This week we had to disbud the baby goats. I’ve been dreading this process since, well… I found out that it would be necessary. I asked the previous owners if the babies would be polled, which means born without horns, but they do not carry those genes. So the only other option was to disbud.
There are a couple reasons for this in case you are thinking that there’s actually another option, to let the horns grow.
1) The breed standard for registered Nigerian Dwarfs is no horns.
We don’t plan to show these girls, they are here specifically to increase our home dairy production, so it wouldn’t be absolutely necessary to register them or disbud them. Except that we want them registered so that their babies are able to be sold at a good price. Also…
2) Horned goats are dangerous. Not like they would attack you if they have horns but things do happen. What if they toss their head back while you’re trying to pick them up to load in a truck and they gouge an eye? Or what if they get those horns caught in a fence? Easy pickins for predator, or even getting a neck broken if butted by another goat while stuck! Not to mention how uneven it would be in the herd rankings for horned goats to beat up on goats with no horns.
So goats with horns were not an option for us. That means disbudding. 🙁 We ended up doing the girls on different days because Ginny’s buds weren’t as obvious as Hermione’s. A friend who has experience with cattle came over to help us. He admits that he isn’t experienced with goats, but we were just happy to have someone there to help the first time!
Hermione did fantastic, and we got the copper ring, and back to her mama she did go. I was concerned for her because it seemed to take a bit of time and pressure to get hers to where they needed to be. But she bounced back like nothing happened at all. Here she is climbing on my lap the very same day. Poor little burned bud!
They forgive in a hurry though, and from everything I’ve read it’s much more traumatic to have to have horns removed later, so I’m happy we could get it done earlier. She’s still super cute, even with the bad haircut I gave her and the little burns.
When it was Ginny’s turn we learned something valuable right away. A hot iron, I mean a REALLY hot iron, makes a world of difference. I plugged the iron in for some time before we brought Ginny down, and the time it took to burn her buds to the copper ring was WAY less than what we’d had to do with Hermione! Wow! Good thing to remember next time.
Happy, and nibbling on hay. They both are doing fine!
We won’t know “for sure” if we’ve done a good job of it for several weeks. If any bits of horn (called scurs) start to grow we may have to do the process over, and I’m really hoping that isn’t the case. But this was our first time, so we’re going to learn as much as we can and make each subsequent time better and better!