patiently taught us much about livestock and pasture management. He also lets us play with his much larger equipment when ours isn’t up to the job.
Farm Daddy uses the surgical method on his Hereford cows. He has used the Burdizzo in the past, though, and was game to help us out. When I showed him our 9 inch model (the smaller of the two sizes available), his reaction was “that’s cute.” (Someday, I’ll tell you the story about the scrotal tape.)
We got up early while it was still cool and herded all the goats into a pen. We ran them single file through the chute and up into the head gate. Does got a free pass, doe kids got ear tagged as necessary, and the bucklings met their destiny.
Bucks are positioned in a sitting posture up against their handler, who then holds the legs on each side. The Burdizzo is positioned, clamped for five seconds, and then repositioned and clamped on the other side. I did the handling and the Farm Daddy did the dirty deed.
I was amazed. Look, I’m willing to do most of the veterinary work around here, but I was nervous about this. I was fully prepared today puke up my breakfast and then soldier on. Instead, it took us less than an hour to process all 9 bucks (including the chasing into the chute). While they hollered at the initial clamp, but there wasn’t nearly the amount of agony that I had worried about. The site must go numb almost immediately. Once they were released, all but one immediately resumed normal activity, with no crying or distressed behavior.
If you really feel the need to get a better idea of the procedure, you can visit Fias Co Farm for diagrams and before/after photographs.
Poor Studmuffin, though. Two of the bucks were bigger than I could safely handle and he had to hold them for the procedure. I’ve promised him that all future bucklings will be done before they get too large.
For those of you who are still with me, I promise that the next post will be about quilts. Really, I promise.
Meanwhile, take comfort in the fact that at least goat testicles are not on the local menu.