**** WARNING: Not sure what to say here, but you’ve been warned! ****
It is common knowledge that goats naturally have horns. However, in the modern farm setting, horns tend to cause more problems than they solve and so it is now the norm to remove them. Removing full grown horns from an adult goat would be a horrific experience for everyone involved, thus the practice of disbudding.
Disbudding is the removal of the horn bud from the skull of a baby goat. We thought it was supposed to be done at a few weeks old back when we were total noobs with regards to all things carpine. Nope, that’s why you get scurs (partial horns that grow and can curl back into the goats skull, killing them). Our wether, Dwalin, has scurs because we had him disbudded way to late. He has knocked them off once, but as he is destined for the freezer, we aren’t too worried about removing them again. Well, we know better now and since we are going to be having a lot of kids in our future farming experience we figured it was time to learn to do it our selves.
A brief run down of the process: you shave the kids forehead, hold a burning iron (think circular branding iron) around the bud, let it burn down to the skull, release baby. We are not the first people to do this so we turned to the internet to learn how to best do it from the experts.
If bow ties are cool, then power tools are sexy.
The best way to hold the baby goat still so that no one gets hurt when you are using the disbudding iron, which has a tip with a temperature of 3 bazillion degrees, is to build a box. There are lots of different plans online, but Farmer Guy liked this one the best and it will work with both our Nigerian kids and our Kinder kids, when ever they come.
We decided to start with the boys, because their horns grow in faster. Thus the need to disbud much earlier. We took them through the process one at a time but I thought I’d just show the pictures for each step together. First up was haircuts!
Now there is the actual disbudding with the iron. Unfortunately, I couldn’t figure out how to hold their heads (wearing thick leather gloves while Neil did actual burning), and take pictures. I was kicking around the idea of having Garyn take pictures, but quickly decided I didn’t want any human kids near anything that is 3 bazillion degrees. Maybe I’ll figure it out today when we do the girls. The white on the inside of the circles of left boy’s head is bone.
Now to explain some things. This is the most humane thing you can to with regards to horns, unless you have a good reason to let them keep the horns, which we don’t. The kids cried and freaked out way more when they were getting their hair shaved, than when the burning happed. The iron is so hot it cauterized any nerves almost instantly, so really the goats are more angry and scared about being held still in a box than what is happening to their heads. As soon as they were out of the box they were happy as could be. I’m proud of my husband guy, because he was big and brave and did an awesome job on his first go. He was always meant to be a farmer, apparently.