Disbudding Goats for Rednecks Like Me

Horns on goats can cause problems. For me, the greatest concern is animal welfare – in other words, a goat sticking its head through a fence and getting stuck because the horns act as a one-way barb. Two or three days in the hot summer sun can lead to death.

In nature there are no fences so horns do not pose this risk. But in farming there are heaps of fences so we need to design our animal systems with that in mind. We take animal welfare very seriously, so I’ve learned to disbud young kids to prevent horn growth.

I watched some youtube videos and looked at this site.

The first time we tried it my helper who was holding the kid flinched at the wrong moment and we ended up with a unicorn.

So I have added another element to my redneck operation in order to hold the head and neck steady during the process.

This heavy vice works perfectly with a towel draped over it for cushioning. It worked as planned for two kids this morning – they were held in place by my helper who did not flinch at all. (Note: Do not tighten the vice!!!)

My disbudding tool is a pipe of the right size with an improvised but sturdy handle. (Note: Sorry, no duct tape on hand at the time.)

The disbudder has to be hot enough to burn a circle in a piece of wood. I use my camping stove to heat it.

I also use my clippers to shave the area around the buds so I can see everything and because I’m not fond of the smell of burning hair. (I also trimmed my beard at the time as long as I had the clippers out of the cupboard.)

Apply heat for 10 seconds before horns break through the buds – usually between three and ten days after birth. The kids exhibit no signs of post-traumatic stress as they are returned to mum for a quick drink of milk and then frolicking with their mates in the paddock.  

Rednecks rule!

Peace, Estwing

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