We raise Nigerian Dwarf goats primarily for milk production, so that means the does need to be bred yearly and that about half of the resulting offspring will be male. Unfortunately, only a few intact male goats (bucks) are really needed in the goat breeding world; and, those bucks are usually rather smelly – so additionally only a few are really wanted. On the other hand, neutered (wethered) male goats make very sweet pets (not aggressive or smelly like bucks and very affectionate) and great 4H projects for kids, so it make sense to wether most of the male offspring.
There are three popular methods for wethering goats; surgically, burdizzo, or banding. Banding is typically bloodless, the least complicated to perform, and the most common (although some argue that it’s inhumane) so that’s the method we’ve chosen to use. It involves placing a thick elastic band around the scrotum above the testes of the goat (which cuts off the blood supply) and then waiting until the testes shrivel and fall off. This usually takes one to two weeks depending on the age of the goat when banded.
The equipment needed for banding is fairly simple and inexpensive – just the elastrator used to expand the elastic band and the elastic bands themselves (see photos below). They can be ordered from Caprine Supply (as well as other suppliers) and are about $16.00 for the elastrator and a package of one hundred bands (the bands last for several years if kept refrigerated).
Application of the band takes two people – one person holding the goat upright, facing outward toward the other person applying the band. The elastic band is placed on the elastrator, the elastrator is squeezed to expand the band, the band is positioned on the scrotum above the testes , and the elastrator is removed allowing the band to constrict the scrotum (being careful not to pinch teats or other skin). Once banded, it’s important to keep an eye on the area to make sure it stays clean and dry, or to apply a topical ointment if necessary (to prevent fly strike or infection if there’s any open wound). The buckling should also have received his CD/T shot prior to the procedure or an injection of tetanus antitoxin should be administered.
It’s best to wait as long as possible to band the baby bucklings so that their urethra grows to size (so that they won’t have difficulties with urinary calculi (urinary stones)), but they also become fertile at about eight weeks so most folks don’t wait much longer than that. We’ve been banding the bucklings at between eight and ten weeks of age. So far, there haven’t been any complications with the procedure – the former bucklings usually lie down for a while after being banded but seem to be back to normal within an hour or so.