How to Band a Buckling

Thankfully it is easy to learn how to band a buckling and it requires only a few tools.

Quick disclaimer! I am not a veterinarian, just a homesteader. Always consult your veterinarian prior to administering any sort of medical care. Please see my full disclaimer here.

What is “banding”?

Banding is the process of placing a tight rubber band around the scrotum of a male goat. The bands cut off circulation/blood flow to the testicles and eventually they completely shrivel up and fall off the goat. The end result is a neutered male goat, or a “wether”.

Is banding painful to goats?

Yes. Let’s be real here, castration of any kind is not a painless procedure. Banding is seen as a humane way to castrate a goat. Is it less or more painful than cutting open bottom of the scrotum and pulling the testicles out? I can’t say and from what studies I have looked at, we don’t know for sure.

What are the benefits of banding a goat?

Banding a goat is a quick procedure that requires minimal tools and involves no blood, if that kind of thing upsets you.

I’ve heard stories of animals in pain for hours from banding, but in my experience they are uncomfortable for a few minutes and then everything appears to go numb and they go about their lives.

What are the negatives of banding a goat?

Some folks believe that banding is a more painful process as the discomfort is drawn out, rather than a quick slice.

Additionally, if done incorrectly there is a chance of fluid build up that can cause tetanus if precautions are not taken.

Banding also has a time limit on it. Once the testicles are too large, banding is no longer an option and other castration methods will have to be used.

orphan goat rough and tumble farmhouse
Ray, our now wether, snuggling with my bestie Courtney.

How long does banding a buckling take?

The actual process of banding only takes a few minutes. The actual testicles should shrivel up and fall off within a month or so.

I went out to take photos of my buckling/wether for this post and found that after three weeks his scrotum had already fallen off!

Are there alternatives to banding a buckling?

Yes, you can also castrate with a sanitary scalpel. This procedure is quick but does have the negative of leaving an open wound. As mentioned above, it is also unknown whether castration via cutting or banding is the least painful method for goats.

You can also leave them intact, but then you have a buck on your hands and not a wether.

When should a buckling be banded?

Bucks become sexually mature at about three months of age. They should be banded slightly before or at about this time. If you band them much later, their testicles can be too large to fit. Any earlier and you can stunt their growth.

Avoid times of high stress such as weaning or hot weather.

Signs that Something has Gone Wrong

It’s to be expected that the animal is uncomfortable for up to a half hour. It’s not uncommon for them to grind teeth, hold their head back, lie down, or even moan a little. You may also notice the buckling laying down more or walking funny for a day or two after the procedure.

If their behavior is still off after two days at most, there might be an issue and you should consult your veterinarian.

The testicles themselves shouldn’t swell much, and there should be no swelling around their stomach or hind end.

You should make daily checks of your goat to make sure the band is still secure and no swelling has started.

Make sure to observe the goat peeing as well. If they have not urinated, their urinary tract might be affected by the band in some way.

Tools Necessary to Band a Buckling


This is a simple tool that stretches out the rubber band and makes it big enough to get around the testicles. I don’t have the world’s strongest grip but I can easily use one.

how to use an elastrator

Castration Rings

These are small, thick, rubber rings that the elastrator stretches out. They typically come in packs of a 50-100, which is way more than most of us need. Most resources will tell you to buy new bands every year to ensure the rubber is solid and doesn’t break. We have used ours for up to three years and then we toss them. If your bands aren’t brand new, test some out in the elastrator, stretching them open and back to their normal size. Look for any cracking or deterioration.

castration rings rough and tumble farmhouse

CDT Vaccine

The biggest risk with banding goats is a tetanus infection. Even if your goats have already been vaccinated, the buckling being banded should be given a booster dose.


A needle will be necessary to give the CDT dose. Check out my post on Giving Injections to Livestock for more details.

How to Band a Buckling

This process, while technically possible by yourself, is much easier done with another person.

Start by giving the buckling an appropriate dose of CDT vaccine.

Cap the needle and hold on to it for later.

Next, place a rubber band on the elastrator and squeeze it to expand the rubber ring.

Place the goat’s scrotum through the open elastrator.

Now this part can be a little tricky but is very important. With your free hand, you will have to sort of massage the testicles down into the scrotum. You should feel two testicles down in the scrotum. If you only feel one, or the scrotum is empty (will just feel like skin) you need to work the testicles themselves down.

Once both testicles are securely in the scrotum and the rubber band is positioned on top, release the handles of the elastrator and pull it loose from the rubber band. The band is correctly positioned when both testicles are inside the scrotum, but the band is well below the goats teats and tummy.

This next step is one I hadn’t seen before, but my vet recently showed me on our now wether as a means of allowing for fluid drainage. It is optional but highly advised.

Before you let the goat go, uncap the syringe. Use the sharp end to make a slice just through the skin on either side of the scrotum. You don’t have to go very deep, just through the skin. There shouldn’t be any blood from this.

That’s it! Buckling is banded and on his way to becoming a wether.

For more great info on how to band a buckling along with photos, check out Backyard Goats.

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how to band a buckling rough and tumble farmhouse

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