5 Reasons To Consider Disbudding Your Goats

Goats can fall into two categories: those that are polled and those that are not. A polled goat is naturally born without horns, a recessive trait. These babies have a soft spot on their heads where the horns would otherwise be.

When your kids are born with horns you need to consider disbudding. Usually, it’s best to disbud at the first week of life. This is done by destroying the horns with a hot iron so that they don’t grow.

Nigerian Dwarf Goat in front of their goat shack

This may sound cruel, and horns CAN serve as a heat release for the animal. However, it is often best for the goat to disbud.

This is especially true if the goat is NOT in open range, and is kept on a smaller homestead. Here are some reasons why you should consider disbudding your goats when they are young kids.

Why You Should Disbud Goats

Horns Can Get Caught in Mangers, Fences, and Trees

Since they are notorious for getting into as much trouble as possible, getting their horns caught can be a regular occurrence for a horned goat. Sometimes, in their struggle to break free they will destroy whatever their horns are caught in.

The horns can also break off, and the injured goat will require a visit from the vet. Sadly, they can also struggle enough in this type of situation that they break their necks.

Horns Can Be Weapons

Truly. When two goats are butting heads, they use their horns. When this happens, the attacked goat can suffer much harm.

Of course, there is that goat that will come after YOU, or a child. Even when playing around, the horns can HURT. De-horned goats are easier to handle for that reason.

Horns Can Rip Clothing

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 destroyed.

Showing Off

Shows are popular for those who like to show off their animals. Now, when it comes to showing off a goat at a goat show, disbudding may be a safety requirement.

When it comes to shows, you have to consider the safety of your goat, the guy handling your goat at the show – if you’re unable to do it yourself – and the other goats being shown.

Disbudded Goats are more Valuable

Generally speaking, people tend to prefer hornless goats as they can’t do a lot of serious harm without those horns. This makes them more desirable than their horned counterparts and, as a result, increases their worth.

Broken Horns can be Fatal

Horns are strong, there’s no doubt about that, but they can only take so much abuse before they break.

When they break, all the blood vessels in the horns break which leads to severe bleeding which, if left untreated, can be fatal.

baby goats and their mother
two baby goats and their mother

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 to the site, allowing better sight and access.

The hot iron is carefully placed around the horn buds, burning them. Gloves should be worn to protect you from getting burned in the process.

Sometimes a disbudding box is used with a kid, especially if they are unruly. This handy aid will keep them still, allowing you to work much more quickly.

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 it is important to keep an eye on the wound, and have the topical spray on hand at all times.

Do you disbud your goats? What advice would you give to a first time disbudder? Be sure to pin this for later!

8 thoughts on “5 Reasons To Consider Disbudding Your Goats”

  1. I have disbudded my goat kids for years, but am going more for polled at this point. Love my milkers and have come to the conclusion that I prefer breeding for milkiness and being polled. My goats tend to be bigger and horns just don’t work for me, as mentioned hard on each other and us.

  2. You know, I hated being told i HAD to disbud our mini nubians. When I started breeding goats on our own my husband and I decided that we would go the route of not disbudding a set of twins to see what all the fuss was about. They are now 6 months old….and I see what all the fuss is about. They are POINTY. Like, SPEAR pointy! Even going in to feed them makes me a little nervous….I’m not nervous they’ll attack me or anything but that they’ll inadvertently jab me in the excitement! I had a friend who’s thigh needed serious stitches because of a close-call impalement.

    While i’m always a supporter of the “form your own opinion” adage, this is one circumstance when i say– think about it carefully! Especially when you know its a safety issue!

    1. That was the issue I grappled with…I didn’t want to “hurt” them, and it seemed almost cruel. Until I had several shirts ripped, a coat ripped and more cuts and bruises than I care to admit 😉

  3. I had Nigerian Dwarfs for several years. In the beginning I bought cheap unregistered babies. Some had been disbudded. Some weren’t. I soon realized no horns had some advantages but I figured I could deal with it. When I started havin baby goats I thought it was “easier” to leave horns on. I soon learned the error of my thought process. Soon most of my herd had horns and I hard to deal with the problems the horns caused. I ended up selling several otherwise perfect young does and and an awesome buck because of the horns. The buck destroyed a barn ramming on it for entertainment. They ruined the fence when they got caught up in it but at least I could repair that. I had to replace a dozen stock panels on some pens with utility panels which were double the price after I destroyed 3 panels with bolt cutters and one goat hung herself on a weekend I was out of town. I saved several new does out of my next batch of babies and got busy with my new disbudding iron. It was a terrible experience but the babies soon healed and forgot about it. I bought a new buckling that had been properly disbudded. They grew up to become a nice little breeding herd. I sold anything that had horns and replaced everything that goat horns had damaged. The lesson learned was priceless. Disbudding a goat is stressful for the goat and for me. I have several days of stress leading up the event and kids have 10 minutes of stress while I get it done. After it’s done we both live happily ever after. No one gets hurt. No fences and buildings get damaged. No goats die from horn related accidents. My wife never again has to come home and find her favorite goat dead hung up in the fence because I was an irresponsible goat owner. Disbudding is not fun! It’s the worst 10 minutes of your day. Deal with it for your goats sake. You will never regret it except the 10 minutes before you have to do it

  4. I have been raising goats for years. The goats horns is used to draw heat away from the brain in the hot temperatures. I have used a large set of wire cutters to trim the ends off of the horns. This does not hurt them and I trim them back to give a very blunt end. I do recommend disbuding the dairy goats as the does are bad about having a pecking order among the herd and a horn to the utter could mess up a good milker. For those with horned goats try to attach a short piece of CPVC plastic pipe to their horns with duct tape. I use about 1 foot long of 1/2 inch pipe and by the time the duct tape wears off they have forgot they can stick their head through the fence.

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