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Disbudding 101

by | Apr 25, 2019 | Goats

Kidding season is here and along with that comes many new kids, or baby goats.  Goat owners everywhere will be making sure their new kids will be receiving the best care possible in order to guarantee their best chances for survival.  Along with providing these kids proper nutrition to grow strong and healthy, many owners will also be disbudding these kids for their own protection as well as to protect their owners/handlers.

Disbudding a kid is the process of removing their “buds” or tiny “horns”.  This is done by briefly holding a specialized hot iron tool around the horn buds to burn through their skin and horn bud which stops the blood supply to the horn buds.  The lack of blood supply causes the horn to eventually fall off and then never grow back.  Little Lost Creations has some great tips for making this task quick and easy.

Chemical pastes and hot irons are common disbudding practices, but the hot iron is the overall preferred method by most goat owners as it is quicker and more effective.

Kids are usually disbudded before they are a month old because their horn buds grow rapidly.  Some disbud their kids when they are 4 to 10 days old.  Disbudding your goat when they are a kid is a lot easier than when they are mature as chemical pastes and hot irons will no longer work to kill the horn root and will only cause your goat pain and suffering.

It is very important that the disbudding procedure be done by either a veterinarian or someone experienced in disbudding.  If it is done incorrectly by not killing the horn root completely, the kid’s horns could partially grow back.  These deformed horns are called scurs and can curl back and grow into the goat’s skull causing pain and discomfort to the animal.  Scurs, being weaker than a healthy horn, will tend to break easier which then causes bleeding and severe pain to the goat.  Goat Savvy is another great resource for some additional information on the proper way to disbud your goat with a hot iron and about scurs if disbudding is done incorrectly.

Most goat owners disbud their kids instead of dehorning mature goats.   A mature goat’s horns cannot just be cut off as goat’s horns are made of hair, blood vessels, and nerves.  If you have mature goats with horns that need a little trimming, you can safely use the Hoff Boss trimming tool with the Green V Disc or Black Cutoff Disc to safely trim ½” to 1”.  We recommend viewing the instructional video for these trimming discs before trimming your goat’s horns.  Cutting more than ½” to 1” off of a goat’s fully developed horn is not recommended as it can result in a lot of bleeding and pain for the animal.

Kidding season is here and that means lots and lots of new baby kid goats.  Those kids will then be developing their horns soon.  Now is the time, when they are young, to disbud them for their safety and yours.  A safe kid is a happy kid and a safe owner.

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