Disbudding Goats: How To

Kidding season is happening all over.

One of the things we hear questions about most is disbudding goat kids. 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 will never 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. So there are two does and one buck here we have worked around because of the horns.

For many, simple aesthetics are a reason to remove them, and while I do not like the look, I'd not disbud for beauty alone.

We have had many bruises and caught heads all over the place, injured kids, a lot of pain in the rear moments on the milk stand, during hoof trimming, injections, etc. Within the herd, those with horns use them ruthlessly to their advantage, as well.

Yet even just those things aren't the only reasons we disbud kids, your buyer base is much smaller for horned dairy goats, and with horns being generally undesirable, those kids sold are much more likely to end up sold to unsavory homes or end up at auction.

So for show, milking, peace in your herd, sales, their safety and my safety, 6 years of dairy goats has shown me, FOR US PERSONALLY and most dairy goat people I know, we prefer disbudded goats and always (ALWAYS) disbud goat kids.

Do not confuse disbudding with dehorning!

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.

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, even if you have to drive. Make sure you see their goats have nice disbudding jobs before you let them do your goat kids.

Most vets do a poor job. Stick with an experienced breeder.

Watch exactly what they do -

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.

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 teh X50, you get the goat tip added. YOU CANNOT use the calf size one.

There are countless youtube videos to refer to.

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. They never act
like they have missed a beat.

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.


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 and always will and how to MAKE sure you do it correctly, if you plan to :)