Goats make delightful pets, except for their horns. They seem to go everywhere and cause havoc. They get caught up in fences, they can injure or even kill other goats, and I’ve taken more than one horn in the leg while walking, or in the face while milking my goats. I really hate horns. You can remove horns by disbudding the goat before it is ten days old.
So, when it came time to disbud, I was all for it. Disbudding goats is relatively easy on paper. You use a disbudding iron on the horn growths on the young kids and burn off the horns before they erupt. After disbudding, you need to watch for scurs, that is horn growth. The horn growth isn’t like a normal horn. Instead, it may grow twisted and in all different directions.
Disbudding requires that you have a disbudding box or some other way to restrain the kid, usually a towel and a helper. You disbud by putting the hot round iron right on that baby goat’ s head. The stench is amazing and the baby goat is more likely to squeal because it is held down and because there may be some discomfort.
After you disbud, you must check for growths on the goat’ s head. These are the beginnings of scurs. Scurs, as I said before, grow weirdly and can seriously impact your goat’ s health, or in extreme cases can even grow back into the goat’s head. I had to put down someone else’s goat because the scur was so bad that it couldn’t be removed without causing the goat to bleed to death and the scur was growing right into the goat’s eye.
The trick is to use your disbudder to remove the scur again and again. Most people I know seldom have scur-free goats. Every goat that I bought has had scurs, which says a lot.
Should You Disbud?
There are good reasons for disbudding. You don’t want the hassle of dealing with horns. You own dairy goats and show them (showing requires dairy goats to be disbudded.) You’ve lost a goat, either by tangling in the fence or by accidentally getting cut by another goat’s horns.
People who argue against disbudding like the look of natural horns. Scurs are an issue to them, as is using the disbudding iron constantly to keep the scurs in check. I’m not fond of horns, but I hate scurs more. So until there’s a sure-proof way of getting rid of horns, I’ll deal with them.
How to Prevent and Deal with Scurs after Disbudding a Goat
Horns, Horns Information and How to Disbud (Dehorn) Kids
New York State 4-H Meat Goat Project Fact Sheet #9