How to Keep a Buck so you can Breed your Goats

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Raising goats can be a bit overwhelming at first, especially when it comes to housing your herd. This article will walk you through how to keep a buck on your homestead so you can breed your herd each season without issues the rest of the year.

Goat breeding and goat kidding can be scary, but it doesn’t have to be. Learn what you can and implement a new phase as your confidence grows, and you will have a system that works for you and your herd.

If you want a daily dose of delicious goat milk, and cheese, and butter then you need to breed your goats. For some that can be a bit scary and overwhelming but it doesn't have to be! See how I got through my first year with a buck and how easy ti was to breed my goats. #goats #dairygoats #breedgoats

Whether you raise goats for meat or dairy, breeding is something that needs to be considered when mapping out your setup. If you plan to raise dairy goats, you will need to breed those goats in order to ensure you have a constant supply of milk.

This means you either need to raise bucks for breeding or find a buck elsewhere you can rent. If you choose to raise bucks then housing bucks for breeding goats is something you will want to look into.

READ: How to Rent a Buck for Breeding

(If you are an experienced goat owner and just want the housing details you may want to skip to the end.)

how to keep bucks on your homestead

For us, we learned early on that keeping a buck (or 5 if you have letting go issues) was the best way. This meant we could breed on our own schedule which is important if you are older (ahem like I am) and you are raising goats with little help.

Let me just say that having 5 goats all due the same week is not the way to go. Staggering births will keep you sane and your goats sane as well.

One thing I did not know (and oh boy I wish I did) was the nature of a buck, especially one that is in rut. I planned on housing our buck inside of the barn with the rest of my little herd. I soon found out that when a buck is in rut they transform into, well something else entirely.

You can read more on Buck Rut here. 

Characteristics of a Goat Buck in Rut

There are a few things to know before you decide to keep a buck on property. I am not listing things out to deter you, but knowing what to expect will eliminate any surprises later on.

Strong Scent

The biggest characteristic of a goat in rut is the scent. And trust me when I say, it’s a strong one. When a buck is in rut he will “spray” himself (meaning he will spray urine on his face, front legs, and beard).

This odor is what the does are drawn to and will, more often than not, put a female goat into heat if she is around it long enough. The bad news is, if this smell is anywhere near your barn, it will make everything in that barn smell as well. Including you, your milk if you have a milking stall in your barn, your hay, and anything else that is the least bit porous.

a buck eating grain out of a blue bucket


Goat bucks in a rut can get a bit crazy, although not intentionally. I have never had a truly crazy buck (knock on wood), but I have heard some stories. If a determined buck wants to get to a doe in heat, he will get to that doe in heat no matter how secure your housing is.

Housing bucks in a barn with your does may not be the best option as it will only make your bucks crazy, wanting to get to the does no matter what the cost. Now, that doesn’t mean it can’t be done. I just find it very difficult, and for that reason, we keep our bucks outside in a lean to shelter. 

Changes in Eating

A buck in rut may stop eating during breeding season. Bucks can get pretty obsessed with does in heat. So much so that they will stop eating and just pace and look for a way to get to the does. For this reason, it is important to “know” your goats. This will help you see quickly when something is off or not right. 

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Goat bucks in rut can be noisy as they will call out to the female does, letting them know they are nearby. If you have a frustrated buck, they will yell to let you (and your neighbors) know it.

how to keep bucks on your homestead for breeding

Not all bucks are loud, but we raise Nubians and they are known for their vocalness. To help, we just give our neighbors a heads up that things might get a bit noisy, and they are fine with that. 


Now, I am not telling you all of this to deter you from raising your own bucks for goat breeding, but I do want you to go into this with your eyes wide open. These are all things I had to learn the hard way. Knowing then what I know now would have saved me so many headaches.

Buck Housing Options

We prefer to keep our breeding buck out behind our barn in his own shelter. A simple lean-to is all we need to house him during the warmer months when we are not breeding. It did not start here, but over the years, I have learned what works best, and for us, this works best.

a buck looking over an electric fence netting in buck housing area

We also have our buck in his own grazing area as well so he can go onto pasture throughout the day as he wants. Our buck shelter is far enough away that he is not distracted by the herd, yet close enough that he can see the other goats.

Let me just stop here and say that goats are highly social animals, even bucks. For that reason, it is best to have a wether (a male goat that has been “fixed” or castrated) in with your bucks. Make sure your wether is a tough goat since they can end up being the target of a buck that is in rut.

Lucky for us our buck is not loud, however, I still let my neighbors know that breeding season is coming up and things may get a bit noisy over at our place. Even though our neighbors are not close, this just helps to keep things friendly between us.

Can bucks be out all winter?

Yes, they can and they tend to tolerate the weather quite well. If you live in a cold area do not be tempted to pamper your goats with heaters or coats. You will only pay for it in the end. A goat is fully capable of growing a lovely thick winter coat that will keep them warm and dry in winter weather. Let them acclimate to the changing temperatures naturally, and they will grow what they need to stay warm all winter long.

I have purchased goats that were raised in heated barns, only to find them to be fragile with a weak constitution. They simply do not have the stamina to make it through a cold winter without help. I am not saying you shouldn’t buy a goat that was raised this way, but I am saying to buy them in the spring so they have plenty of time to get acclimated to a non-heated shelter before the temps drop.

how to keep bucks in the winter

Since our bucks are outside year-round (except for breeding season), they all have nice thick coats by winter. They rarely shiver, and their health is hardy and robust. The reason their coats are so thick is that they have time to develop. As the temperatures begin to drop, goats will begin to grow their fur. The colder the weather gets, the thicker the fur.

Lesson? Put your goats out early so they have time to “harden up” and be better able to handle a cold winter with few issues.

What all does a buck need to be housed?

#1.  A good, sturdy shelter

You do not need a huge shelter, but they should be able to stand up inside of it and be fed and watered. This will keep them out of rain and snow unless they want to be. Also, make sure the shelter has at least 3 sides.

how to house bucks on your homestead for your goats

#2.  Place your shelter away from the wind.

This was another lesson we learned really quick. Put your opening so it is facing out of the wind. For us, that is facing north or east. Also, know you will have those crazy storms that blow the wrong way to have a plan B for those situations. Our lean-to is deep enough that our buck can get out of the weather no matter what the wind wants to do.

#3.  Have a way to feed hay, grain, minerals, and water inside of the lean-to if possible.

This just makes sure that everything is kept dry and moisture-free.

housing a buck on the homestead

#4.  Have a grazing area

You will want to be sure you have enough room for them to move outside of their shelter. You can use steel panels to close in an area or use electric fence netting to give them ore grazing. Either will work fine; just know if you do not have grazing for your goats, you will need to supplement them daily with cut hay.

a buck and a wether in an enclosed are to prevent breeding in goat herd c

#5.  Add concrete or rocks

This one I feel is pretty important. Goat hooves are something that cannot be ignored even on smelly bucks. To keep things trimmed I have several old concrete slabs that I have in my buck’s run. I put them in upside down so the rough pebbly part is facing up.

Goats do not like to be wet and they will prefer to walk on dry ground rather than wet. When my bucks walk on the concrete slaps they keep their hooves shaved down enough that I only need to trim things every few months rather than every month like I do my does.

housing bucks for breeding goats

#6. Have adequate fencing

Like I said before, our bucks are pretty well-behaved. This is lucky for us and not something you can train into a buck. If they are born crazy, odds are they will remain crazy. So, know the mannerisms of your buck and house them accordingly. For us, cattle panels work just fine.

These are 5-foot-high steel fencing that come in long sheets. They are pretty easy to move, even for me, and you can use heavy-duty zip ties to hold the panels together, giving you a long sheet for fencing. We then use heavy steel fence stakes (make sure they are heavy duty) that we drive into the ground to attach the panels too, again with zip ties.

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When staking a steel fence, be sure to put the stakes on the outside. Goats are very VERY curious and your buck will spend most of the day “standing” on the fence. (see the image above, yes, he does that all day long!) By having your stakes to the outside, you will give extra support to your big buck’s weight.

SLCG ProTip: I suggest walking your fencing line at least monthly so you are always aware of any weak issues that may come up.

More Goat Fence Guides:

#7.  Keep things dry

If your run gets really wet and you do not have concrete or rock to put in, then sawdust may be your only other option. (do not use wood, it is very slippery when wet and you can easily hurt your goat)

I will put down a nice layer in the fall when we prep for winter and add to it as needed throughout the winter. Please know if you add too much sawdust or wood chips to your ground you will deter drainage and cause a bigger issue. Make sure you have adequate draining before you begin adding anything.

how to house bucks on your homestead for goats

#8.  Close it up in the dead of winter

If you need to keep your buck outside in the winter, you will want to put a cover on the front to keep the snow and wind out of the shelter. You can do this by screwing in a board or a heavy duty tarp that will cover ¾ of the opening. Also, you can place a few straw bales inside to help get your goat up off the cold ground.

It is very important to make sure you have ventilation yet not a draft. Goat urine if full of ammonia and this is not good to breathe in all day and night. You will need ventilation to keep the air fresh. Usually, an opening at the roof of the shelter will give you the airflow you need.

how to use a lean to to house a buck goat

#9. Warm them up when it’s really cold

I like to give our buck very warm water to drink when the temps are at their worst. He LOVES this water and usually drinks it as I pour it.

Another easy way to warm a goat up quickly is with hay and lots of it. Fresh hay encourages your goats to eat, and as they do, their rumen gets to work on the hay, acting like a furnace heating your goats from the inside out. More often than not, a little hay and warm water will take the shivers away in minutes.

Above all things, trust your goat. They are pretty hardy if given a good clean shelter. As long as they have a thick coat and housing that is out of the wind and snow they will do just fine.

If you are not sure of the comfort of your lean-to, crawl inside. I do this every year to make sure things are toasty, comfortable and smelling fresh. More often than not I am pleasantly surprised. With their winter coat, the extra sawdust, and heavy bedding a lean-to can easily house your goats year-round in any weather.

When raising goats having everything on your homestead is convenient.

If you have been nervous about housing a buck for your herd I hope you found some helpful tips and encouragement here. Above all things, education is your best tool. Research, ask questions and visit other farms in your area. Seeing how others house their goats and bucks will be quite helpful.

I was able to visit quite a few homesteads when I first started out, and I took the best from each to come up with my own layout. Try it, and if it doesn’t work, change it. There are no rules with goats, and they will be the first to tell you!!

More Buck Care Tips:

Are you new to goats and a bit nervous about your bucks this breeding season? Then read my checklist on how to safely house your bucks on your homestead and you can begin breeding this season. #goats #goatbucks #goatshelters


  1. I raise goats and currently have two very healthy bucks. I have been told to not let the bucks breed with their daughters because it may cause birth defects. Have you had any problems with this? I would like to keep one of the bucks and not sale

    1. Hi, Dot,

      I do not breed fathers to daughters or any other relations in our goats. We prefer to sell our offspring and only breed non-related does to our bucks. Another option is to have two bucks so you do not have to breed one related animal to another.

      For us, it is not worth the risk of delivery, health, or quality issues to breed related animals.
      Tracy Lynn

    2. You sound like someone I don’t need to take any advice from. Inbreeding animals is asinine. You need two bucks. Put color tags in their ears. All offspring get the same color as their Dad. One buck gets a white tag and the other gets any other color. Never breed a white tag kid to a white tagged buck, period! What you are producing is bad for the bloodline. DO NOT INBREED GOATS!!!

      1. Hello, Dan,

        Thank you so much for this comment and to be clear we have never nor would we ever inbreed our goats or any other animals on our homestead. I did not realize there was a comment here advising of this practice and it has been removed.

        I love your advice on tagging and think it will be helpful to so many homesteaders to try.

        Inbreeding is not a practice that I advise to anyone for obvious reasons. The health of the doe and kids, quality of characteristics and quality of breed lines is not worth the risk of inbreeding. For this reason SLCG does not recommend it.

        Tracy Lynn

  2. Colleen Richards says:

    Thank you so much for your article! This was just what I was looking for when I was searching for ideas for a pen for my 2 fainting goat bucks. I have the perfect spot for it, and they will be able to see their goat friends. I’m so happy I came across this when I did!!! Looking forward to reading more!! -Colleen-

    1. Hi, Colleen!

      So glad you found this post helpful. Keeping bucks can be tricky but as long as you put them in a safe and secure home you should be just fine!!

      Tracy Lynn

  3. Carolyn Hammack says:

    I have 2 saanens that are 8 months old,very healthy, so you think I should wait until they are over a year old to breed? I have read and been told that even bottle raised bucks that have always been docile, can be dangerous during rut, I am in an area where I have not been able to find stud service when I do want to breed.

    1. Yes, Carolyn, even docile bucks become a bit aggressive during rut. I always keep my distance during that time just to be safe. Sturdy housing is the key to avoiding issues so make sure you have things in place before rut begins. With that being said, I have never been in any danger with my bucks. Being hands-on with them from day one is key to keeping things safer during rut.
      Even though 10 months is the recommended I prefer to wait until after a year to breed my gals. This is just what is comfortable for me. I know quite a few folks that breed at 10 months. If your does look strong and healthy you should be fine. Use your best judgment.
      Good Luck!
      Tracy Lynn

  4. I loved your article! I have two does and a wether (Buddy). He is not nice to the girls at all! I found a very handsome buck that I would like but then what about Buddy? So now I feel ok about Buddy living with a new buck.

    1. Yes, Buddy can absolutely live with your buck, but be ready for some adjustment time. At first there will be some fighting and head butting and that is okay so don’t worry if you see that happening. Adjustment can be scary with animals, so just be patient and you will be fine!
      Tracy Lynn

  5. This was a fabulous post. Thank you!

  6. I have two Nigerian Dwarf bucks who are brothers. Can i keep them in the same pen during rut or should we keep them in separate pens that are close together? Thanks!

    1. Hello, Jennifer!
      If they get along you should be just fine. I keep more than one buck in rut together and have not had problems, just be aware that they might be more rambunctious.
      If it were me I would keep them together.
      Good Luck!
      Tracy Lynn

  7. Nichole G. says:

    How far away do you need to keep the male from the females? I woukd imagine too close and the smell of them in heat woukd make him a bit crazed. I was thinking a wether for company so it wouldn’t matter if he could see the females or not. Thanks, very useful article. We are thinking about raising sheep for meat, also. Have you heard anything about keeping the male goat and sheep together?

    1. It really all depends on the housing and how solid it is to keep your bucks contained. Your doe’s scent will carry for miles so there is really no exact way to limit that, however, if they can see the girls and you have a very determined buck that might be something to consider.
      Our buck was just a few yards from our does and he was able to get out once, we made a few adjustments allowed him to get a “zap” on his nose to remind him of the pain our fence would give him and we had no more issues after that.
      We do have a wether that lives with our buck, but during rut we keep him separate. A buck in rut will mount anything and our wether was getting pretty beat up. Once we start breeding our buck would then head ram our wether because he saw him as a “threat”. Now we keep our wether separate until the does are bred or our buck is done with rut. Then everyone goes back to their regular spring/summer homes.
      I hope this helps!
      Tracy Lynn

  8. Amy Campbell says:

    Thank you for this article–it was very helpful. I have been reluctant to get a buck because of the stories you hear about them, but we are getting one soon and this made it seem “less yucky”. I also didn’t want him smelling up the barn, but now know we can have a run in for him and he will be fine. Happy farming!! Amy

    1. Hi, Amy!
      Just know that all bucks are NOT created equal. You can have a buck that smells just a little and another that smells a whole lot. Just keep that in mind and be sure to have separate clothes when you do barn things to keep that smell out of your house. 🙂
      Good Luck!
      Tracy Lynn

  9. Hi We have a small hobby farm. Presently have one doe with two kids, two and a bit old doelings we plan to breed this fall and a year + old buckling who is father of the kids (that are destined for a new home) and we will breed to our doelings. We also in the same collection have a wether, two alpaca, a llama and a sheep. Our buckling has been living separately but adjacent to the herd since the kids were born. The kids have found a way to visit their “dad” and move freely between both paddocks without any problems. Only in the last week or so has the Buck decided to become “Rammy” with us. He will take a run at us without warning. You can be scratching his back one minute and getting hit in the backside the next. I hate not being able to comfortably turn my back on him. I am wondering could this behaviour be related to “Rutt”? If any of the does are coming into season would this make his behaviour change greatly? Until now we haven’t kept a buck. We just borrowed. He seemed fine for so long but now is he jsut “growing up”? He was always a bit push when in with the herd, He usually had a couple in the herd he targeted more. I am wondering if being adjacent to the herd is the problem? He seems more content when it is feeding time etc to be right on the other side of the fence from the herd. I feel bad because they are a herd animal that he can’t be with the herd. I am open to any input or suggestions on how best to manage him.

    1. Oh, you’re absolutely correct. When a buck is in rut they tend to get a bit pushy. This is usually only temporary and should go away after breeding season is over or all of your does have been bred. No matter how friendly your buck is, you should never turn your back on him when he is in rut. 🙂
      Our first buck was more like a pet, I absolutely adored him and he would let me do anything to him without complaint. But when he was in full rut and I still had does that needed to be bred, I really had to keep my distance. Don’t worry your sweet buck should come back to you soon!

      Good Luck!
      Tracy Lynn

  10. Thanks for your article. I have just started with goats. I have two does a little over a year old and a buck now about 6 mos. The one doe was definitely in heat a couple days ago but doesn’t seem to want his attention now. However, he is chasing her all over even bothering her when she is lying down. I had intended to let them all run together without a separate pen for the buck. I have a hillside of about 1/2 acre for them all to roam in but I don’t want this buck to wear out the does when he is in rut. I had intended to have them run as a herd. Any suggestions? Thanks

    1. Once the buck has bread the does and they are no longer in heat, he will not bother them anymore. I let my buck run with my does all winter long unless he gets overly aggressive, then I do need to separate them, but this doesn’t happen too often.

  11. Hollie Meckler says:

    Can a buck share a fence line with does?

    1. Hello, Hollie!

      Here’s the thing with bucks. If they are in Rut and are near a doe that is in heat they will do all that they can to get to those does. But, that all depends on their personality.
      Our first buck was just fine sharing a fence that was a 5′ cattle panel attached to stakes that were securely set into the ground. Our next buck would jump that 5′ fence without thinking twice, so we had to add another 5-foot panel to that first one using zip ties to connect the two pieced together.
      We eventually had to separate our herds altogether keeping a secure fence for each and a good 15 feet between fences.

      My final advice is this, plan for the worst and hope for the best. Assume your buck will do anything he can. to get to your does and put into place the most secure fence you are able to.

      Good luck!
      Tracy Lynn

    2. If you don’t want your doe pregnant, do not share a fence line. They will bread through a wire fence.

  12. Melissa S. says:

    Thank you so much for this great article! I am a new goat mom (well they are coming next month) I have 2 does coming July 3rd (one is the mom to the other) and 1 buck and 1 wether coming July 31st. I was thinking I would keep them all together in the barn with separate pens for the boys/girls, however after reading this in realizing real quick I don’t want the boys in the barn. My question is can I build the boys a house outside and allow them to share a run with the does? Or do they need their own run altogether? My buck will be wearing an apron, but is that enough? Both of my boys and my young doe were all born in May/early June so they can’t be bed until next spring. Would love your opinion on this and any advice you could give me!

    1. I totally understand your concerns, Melissa but honestly, it all depends on your buck. My first buck was a total gentleman. I raised him from a baby (not bottle-fed) and was constantly hands-on with him from day one. This really helped him to see me as the boss and listen to my commands more willingly.
      With that being said….all rules are out the window when you have a buck in rut and a doe in heat.
      If you do not want accidental breedings go overboard with separation. However, you should not need to go crazy when your buck is this young. So your fencing can grow with your buck as you see where you need to improve and where you are set.
      Tracy Lynnm

  13. Very useful article. We have 2 wee Does around 4 months old and have just got a 7 month old Buck. At present they are in the pen together, is this OK? When will the does come into heat and when is the Buck at sexuel maturity? When’s best to separate them as I don’t want my girls pregnant too young. Appreciate your help as I am very new to keeping goats x

    1. Hi, Lisa!
      I myself would not keep bucks and does together after the age of 12 weeks. It is always better to be safe than sorry!

      Tracy Lynn

  14. You have a good article but I would like to add that I would use something stronger than zip ties to hold the pen together. My buck would never stay in. We have everything put together with strong wire and also have electric around it. I have had bucks that can jump a 5′ fence and have had bucks breed does thru the fence. That being said, I do have 5 bucks in one pen and they all are anywhere from 250 lbs to over 300 lbs so the can do lots of damage to a fence and I won’t have a mean buck, it is way to risky but yes you still have to remember they are still a buck and can be rambunctious. Thank you so much for this article.

    1. Thank you for your input, we have always used zipties and have never had a problem with the fences not being secure. The stakes are in the ground pretty far and that is a huge part of the stability. We also only have one buck, can’t ever imagine what it would be like to have 5!
      Metal ties will probably be more secure with a fence housing a group of bucks or a determined buck.

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