Kid Disbudding Box

Disbudding is probably the least favorite ‘chore’ of raising dairy goats! In fact, most people are surprised to learn that most goat kids (except the few that are naturally polled, that is ‘hornless‘) start growing horns a few days after they’re born. Both bucks (males) and does (females) have horns. Most people don’t want their goats to have horns (4H goat projects typically do not ‘allow’ horns, so check with your 4H Club first). Horns are safely removed when the kids are babies — from a few days to a week or two, depending on the breed and the rate of growth of the ‘horn bud’ — using a process called “disbudding” (see “Disbudding Goats” for more on this).

This year, The Hubs, [finally] made me a ‘kid disbudding box’ which is an invaluable tool for disbudding and tattooing baby goats [especially if there’s only one person doing the job]. My NEW disbudding box features a Hoegger designed head piece which provides you full control and a broad base for safely supporting your hand and securing the kid’s head during disbudding.

Kid Box


Rather than The Hubs latching onto the kids with his ‘death grip & stranglehold’ — which is probably more frightening to the kids than the actual act of disbudding…gasp! — we used a disbudding box.  The “disbudding box” is  essential for keeping the kids relatively still and CALM during the process! Here’s an easy to build plan from ‘Better Hens and Gardens’ for one (the picture below shows the finished box with their goat, Ruby, inside serving as a model).

Disbudding Box_Ruby

You can build your own with their ‘free’ kid disbudding box plans!

Build Your Own Plans

After all, we want happy goats!!!

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

A nice warm bottle and all is forgiven!