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Thursday, May 09 2013

There are certain unpleasantries of ranching that we must all endure if we are to be responsible for our livestock - castration and disbudding come to mind.  Castration is must-do chore if we plan on keeping any males for any length of time. The only question is how we want to do it. Most of the time we opt for banding, but we have had Dear Friend Cathy's husband (the vet) do a surgical castration when we've waited a bit long for banding.

In the past, I haven't disbudded my baby goats, but then I was raising meat goats and other than the annoying "getting their heads caught in the fencing" the horns have never been a problem. In fact, they make nice handles. But then I entered the world of dairy goats. I bought some does without horns and I bought some does with horns. Guess what? Getting accidentally hooked by friendly goats isn't fun. Getting hooked in the face is even less fun.  So I sold the horned goats and kept the ones without horns for milking. And I acquired a polled buck in hopes of breeding babies that didn't have horns.

And guess what? Thus far we have a 50% success rate.

The little girl doesn't have horns.

The little boy does.

Enter the concept of disbudding.  That's a white-washed-prettified term for branding the horn bud with a red hot iron to kill it before it develops. Yes, it sounds medieval, but then again so much of what we do with livestock for their own good can sound medieval. 

The cold hard reality of life as a boy goat is that most of them end up either eaten or shuffled into isolation. This little guy's best bet for a good life is to turn him into a friendly pet. The best way to do that is to castrate and dis-bud him, and cuddle him and feed him raisins and put a cute little collar on him. Goats are eaten. Cute little goats that act like dogs have a better chance of becoming pets on farms. 

So Saturday I packed up the babies and took them to The Goat Lady. She has done this procedure countless times and I trust her more than I trust myself. There is an art to this. If you don't leave the iron on long enough you can get nasty scurs - ugly horn growth thingees. If you leave the iron on too long, you fry your baby's brain. That's enough for me to take lots of lessons before I do this for real.

The procedure was pretty quick. The Goat Lady picked him up, gave him a CDT shot and then she shaved his little horn buds so she could see what she was doing. Then she put him down to play with his sister while the iron heated up. Then she scooped him up again, held him down against her thigh and applied the iron for a count of 15 seconds for each bud. He was not happy. Then she sprayed him with purple medicine and set him down.

He bounced off, shook himself, and announced that he had been assaulted. . . "But no hard feelings."

And then he came home and played with the rest of the flock. The little guy didn't skip a beat.

He played and played and then he and his sister went back in lock-up where their Nanny-Dog reassured them that they were not alone in this cruel world where people kidnap and assault baby goats.  


Posted by: forensicfarmgirl AT 11:14 am   |  Permalink   |  2 Comments  |  Email
My first 3 goaties were horned and I liked them. But the Boys.....Fergus was polled, Felix was disbudded...and I admit, it's nice to not have to worry about rescuing them from the fence or getting my shorts hooked. They make better goatie citizens.....LOL....
Posted by Diane I. on 05/10/2013 - 12:54 PM
I never considered horns a big deal until I had gots without horns. It is SO MUCH easier! Plus, friendly goats with horns hook you all the time by accident. I wanted to give this little guy his best chance at becoming a pet goat.
Posted by forensicfarmgirl on 05/13/2013 - 12:00 AM

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