Goats are in main two categories, those that are polled and those that are not. Being polled means that the goat is naturally born without horns and a soft spot appears on their head. This is a recessive gene that a goat inherits. When your kids are born with horns you need to consider disbudding your goats. Usually, you want to disbud the first week of life.This means that you basically destroy the horns with a hot iron so that they don’t grow.
That may sound cruel, and horns CAN serve as a heat release for the animal, but in fact is more often safer to disbud for the goat. This is especially true if the goat is NOT in the open range, and is kept on a smaller homestead. Here are some reasons you should consider disbudding your goats when they are young kids.
The horns can get caught in mangers, fences or trees.
Since goats are notorious for getting into as much trouble as possible, getting horns caught can be a regular thing for a horned goat. Sometimes, they can struggle to break free that they can destroy what their horns are caught in. The horns can also break off, and the goat will require a visit from the vet to help with the possible blood loss. Sadly, they can also struggle enough that they can break their necks.
Horns can be a weapon.
Truly. When 2 goats are butting heads, the horns naturally will be used. This can mean that the attacked goat can suffer more harm. Of course, there is that goat that will come after YOU, or a child. Even when playing around, the horns can HURT. Dehorned goats are easier to handle for that reason.
Horns can rip clothing rapidly.
I had several favorite sweatshirts that my girl ripped with her horns. That was when we decided no more horns in our herd. Each kid after would be disbudded. I just couldn’t afford to have more shirts and coats ripped.
Disbudding a goat is easy to learn. I would suggest that you work with an experienced homesteader who will help you the first few times. Often, the hair around the horn buds is clipped close, allowing better sight and access. The hot iron is carefully placed around the horn buds, burning them. Using gloves will protect you from getting burned in the process.
Sometimes a disbudding box is used on the kid, especially if they are unruly. This will keep them still, and allow you to work much quicker. For the experienced disbudder, just holding the kid between your knees may be enough.
To provide a bit of relief, a topical antiseptic spray or solarcaine can be applied to the area to help it cool and heal. We like to use a combination of coconut oil and olive oil for this. Infections may occur after disbudding, so its important to keep an eye on the wound, and have the topical spray on hand at all times.