A ‘First’ for Disbudding My Goats!

There’s a first time for everything…including disbudding your baby/kid goats. Most dairy goat keepers will tell you that there’s no place for horns in a dairy herd. Both female and male goats have horns (unless you have a genetically ‘polled’ /hornless goat).  Horns can be beautiful, but they can also be dangerous. Whether you agree or not, it’s your decision to de-horn a goat. HINT: 4-H/goat clubs may allow only disbudded goats at shows/events.

Disbudding (removing the horn buds) is probably the least favorite part of goat keeping. Disbudding should be performed at the right age/time to minimize scurs from developing (partial horn growth). Generally, every goat breed may have a little different horn growth, but when you feel a good “nub”, the goat kids are ready to get disbudded –  usually within the first week ( 7 days ) of life!

I’ve been fortunate to have ‘friends’ disbud my kid goats for my past two freshenings, but, due to circumstances, this Spring I’m faced with disbudding my goat kids. Thank goodness for friends and fellow goaties to provide me with hand-holding and oversight – for the safety of my kids and my confidence – especially as a first-timer!

The following pics may be a bit graphic. Proper disbudding equipment is a MUST!

My bucklings are 6-days old. First, give a nice shave around the horn buds to remove hair and expose the horn buds. I also gave my kids a tetanus antitoxin injection ( a preventative measure ).


Next, plug in the disbudding iron and ‘restrain’ kid. This is easily accomplished in a goat kid box, but a STRONG ‘friend’ may also restrain/hold the kid.

Position the heated iron around the horn bud and apply slight pressure as you rotate the iron for several seconds…until a ‘copper’ ring is visible. (Bucklings often get a second burn in a ‘figure-eight’ pattern.)

First one horn bud, then the other.

All done…the blue stuff is Blue Kote wound dressing/healing aid. How about a nice yummy bottle for such a good boy! One more kid to go before we’re done for today. Aside from all the numerous goat workshops my daughter and I have attended on disbudding procedures, you’ll find more goat disbudding HOW-TO info at http://fiascofarm.com/goats/disbudding.htm

A nice warm bottle and all is forgiven!

5 thoughts on “A ‘First’ for Disbudding My Goats!

    • Well, you definitely require ‘nerve’ to get past all the emotion, but it’s all for the best. I’ve attended many goatie workshops to learn the procedure and observed long-time goatkeepers perform the daunting task! My ‘boys’ are jumping all over me, so I guess I’m forgiven…yeah!

  1. My goat sellers didn’t disbud until our kids were older, maybe almost three weeks. How/when will I know if the iron process worked? All three kids have little bumps on top of their heads; they may still be growing…any advice?

    • It’s been almost 4 years since we added dairy goats to our farm. Every freshening, all my kids have been disbudded for me by the buck’s owner – as I over-looked the process. My Alpines/Oberhaslis are all disbudded within a few days of kidding – as soon as you feel a horn bud! BTW, some goats are naturally polled. The bucklings horn buds in particular grow speedy quick! It may be different for other breeds (e.g. Nigerians), but you need to disbud early…and when it heals/the ‘scab’ falls off, there literally is no ‘bumps’ on their head. There’s a bald spot and scar, which is basically undetectable once the surrounding hair grows back. If you see/feel bumps, the process should probably be repeated (before too much horn re-growth) to minimize scurring. BUT, your goat seller probably knows best whether he needs to repeat the disbudding. Good luck!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s