For most goat ranchers, one of the yearly rituals at the end of kidding season is to round most or all of the bucklings up and take them to the sale barn. If you don't do something with them, they will breed their little sisters. But the sale isn't the only option. Some ranchers keep the bucklings in a separate pen for a couple months to let them grow. Then, when they take them to the sale, the prices can be much higher - meaning more profit. But what if there isn't enough room for an extra pen? Many people suggest castration.
The idea behind castration is that you can keep the bucklings with the rest of the herd during the 60 to 90 day growth period. This way they cannot breed their little sisters - but this way you don't need a separate pen. Since most of the bucklings sold at the sale are used for slaughter, it doesn't matter whether or not they are intact. But this concept has a few flaws.
For starters, the only economical methods of castration are not as safe or effective as you might like. Most ranchers use the banding method. But it can have some major drawbacks. If both testicles are not completely trapped by the band, you can have a "wether" with just enough manhood to really mess things up. While this is not very likely, it only takes one. Infection is another issue that the banding method faces. It doesn't take very many dead goats to destroy your increased profit.
But these are not the only concerns. As many ranchers are aware, much of the meat goat market is driven by ethnic ceremonies. In these ceremonies, many groups prefer to have intact bucks - not wethers. By wethering the bucklings, the potential market for the animals decreases.
All this considered, castration is still not a bad idea. For many people the advantages outweigh the risks. Besides, many of these negatives are also region specific. Certain ethnic groups are more concentrated in various parts of the country; so depending on where you live, wethering may not be an issue. Infection is also much more likely in warmer climates.
But as I often mention, part of the fun in goat ranching is trying new strategies to see if they will work for you. So don't be afraid to experiment. You might even try wethering half of your bucklings and leaving the other half intact. Then by comparing the sale prices you can quickly tell whether or not you want to castrate again next year.