When to disbud?

blessedfarmgirl

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Ok, so I called my vet to schedule a disbudding after reading some articles about it (I'm NOT ready to do it myself) and he said he doesn't do disbuddings until 3 weeks of age. I was surprised because all the articles I read said 3-14 days was the usual time window, and my bucklings' horns are already growing. Should I listen to the vet, or try to find someone else? I'm just worried that their horns will be too big by 3 weeks and it will end up being harder on them/they might get scurs. I have had good experience with him before, just not with disbudding.
 

blessedfarmgirl

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Yeah, same with my doelings. I think I'm going to keep the appt. with my vet and take the doelings then, because they are a week old and I can't feel the hornbuds at all, so I think they will be fine to wait until three weeks, especially the runt. I called a different vet and got an appt. for Monday for the bucklings. I'm glad I went with my instincts and research instead of just blindly trusting my vet. I'll probably go to someone else next time.
 

Ridgetop

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We always disbudded ourselves. An older man taught me how to do it. My son learned to do it from me at 12 years old. We always practiced on the bucklings first. By the end of kidding season we did not need to practice anymore. LOL He did all the goat kids for our 4-H club. We never got scurs. The trick is to make sure to get all the horn with the iron. Our iron is a very old one. I sent it to be repaired to the manufacturer and they wanted to keep it for their museum and replace it with a new one! They said that the newer ones did not get as hot because of some new regulation. I had them repair it and send it back since we like it. I also used it once to seal a wound. One of the kids knocked off its horn bud scab off and I couldn't stop the bleeding with Blood Stop or flour. I plugged in the iron and used it to cauterize the wound. It healed fine.

If you are going to raise goats, you should learn how to disbud. Vet disbudding is expensive. Find someone who is experienced to teach you. The worst part is the smell of the burning hair. It is fast and the kids immediately recover from the experience.

You are smart to disbud your kids. Disbudding is something that people have conflicted views on. I won't keep an animal with horns because having raised small children with dairy goats the horns are at eye level. The one time I got injured by a goat horn was a Pygmy goat I was feeding for friends on vacation. It tossed its head and hooked me in the thigh. Goats with horns can get caught in feeders, fences, and are more prone to fight and use their horns in destructive ways. If you have dairy goats, a got without horns is easier to put in and out of the milk stanchion. We also raised Boer goats and while the purchased stock had horns, I disbudded my breeding does. I will admit that the horns made good handles. LOL
 

Baymule

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I wish I had someone to teach me! I watched sooo many youtube videos, but in the end I still didn't feel like doing it without hands-on guidance. I want to do it, but I don't want to fail and hurt the babies or be left with scurs.
That’s why @Ridgetop did the bucklings first. Take your mistakes to auction.
 

Ridgetop

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While I agree that the idea of hurting those sweet babies is difficult. Some things have to be done for their welfare. Harden your nerves like you did when your kids needed vaccinations. The first time that nurse stuck my infant with a needle I wanted to deck her, instead of holding him steady. But the danger of the diseases he was being protected from made me steel myself. I hated that just like I hated taking the kids for stitches, putting antibiotics on their cuts and scrapes, and pulling splinters. But those things had to be done.

That is the way I feel about disbudding, also banding wethers, giving vaccinations, antibiotics, and pulling kids and lambs. It is painful for just a few minutes, but the pain is over soon, and the benefits outweigh that temporary unpleasantness. A lot of livestock keeping is unpleasant, not to say downright nasty, but the flip side is watching healthy animals in the pasture, live kids/lambs, and being confident in your ability to care for the animals in your charge whether you can get to a vet or not. Disbudding goats is important to me because I have seen a lot of problems resulting from horns on goats. Many people that don't want to disbud say their animals are too sweet to worry about but goats can inflict injuries without meaning to through a toss of their head. If you want to show goats in youth fairs or shows, the goats MUST be disbudded. Boer goats in youth meat auctions must also be disbudded or dehorned. In open breeding shows, Boers are shown with horns. In open and youth breeding shows dairy goats must be disbudded.

When we started in livestock 35 years ago, vets did not disbud goats. They rarely dehorned either. If you lived in a large cattle area you could find a vet who would do cattle although most people did it themselves either with paste or a cattle iron. Part of livestock keeping is medical care, and proper identification. With dairy goats and rabbits that is tattooing, sheep and meat goats get tags punched into their ears, hogs get ear notches cut in and tags. Horses and cattle get brands. Part of this is to identify the ownership, the other part is for the owner to keep track of breeding and bloodlines. Our horses are microchipped since we live in a fire area and in case of evacuation, we need to be able to identify our own animals to reclaim them. Our neighborhood did a big microchip push after the last fire resulted in people not finding their horses.

When you disbud at home, you will not have access to pain killers the vet uses to deaden the skin. However, the main reason the kids scream when disbudding is not because they are in pain, it is because after the first touch of the hot iron, you are confining their bodies un a disbudding box, and holding their heads motionless. Being confined is why they scream. Once released from the disbudding box and offered a bottle they immediately are happy again. The part that is hardest to get over is the smell of the burning hair. You can avoid a lot of this by shaving the top of the kid's head before disbudding. This also helps you to pinpoint where to place the iron over the horn bud. (Some people have told me that putting a dab of Vicks or Mentholatum under their nose helps with the smell. I always forgot to try that until later. LOL)

Whether you go with a vet or try to do it yourself, disbudding is a good health and safety choice. Good luck.
 
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