When to Disbud Goat Kids

In goat kids, horns should be disbudded AS SOON AS the horn bud can be distinctly palpated. This usually occurs around 5-7 days old. However, buck kids can have larger buds than does at the same age, which means they may need to be disbudded as early as 3-5 days. There is also some variation depending on the breed. For example, Alpine Swiss kids may take only a few days, while Nubian kids can take as long as 2 weeks to develop palpable buds.  Early disbudding is performed with a hot iron and sedation, which is less stressful and more humane than waiting to perform surgical removal of scurs or horns at an older age. The key to successful disbudding is to cauterize the corium from which the horn grows, which can only be achieved when a palpable bud breaks through without becoming too large.

Technique is very important to avoid heat meningitis, brain abscesses, sinus infection, and unnecessary stress. Complications associated with the removal of large horns include hemorrhage, re-growth, sinus infection, pain, and difficulties associated with physical or chemical restraint. Dehorn paste should be avoided as it can be damaging to eyes and skin. Furthermore, it may lead to contact with other animals that could have negative consequences. Disbudding is not a necessary procedure and some producers prefer to keep horns on their animals. Owners of dairy goats may prefer removal of horns to prevent injury to goats and handlers when utilizing milking stands. Pet goats may also benefit from horn removal. Regardless, it is a procedure that is best performed early.

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