Instructions for Disbudding Baby Goats

At Happy Feet Farm, we disbud our goats, unless the buyer tells us not to. It is without doubt the worst part of every spring. We have a nanny that has horns. Well, horn. One was torn off during a catfight with another hormonal mom. We were lucky it wasn't worse. She could have bled to death. So, in order to save these babies grief later on, we do it while they are young and forgiving.

This is our second year disbudding and it was easier for me. But I just stand and count to ten, and offer moral support. I am not the one burning the babies with a red hot poker!

Supplies needed:
  • "The machine!" Dehorner
  • Goat box (optional)
  • Heavy work gloves
  • Ice pack
  • Lavender oil
  • Melaleuca oil
  • Nerves of steel
  • Baby goats, around 2 weeks old
We raise miniature Nubians, so the babies are tiny. We wedged a copper fitting inside the head so that it could go around smaller horns on these tiny babies. You can wait until they are a bit older if you like and no attachment will be necessary.

I will spare you the torture of watching a video of the process. Although you can find them online.

This is how we do it:

To begin the process, plug in the Dehorner. It will need to be glowing red hot. We let it heat up for a good 30 minutes. You can test it on a piece of wood and if it leaves a good ring, it is ready.

  • Step one, Put the goat in the box. We made this one. It is not absolutely necessary, you could just hold the goat between your legs. We have done it both ways. If you wait to long, your goats will be too big for the box...ask me how we know!!
  • Step Two, shave around the nubs. This helps to guide the dehorner and cuts down on the smell of burning hair. 

  • Step three: Put on heavy work gloves to avoid burns. Hold the goats head steady with one hand and with the other, place the hot tool right over the nub until it makes contact with the skin around it. Making a circular motion, "stir" it around, never removing contact from the skin for 10 seconds. Remove and apply a drop each of melaleuca and lavender to soothe burn and prevent infection.  Repeat the process again on the other side. The ring around the horn should be a copper color all around. These nubs will fall off on their own.

  • Step four: give the goat a lot of love. Add an ice pack for a few minutes, then send it off to nurse with mama.
Do you disbud your babies? Why or why not?
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  1. Ohhhh, we're new at the goat raising business and I'm certainly not looking forward to this necessary step. We see how much our 3 does (Nigerian Dwarfs) head butt each other and could just imagine the occasional injury/accident if they weren't dehorned. Still, I'm not looking forward to our first dehorning this summer. :( Thanks for the first-hand information on the subject!
    - Katie and Mark

    1. Good luck. It is not the best part of Spring. But they forget and forgive very quickly.

  2. We raise goats and do disbud the babies.
    My husband does it.
    It is one of my least favorite things to do.
    Thankfully it is over very quickly and the kids seem to get over it fairly quickly.
    Visiting from the HomeAcre Hop!

    1. Isn't it wonderful to have a brave husband? I could not do it.

  3. No goats yet but I'll keep this in mind. Thank you for sharing at Tuesdays with a Twist (no rules). We hope to see you back again today.

  4. Thanks for all the great info! Thanks for sharing on The HomeAcre Hop! I hope you can join us again tomorrow :)