Why Do Billy Goats Smell So Bad?

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Billy goats -- or bucks, as goat fanciers correctly call them -- are intact male goats. Bucks stink with a peculiar odor that can be quite offensive to people who haven't been around goats. Neither does (female goats) nor wethers (castrated males) exhibit such odors.

Buck Smell

Bucks stink with a strong musky odor, which comes from both their scent glands, located near their horns, and their urine, which they spray on their face, beards, front legs and chest. They usually spray themselves during rut -- that is, the time when the does are in estrus. Rut usually occurs in late summer through fall, and it is the time when the buck is most smelly. While you may not find the odor pleasing, does find it irresistible.

When Do Bucks Stink?

Bucks smell pretty much all the time, but the rut causes them to smell worse. They will urinate on themselves then more than any other time of the year. Bucklings, or young male goats, usually start smelling like bucks when they become sexually mature. Since bucklings can become sexually mature as young as 2 months, you may have a stinky youngster at that age.

Preventing the Stench

Most goat owners separate their bucks from other herd members to avoid tainting the milk with the smell and to avoid unplanned breedings. This provides the additional benefit of keeping the buck smell away from all the other animals. Some goat owners trim their buck's beards and wash their bellies, legs and heads to reduce the strong urine scent.

Wethering

The best way to avoid the buck scent and behavior is to wether your buck. You can wether a buck using either a burdizzo or an elastrator. The burdizzo will crush the spermatic cord when used properly. The elastrator puts a strong rubber band around the top of the scrotum, which cuts off the blood flow to the scrotum and testes, causing them to fall off in a few weeks.

References (2)

  • Storey's Guide to Dairy Goats; Jerry Belanger.
  • Raising Goats for Dummies; Cheryl K. Smith.

Photo Credits

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