How-to Disbud a Goat Kid
Dehorning or Disbudding?
Knowing how to disbud a goat kid is an important part of owning and showing goats. It is pretty simple, although not something that you ever enjoy.
Disbudding is a simple process. Using a special iron you cauterize the horn buds before they erupt. Dehorning is a difficult and bloody process, that should only be undertaken by a vet who is experienced in the process.
A long blood vessel runs almost the entire length of the horn and cutting through it during disbudding causes blood loss if not done right. Once the horn is removed the head is completely open into the sinus cavity and easily infected. The wound must be watched, cleaned, and cared for the entire healing time, up to one month.
You can see why it is better to disbud a goat kid!
How to Disbud Goat Kids
Get the best disbudding iron you can afford. I use the Rhinehart X-30 and like it very much. If you raise Nigerian Dwarf, or Pygmy goats you may need to get a special size tip. They also have special tips for the bucks because their horn base is larger.
The kids should be done before they are two weeks old. After the first two days check the head daily and as soon as you can feel the horn buds plan on disbudding. The smaller the bud is the easier it is to get all of it.
You will want to clean the tip with some steel wool after each disbudding session.
You will need either a kid holding box or an assistant to hold the kid firmly. Your assistant should hold the kid gently, with the back legs between his legs and the nose pressed down.
- Shave the area before attempting to disbud. This will make it easier to find the horn buds.
- Heat the disbudding tool up for fifteen minutes. You want it to be very hot. Test it on a piece of wood. When held to the wood it should make an immediate ring.
- Spray the kids horn buds with a spray anesthetic to cut down on the pain.
- Carefully but firmly hold the hot iron on the horn bud for about 15-20 seconds. You should see a good copper colored ring, and the blackened remains of a horn that you didn't see before.
- Make sure that the copper colored ring is completely round.
- Spray furazone on the area and comfort the kid before giving it back to it's dam. Even if you are milking it would be good to let it nurse for the rest of the day.
- Keep watch for the next couple of weeks. If the horns start growing back you may need to repeat the process.
But Why Do It At All?
Disbudding is a requirement for many registered breeds of goats, and is wise for all of them. Most Breeder's Associations and 4-H clubs do require that a goat be disbudded for showing.
A goat learns to use it's horns early in life, and can seriously hurt another goat, another animal or even a person without even meaning to. Two bucks in a pen, both with horns, can seriously damage each other or even kill each other especially during rutting season.
Goats with horns can get them caught in fences. They can literally hang themselves by the horns. More than one breeder has gone out to a field to find a goat that has been killed this way.
The key is to do it when the goat is young.
Why Would You Want A Goat Kid?
No one likes to disbud but it is one of those things that needs to be done, and done well. Learn to hold the disbudding iron firmly so you can get it done right the first time and not have to do the process over again.
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