Disbudding Goats: How To

One of the things we hear questions about most concerning goats is disbudding.

Many people aren't sure how, when or why.

Here on the farm, we have primarily disbudded dairy goats.

In order to show in ADGA, AGS or 4H/Fair shows, your dairy goats must be disbudded.

I personally do not prefer horned dairy goats, but a few were purchased by us in the years past with horns, and the removal process on adult goats isn't humane in my view.

We have had many bruises, caught heads, injured kids, a lot of pain in the rear moments on the milk stand, during hoof trimming, injections, etc. within the herd by those with horns. In our large herd, those with horns use them ruthlessly to their advantage, as well. I've had injured udders, side injuries and the like various times.

Generally, your buyer base is much smaller for horned dairy goats, and with horns being generally undesirable to most people, those kids sold are more likely to end up sold to unsavory homes or end up at auction. Think about the goats you see online for cheap and often in poor condition or being given away: Horned, usually.

So for show, milking, peace in your herd, sales, sometimes for both their and my safety, almost a decade in dairy goats has shown me, I prefer disbudded goats, always will and will always (ALWAYS) disbud goat kids, unless we are talking meat kids who will processed in the fall.

Do not confuse disbudding with dehorning! Disbudding is done before a horn grows. It is super quick. Dehorning in a brutal process done on a horn grown in.

Disbudding varies breed to breed.

Swiss breeds like Saanens and Alpines need disbudded sooner, between 3-7 days. The bucks need double rings to prevent very bad scurs or full horns / scurs on a ridge they have that only Swiss breeds grow.

Nubians can usually wait until 7-14 days. The Nubian bucks do not need the double ring to achieve good results.

Nigerians are more like Nubians, as are Lamanchas.

I NEVER recommend a beginner disbud. Find an experience goat breeder to do this your first year, as even most vets do a poor job, sometimes even killing the kids. Make sure you see their goats have nice disbudding jobs before you let them do your goat kids. I have never cause an death or illness or long term issue from disbudding. I've done hundreds.


Watch exactly what they do for a few years.

You will see them shave the head around the buds first, and the iron will be tested first and used somewhere between (varies with sex and breed) 10 and 15 seconds of steady rocking around the bud. After, they will pop the cap of the horn bud off. It will be applied a second time to swiss bucks to the ridge you will see and feel in the inside of the buds coming out toward the center of the head. You will never use the iron as long on does as bucks.

DO NOT freak out and pull the iron off too soon! This leaves a mess - it will not yet be cauterized and you will end up with horns or large scurs.

WAIT for the iron to fully re-heat between each side you do and each kid you do. Do not get in a rush.

Many bucks will have small scurs no matter what, but you do not want large scurs on bucks or ANY scurs on does.

I have used the X30 iron for many years. I use a wire brush to clean it between each use. I have the X50 now.

DO NOT get confused and buy the one with the pymgy tip. It isn't useful. USE the X30 with the goat tip or make sure if you get the X50, you get the goat tip added. YOU CANNOT use the calf size one. You will kill your kids. I'VE KNOWN VET TO DO THIS.

There are countless youtube videos to refer to, and please do so.

As soon as it is over, the kids hop up here and get a bottle and go on about their business. I personally give a small IM shot of banamine after, but they really are fine without it. I have worked with such knowledgeable breeders, I have also sedated, and this is risky business with goats. I've not had an issue, but I dont recommend most people try it, and usually, you will not be able to get the sedative from a vet. Without sedation, they never act
like they have missed a beat. If they do, something is wrong. Get treatment right away.

Some folks use a disbudding box, but ours scream more over being the box than anything. I have my husband hold them on his lap firmly. This works best for us.

http://www.caprinesupply.com/products/kid-raising/disbudding/rhinehart-x30-disbudding-iron.html

NOTE: This isn't a debate thread. This is FOR THOSE WHO know or think they wish to disbud goat kids. I have heard all of the stories about how folks love their dairy goats with horns. I'm glad you like them. This is not about hearing the pros and cons. This is a simple Why we do it, always will and how to MAKE sure you do it, it is done correctly, if you plan to :)