Disbudding.

We took Rain and Flame to get disbudded last week. 

Disbudded means that their little tiny horn buds get burned off so they won’t ever grow into big horns.  Yikes!  Why would a person ever want to do that????  My thoughts exactly.  But, I learned, it’s because you want to keep yourself safe and your animals safe.

Goats with horns can cause a lot more injury than goats without horns, and in captivity, it’s safest to have goats without horns.  So, we took ours to be disbudded.

Marilan did it.

We packed them into our multiple use recycling box.  Recycles stuff every Thursday, transports and houses baby goats any other day.

They rode out to Marilan’s farm comfortably asleep on their bed of straw in the back seat of the truck.

At Marilan’s, the first step was to shave the hair off from above and around their horn buds. 

This is not a miniature implement of war, but a disbudding iron.  That round thing in the front and the ring behind it heat up.  Really hot.

Here’s a side view.  You can tell this one has been used a few times.  The hot parts have to be held on the horn bud and surrounding area for 10 seconds.

After Rain’s head was shaved, we put her in the Torture Box.  I’m sure it has a name, but I don’t know it.  It has a little metal trough looking thing for her neck and a lid so she can’t wiggle out and so Marilan has somewhere to sit.  Inside the box, which is about 5 inches wide (just wide enough to fit the tiny hips and shoulders of a week or two old kid), there is a build up area in the middle that the kid’s stomach rests on.  That’s so the kid doesn’t try to squat down in the box to get away from the heat. 

Here’s her head before.

Turn this off now if you don’t want to see her head after.  It’s tad bit more gory than when you got your ears pierced.  If you didn’t get your ears pierced, you will have absolutely no point of reference.  Unless you’ve gotten a tattoo.  Getting tattooed may hurt as much as disbudding.  Getting your ears pierced can’t hold a candle to getting a tattoo, and probably getting a tattoo can’t hold a candle to getting disbudded, but I’ve never been disbudded. 

Yikes.  This is the result of Marilan’s handy work with the disbudding iron.  Just for the record:  I don’t want that job. 

Let me also explain the smells and sounds.  I don’t need to explain more about the sight.  A picture speaks a thousand words.

Smells:  Burning hair and fingernails.  A lot.

Sounds:  10 seconds straight of screaming and shrieking from the goat kid. 

Then, it’s over.  Neither of them made any painful sounds after the 10 seconds in the torture box.  It looks horrible for the rest of the day, but heals over to a scab by the next day.  I wouldn’t touch it, because it seems like that would certainly hurt, but it doesn’t seem to be something that traumatized them for life.

It’s the worst part I’ve encountered so far in raising goats, but I’ve come to understand and believe that it is something that needs to be done for the good of the farm.

For The Greater Good.

And, mostly because when I’m wrestling a new mom into nursing her kids or getting a new mom up onto the milking stand, I would prefer not to be gored.

- The Goat Cheese Lady

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About The Goat Cheese Lady

I am Lindsey. I am an urban farmgirl attempting to balance city and farm life. I make cheese. I milk goats. I am married to the Animal Whisperer, man of exceptional knowledge and patience, I have two boys who are louder than my sister and I ever were, two big dogs, a few milking goats, some egg laying chickens and rabbits. Coyotes, rattlesnakes, deer, bear, and bobcats are frequent visitors. Just around the corner is the city. The pool. Yoga. The neighborhood friends. But we...and our farm...are hidden...by the rocks.
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3 Responses to Disbudding.

  1. Pingback: Another Thing About Disbudding | The Goat Cheese Lady

  2. Melina says:

    My least favorite part of goatkeeping. I always paid someone else to do it for me and I’m glad I did. I did try it once myself, nearly lost my breakfast, left scurs because I didn’t leave the iron on long enough, and swore nevermore!

  3. Hey, farming at it’s less glamorous, but at least I did find the after ointment with pain killers in it for their burns (new technology in 8 years). And it does seem to me some of the kids scream just as loud a protest even when not being hurt. Mostly from being held still. A sign of submission and they hate that. In all, it is better than horns. There are other methods and they are far more dangerous and painful I think. (corrosive jell near their eyes or ears or banding and having horns half fall off or slough off.)

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