Basic goat terminology | Sundaze Farm

If you are just getting into goats and doing research online, you’ll frequently see people tossing around all sorts of terms that might confuse you. Below are a few basic terms that are helpful to get acquainted with.

Note that I’ve intentionally left out anatomical and medical terminology for now so that we can cover those topics more in-depth in future articles.

Banding – The act of castration by the use of a banding tool and specialized rubber bands

Boer – A heavy-bodied goat breed typically used for meat production (not to be confused with boar, which is an uncastrated male pig)

Buck – An intact adult male goat. Young male goats are called bucklings. Some people use the term billy interchangeably with the term “buck”, but this is a much less preferred term seen as old-fashioned slang by most goat breeders today.

Burdizzo – A specific brand name of emasculatome. An emasculatome is a tool used to castrate a male goat by crushing the spermatic cord through the skin without cutting or bleeding.

Cabrito – A Spanish term for meat specifically from a goat kid. (Similar to veal or lamb).

Caprine – The scientific term for goats.

Chevon – Goat meat.

Culls – Goats that are below a required standard (e.g. not up to standards in conformation or production). The act of culling is selecting and removing undesirable animals from a herd. To some people culling specifically refers to destroying these animals (oftentimes using them for meat), to others it simply means removing them from a breeding program and placing them into pet-only homes.

Disbudding – The act of permanently removing horns from a goat, typcially performed by burning with a hot iron.

Doe – An adult female goat. Young female goats are often called doelings.
Some people use the term nanny interchangeably with the term “doe”, but this is a much less preferred term seen as old-fashioned slang by most goat breeders today.

Dry – A term that describes a doe that is not in milk.

Estrus – The period of time a doe is sexually receptive to a buck, typically a window of 24-36 hours, also known as being “in heat”.

Flehmen response – When a goat curls back its upper lip, exposing its front teeth and deeply inhales. Many mammals do this and it is oftentimes seen in bucks when they are around does that are in estrus. You can read more about the Flehmen response here.

Freshening – When a doe comes into milk after having given birth.

Kid – The term for a young goat (male or female).

Kidding – The act of giving birth.

Heat – See estrus.

Open – A term for a doe that is not bred.

Polled – A term for goats that naturally do not grow horns.

Rut – The mating season for goats (as well as deer, sheep, and others). The term is typically used to describe the behavior of bucks during mating season. (i.e. “My buck is extra smelly because he is in rut.”)

Scours – A term for diarrhea in livestock.

Scurs – The term for small bits of irregular horn that may grow back after disbudding if it is not done correctly. Bucklings are especially difficult to fully disbud and may have scurs as a result.

Tribe or a Trip – The term for a group of goats. Very few people use these terms, and typically refer to their goats as a herd instead.

Wether – The term for a castrated (neutered) male goat. Note that it is not spelled weather or whether.

Wethering – The act of castrating (or neutering) a male goat by banding, the use of an emasculatome to crush the spermatic cords, or by cutting and removing the testicles.

Have I missed anything?

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