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This buck goat gives milk.

I recently acquired an American Alpine buck from a good milking line. He is around two years old.

After a few weeks, when he was standing with his front legs up against the fence of his pen, I noticed something hanging right in front of his testicles. Upon closer inspection I found an udder. One of the teats was larger than the other and contained milk.

My first reaction was disappointment and shock, thinking I had a hermaphrodite on my hands. With the help of some friends I began to research the subject.

Only a couple of the publications at Texas A&M veterinary library even mention gynecomastia, the development of mammary glands in bucks. All in all the information is very limited. No research to speak of has been done on the subject.

Goat Medicine, by Mary C. Smith, DVM, and David M. Sherman, DVM, MS, mentions the fact that in England mammary gland development is seen in bucks from high producing lines of British Saanens and that the phenomenon is usually observed in the summer. (My buck, however, has it in the middle of winter.) This publication also states that fertility is unaffected.

However, I also found another theory regarding fertility. About half of the people ever having encountered a "milking buck" say that the buck becomes infertile sooner or later. I checked with the previous owners who said he had sired a number of offspring without problems. And if libido is an indication of fertility, he should not have any problems. At least not yet.

Goat Medicine further states: "Several animals that have been followed closely showed a progressive decline in libido and semen quality. . . In another study, milk secretion by four mature bucks could not be associated with reduced fertility."

I would like to know if any countrysiders have encountered this phenomenon. Is there anything I could learn from anyone who has dealt with this problem?

I could just cull the buck and go on with another one. But I am curious nevertheless. I have let him breed a young doe which, if he is indeed fertile, should kid in early July. But if fertility declines as he gets older, this will prove nothing.

The suggested treatment and control is to reduce the protein and energy levels in the feed, which I have done. So far this has not decreased the size of the udder.

How big is the risk of him developing mastitis, which also is mentioned in the meager publication? Not that the buck seems to be sick or unwell.

Sanitize utensils for healthy kids

Last year my babies suddenly turned down their bottles. I checked the does for mastitis and finally called my mother, who has been raising goats for almost 20 years.

Did I clean the bottles, she asked? (Of course. I scrubbed them twice a day.)

But she said I should bleach them, because no matter how hard you scrub and boil, a milk residue may remain and cause an off-flavor.

I tried it and bingo! Babies' appetites were back to normal!

I now use plastic cola bottles, bleach every third night, and toss them after 2-3 weeks. No problems. I also routinely bleach the buckets and funnels and nipples (soak overnight). On the contrary, he is a very spunky, healthy looking animal.

All in all, anything I could find is based on very little actual experience. Quoting the final sentence from Goat Medicine: ". . .there is insufficient evidence at this time to justify automatic culling of the fertile animal."

If anyone has any information, please contact me at the above address.

We have heard of milking bucks before, but could add little to this discussion. Anyone with more information is invited to share it with other Countrysiders.

Milk never spoils!

This unusual bit of information came from George F. W. Haenlein, cooperative extension dairy specialist at the University of Delaware:

"Because of its complete balance of nutrients, milk is the only food that never spoils. If you put a piece of hamburger and some apples and a glass of milk on a table, leave them there for four weeks, when you return you will find that the hamburger and the apples have spoiled and putrefied. Not true for the milk. The only thing that will have happened to the milk is that it turned sour, became like yogurt and, more likely than not, already is in the state of a cheese. This is just fermented cheese, surrounded by edible whey, which is the only change of milk in appearance and culture. It is perfectly fine to eat, and for some people, even more delicious than the original milk. This fermentation is a natural process accomplished without the addition of any preservative!"
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Author:Macaulay, Karin
Publication:Countryside & Small Stock Journal
Date:Jul 1, 1997
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