Disbudding part one: discussion

by goatlove

I’ll go ahead and start this post by saying that I’m not an expert on disbudding.  For valuable and detailed information on disbudding, check out Fias Co Farm’s website:  http://fiascofarm.com/goats/disbudding.htm

What is this disbudding nonsense?
Disbudding is dehorning, or removing the horns from a baby goat, or kid, using an effing hot iron.

That sounds cruel!  Why would you do that to a living thing?
You old softie!  J/k.  Goats that are not disbudded are a danger to themselves, other goats, and people.  Horns can get stuck in fences and horns can puncture skin.
On our farm, a horned goat punctured the milk bag of another goat.  This obviously caused a lot of pain to the injured goat, not to mention the farmers’ money in the form of not only vet bills but also a loss in milk production as the injured teat had to be dried up (this means only one of two teats is in use.  Worse things could have happened: the injured goat could have lost her life or the horned goat could have been sent to slaughter for injuring a herd mate.  The point is, disbudding allows a farmer to avoid these kinds of accidents.

When is the best time to disbud?
The optimum age to disbud varies from kid to kid, but kids should be ready within a week of birth, when you can feel a nub coming in.  If you wait to long, you’re screwed.

Why it’s important to get it right the first time… aka:  don’t wimp out half way through:
There are a number of problems that can occur if a kid is not disbudded properly:
-If you don’t do it right the first time, you will have to do it again.  Eff that.
-Horns contain blood vessels and are a part of the goat’s skull.  Once they are established, they should not be removed.  Think of it as someone ripping off one of your fingernails, except it’s a huge nail and it’s growing out of your head.  Ouch.
-If not disbudded properly, scurs can develop.  A scur is part of the horn that continues to grow after disbudding.  Scurs are bad.

Horniness is a genetic trait!
Some goats are born without horns and will never develop horns.  You can tell if a kid is hornless, or “polled,” within days of birth because you’ll feel bony plates on the top of its head instead of little buds.

Does anyone have any comments or questions?

Next Thursday: Illustrated disbudding demo.