To disbud baby goats, or not disbud that is the question many first-time goat owners have to ask themselves in the spring. So let’s dive into the ends and outs of when to disbud a baby goat and how to do it.
What Is Disbudding A Baby Goat?
Disbudding a baby goat is the process of removing the horns when they are mere buds erupting from the young kid’s skull. Disbudding a goat means that your goat will not have horns.
Why Would You Want To Disbud A Baby Goat?
Many people choose to disbud their goats for a few reasons such as:
- A goat without horns is easier to handle.
- Without horns it’s harder for your goats to get stuck in the fence.
- Goats can seriously injure one another with their horns.
- Some goats will wait until you aren’t looking and use their horns on you.
That being said while there are many very good reasons to disbud baby goats, goats do have horns for a reason, horns help goats to cool down in hot weather, provide protection, and allow them to scratch itchy spots.
Pros And Cons Of Disbudding A Baby Goat
When you are deciding if you want to disbud baby goats it’s important to honestly answer a couple of questions.
- Do you like how goats look with/without horns?
- Are your goats temperaments compatible with having horns?
- Do your goats live in an environment where having horns will be more useful than not having them?
Choosing to disbud your goats isn’t for everyone, and choosing horns isn’t for everyone. It tends to be a hot-button subject amongst goat owners but it’s important to choose what is best for you and your animals.
Is Disbudding A Baby Goat Cruel?
Some people will say that to disbud a baby goat is cruel because it can be painful for them, but the reasons for disbudding your goats is to keep them from getting stuck in the fence and slowly dying from dehydration if not found right away, hurting you while you are handling them or hurting one another by headbutting one another.
Does Disbudding A Baby Goat Hurt?
When you disbud baby goats using an anesthetic to numb the spot before performing the procedure helps them to not feel the iron when it’s placed over the bud of the horn. A pain reliever can be given afterward but most people say that it isn’t necessary.
How Soon Can You Disbud A Baby Goat?
You can disbud baby goats very young, it’s best to feel for the bud under the skin at birth and judge from there. You can disbud baby goats at anywhere from 4 days old to 10 days old. It will depend on your breed of goat exactly when you can disbud them. Males tend to grow their horns faster and will need to be disbudded sooner, while females can wait a bit longer. For both males and females aim for the 4-10 day window for disbudding.
Can You Disbud A Baby Goat At 8 Weeks?
It will depend on the breed, and how much of the horn has come in if you can disbud baby goats at 8 weeks. If a lot has come in you may need to dehorn your goat instead of disbudding them.
Supplies You Will Need To Disbud A Baby Goat
- A goat disbudding iron
- A goat disbudding box
- Heavy duty gloves
- A very sharp knife
- A helper
- Hair clippers
How To Disbud A Baby Goat
Disbudding isn’t a chore most people like, but for many, it’s really necessary. If you don’t feel confident enough to do it yourself or don’t think you could do it but feel it needs to be done try hiring a local farmer to do it for you.
How To Disbud Baby Goats Step 1)
Using the hair clippers, trim the hair around the little buds on the head of the goat. Meanwhile, plug in the dehorning iron & preheat for about 10 minutes.
How To Disbud Baby Goats Step 2)
Next place the baby goat in the disbudding holding box, this is really important to ensure you don’t accidentally burn other places on the baby goat or yourself/helper. Baby goats are stronger than you think You can make your own disbudding holding box.
How To Disbud Baby Goats Step 3)
Ensure that your helper is holding the goat properly, the baby goat’s head should be through the u-shaped slot, the board should be on top with the helper sitting, and the baby goat’s head should be pulled out with the helper holding the head firmly with the ears folded back.
How To Disbud Baby Goats Step 4)
Check the iron on a piece of wood before you begin, if it burns a nice ring within two seconds it’s ready to use to disbud a baby goat.
How To Disbud Baby Goats Step 5)
Place the hot iron down around the bud of the goat. The open circle goes around the tip of the goat’s bud. Let the weight of the iron be your pressure. You will slowly rotate the pressure around in a clock-wise manner, for 3-4 seconds. For males, burn for 5 seconds. The helper can blow on the smoke while you operate the iron so you can see what you are doing.
You want a nice copper ring around the base of the goat’s bud. You may not get this the first time if you don’t go ahead and let it cool and do the same to the other side. (The helper can blow on the burned bud while you do the other one).
How To Disbud Baby Goats Step 6)
Use your knife and cut off the bud, but be sure to get low enough to the base of the bud. You’ll be surprised at how easy this bud comes off. The base of the bud may or may not bleed. Don’t panic if it does bleed. Your next step will take care of that.
How To Disbud Baby Goats Step 7)
Use the side of the iron to burn the base of the bud, move the iron around to get a good burn on the top. Take your time and focus on getting a good seal on the top of the now-removed bud. Repeat on the other side.
How To Disbud Baby Goats Step 8)
Before you are done you need to go around one more time on the base of each ring for an additional 3 seconds.
How To Disbud Baby Goats Step 9)
Take your time checking the burned buds and make sure you didn’t miss any spots. If all looks good, let the baby back with its mother or bottle feed to comfort him/her right away. While they bleat and cry during the procedure, they act fine the rest of the day.
Because male goats have more growth hormones in their bodies, you’ll need to burn an extra ring overlapping the original ring. Just behind the original ring, burn another 3-4 seconds. This should help prevent scurs (partial abnormal horns) from growing as well as reduce the scent.
Goat Disbudding Healing
You may notice some oozing & maybe a few drops of blood, but don’t worry about it. If it does start bleeding a lot, you can cauterize it again. After 2 weeks or so, the hair will grow back and you’ll never see any horns.
Don’t put anything on the burns for at least the first day. After that, you can put a salve on it.
When Is It Too Late To Disbud A Baby Goat?
Timing is really important when it comes to when to disbud a baby goat. By the time the horn is 1inch long or longer, it is probably too late to disbud. Animals disbudded at 1 month of age or older (especially males) will be more likely to have scars.
Learn more about caring for baby goats!