Goatview Farm - The Saint Report www.goatview.com

 

September 5
What the Heck is a Buck Rag?

Someone recently asked me if goats are really stinky or if "smells like an old goat" unjustly maligns our caprine friends. Let me begin my explanation with a sad story.

A friend of mine owned a goat dairy. The dairy was spotless, as dairies are supposed to be, and my friend was not an ill-groomed man. He showered daily and didn't leave the farm in unclean clothes.

Well, one day he finished his farm work, took a shower, put on freshly laundered clothes and clean shoes, and took his nice neat truck to town for groceries. As he stood in line waiting to check out, the person behind him asked, "Do you work with livestock?" Quite properly, my friend did not assume that the person behind him had unusually well-developed olfactory abilities; he correctly assumed that he had finally spent enough time with goats that no amount of soap and water could free him from their scent. I don't think he ever went anywhere off the farm again without wearing an apologetic demeanor.

Yes, goats stink. More exactly, male goats who are not neutered stink and everyone and everything that is with them becomes sullied by the association. Male goats (bucks) have scent glands on their head and probably in other places, too, that release an oil that they spend a lot of time spreading all over themselves. If you have to compare the smell to something, think skunk. It is an acrid and penetrating odor that only a female goat (doe) in heat could find compelling (or even bearable).

Now, you would think that this natural aroma would be sufficient to attract a mate, but bucks don't take chances. Just in case a doe might not notice him with just the scent gland oil, the buck in rut gilds the lily by urinating all over himself and working THAT into his coat, too. So now you have an animal that reeks to high heaven, is yellow and sticky, and walks around stiff-legged with his tongue hanging out making a blubbering noise at anything that might need to get bred. The first time I saw a buck, I was horrified. I couldn't believe that they were even the same species as the sweet little dairy does with which I was familiar.

Have you heard of Satyrs? The Greek myths are full of these horny nymph-chasing little rascals that are, not unintentionally, half goat. The Greeks knew their goats all right. My little joke is that bucks approach everything with a 3-F attitude: everything is either for food, fighting, or for making love to.

Anyway, to a female goat in heat, there is nothing on the face of the earth as beautiful as the smell of a buck in rut. Some female goats who are raised on farms where no buck is kept (and now you know why), don't come into strong heats since they never get the scent stimulation necessary. For these reticent girls, a good whiff of a buck rag can sometimes work wonders. A buck rag is a cloth that has been rubbed all over a buck in rut and then kept in a sealed jar so the scent is nice and ripe. Here's a little story I got off a bulletin board:

"We just tried it on two doelings we just got a month ago-and it did seem to help the bigger one come into heat-she just seemed kinda confused and I tried the rag and wham-she figured it out. Maybe conincidence, not sure. We had her bred on Saturday, and the other one who is slighly smaller had not shown signs of heat-until a couple of days after the other one came home smelling rather bucky. The breeder we are working with told us that would probably happen. She said in her experience, having a buck around makes it much easier to tell when a doe come into heat, and seems to help a younger (first timer) come into heat. Hope that helps..by the way-after the first whiff of the rag-other than some interest nothing happened, it became obvious a few hours later-lots of noise and flagging. I let her smell it again and she responded quickly. The next am, as soon as she saw the jar I am using to store the rag-she went berserk!"

So in conclusion, if you want to attract a mate, and you are particular about his or her species, be aware of what his or her nose is going to say about you and for heaven's sake don't raise goats.

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Sound of a Nubian doe in heat.

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Marilyn Jones 2000-2008