Raising breeding bucks to sell to the public is no easy matter. Handling the buck herd is a whole different ballgame compared to handling your sweet ol’ doe herd. And, trying to keep weight on the buck herd can be a real pill. The buck is meant for one thing, in his mind, and that is to breed. He stays focused on this from the age of about one month to the day he dies. Eating, drinking enough water, taking care of his health, is the farthest thing from a buck’s mind.
Put a bunch of young bucks together and they run and whoop and holler and jump each other, run the fence to holler at the girls, urinate on their own faces, on their front legs, on each other, on you, and jump each other again. They are too busy running, jumping each other, looking for girls to even consider settling down to do something as simple as eat. Last month I went to feed two 11 month old bucks in a pen and they were reared up with their front feet on the gate, for once telling me to hurry and feed them, and the whole time they were hosing down the gate. If I had walked within a foot or two, I would have been hosed down, too.
I seriously considered going to get my rain coat just so I could open the gate, but I ended up distracting the boys by running down the other side of the fence and they took off following me on their side of the fence, to keep up with the grain bucket. Then I was able to double back, put their grain out, and stay dry. A couple of days later I was out cleaning water tubs and putting fresh water in and was met by 9 yearling bucks, all looking quite cheerful and happy to see me and wanting to rub their heads on my side. Only thing, all their heads were dripping wet, even the ears were soaked and dripping.
Had they just got a drink out of the tub? Had it just quit raining? No, they were busy being bucks, hosing their own heads down and anyone who got inquisitive and got in the way. They were quite jolly about it all. I was the only one going, “Eohh. Yuck.” and other similar words that pertained to being grossed out. It wasn’t easy ducking and dodging their friendly head rubbing that they like to greet everyone with. Yuck.
Then you also have to carefully watch the attitude of the buck herd towards one another. They’ll all take turns trying to jump on one another and the one being jumped whirls around and thumps the jumpee and tells him to back off. But, sometimes the young buck herd can get into a mindset and choose one or two bucks and call them “girlfriend”. These “girlfriend” bucks are constantly being hounded, rode on, by all the others. They constantly have to fight to defend their virtue and never get a chance to rest and eat. Enough bucks in the field, the “girlfriends” can get rode into submission or die from malnutrition, tiredness, whatever.
When you see that the herd has picked a “girlfriend or girlfriends” and these one or two fellows are getting attacked by everyone all the time, it’s time to move those “girlfriends” out and put them in a different pen or they will get sick and die on you. The buck herd has to be constantly monitored.
You also have to usually put in the same age group or size of bucks together. A four or five month old buck kid won’t stand a chance against a yearling buck or bucks. Their disposition and size have to match to keep from getting a “girlfriend” in your buck herd.
A month ago we decided to add three new bucks to the main For Sale buck herd. One of these boys was two months younger then the others, but because he was the same size as everyone else and had a dominant personality, we decided to give it a try. We ran the three new boys on the other side of the fence for over a week so they could get use to each other and then we put the three in with the group.
Immediately the buck herd assumed these were all girls and the three new bucks assumed that the buck herd was all girls, too. What a bunch of yelling and whooping and jumping on each other that went on. There were 8 particularly aggressive bucks that I was concerned about that might be too much for the new bucks to handle. I stayed close as I did chores and kept checking on the situation.
I got busy with something in the barn and an hour later ran out to make sure everyone was okay. On the way to the young buck pasture I heard one loud dominant voice, bellowing out his buck holler. There, backed into the corner of the shed were the 8 dominant bucks, not saying a word, staring at the two month younger buck in front of them. This younger buck was slapping the ground, hollering, snorting at all of the 8 aggressive bucks. The aggressive bucks had started out saying to the younger buck, “You’re my girlfriend.” And, it ended up the younger buck said back, “No, you ALL are mine.” What a surprise.
Anyone with aspirations of keeping a For Sale buck herd for the public will usually need more then one pen for the bucks and find themselves sorting bucks out frequently according to size, age, aggressiveness, and you will also be worrying about trying to keep some weight on these single minded animals where health and food are not their major concern. You might also want to consider buying a rain coat to wear.