Thursday, April 24, 2008


Disbudding is the goat keeper's least favorite thing to do. But in fairness to the goats that we raise and to increase their value to both us and the people that may end up with them someday, they need to have their horns removed. It is a nasty job but someone has to do it.

Horns are dangerous for several reasons, but my main reason is that I want my goats to be safe around my grandchildren. Horns can also get easily caught in fences and goats do love to stick their heads into some strange places and at times I don't know how they will get their heads free even without horns.

So, my little Onyx and Jasper were dehorned on Tuesday morning. This process is called disbudding because it is the burning of the horn buds. They should be done as soon as the buds are clearly visible, this is at about two days old for bucklings and a week old for doelings.

The time got away from us because of all the things we had going on. We were way late in getting this done this year. They were two and a half weeks old which is nearly too late to do this successfully for a buckling.

The process consists of taking a very hot tube shaped iron and placing the horn nub right inside the tube and burning a circle around the horn base to destroy the horn root. We use the Rhinehart X-30 Dehorner that we bought online at Jeffers Livestock Supply.

We first place the kid in a box especially designed for this propose to shave all of the hair away from the horn area. Then when the iron is glowing red, I hold the kid's head still, while my husband applies the hot iron to the bud. He applies pressure in a circular pattern, clockwise, around the horn base while I count off 10 seconds.

When the iron is removed, I blow on the area to quickly cool it off. We then inspect the area to see if we have a perfect copper colored ring around the entire bud and to give the iron a chance to reheat before going to the next horn. If it isn't an even ring, we will come back later to even the ring out. When both sides are done we then burn or nudge the top of each horn bud with the hot iron.

This is a very stressful thing for the kids to go through, but they always return to play as soon as the are released from the box. So I am not sure that it is extremely painful for them. Goats have pretty hard and thick skulls. Usually they cry just as much about the shaving experience as they do for the burning but this year the babies didn't seem to mind being shaved. I think that the whole thing is harder on us than it is on them.

Shaving the Kid's head
Jasper in the Box

Horn area being Shaved

Shaving Onyx

Copper Rings

All Done!

Goat Kids at play
Back to Playtime.

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