We have learned a lot about de-budding in the few years we have started doing this. We have had successes and failures, vets doing it incorrectly, and our final decision to do it ourselves. So sharing our experiences will hopefully allow you to make the right decisions if you do decide to de-bud your kids whether you de-bud yourself or have someone do it for you.
ONE: Understand how to de-bud. There are some good sites out there that will provide step by step directions. Fias Co Farm is a good site. We don't agree with everything on
their site, but we do consider it a very well written and reliable source of information.
TWO: Know what equipment is being used and how to use it. Always contact the manufacturer of the products you are using. Know if there are any warnings they may have, and also get advice on correctly using their equipment as well.
THREE: How are the kids restrained? Know how you or another plans on safely restraining the kids during de-budding. It's one very important thing to know, if not restrained properly, more harm can come to those little bundles of bottle babies.
Lastly, know what to look for after de-budding to know that all is well despite what was done to those little joys. So, though we don't like it and never will, here are our 'learning the hard way' lessons and advice.
Shaver: We use a small shaver we purchased at Wal-Mart to shave the hair off around the horn bud. This helps two ways: we don't have the burning hair smell that is stressful to us and them, and it also prevents a lot of smoke that would interfere with what we are doing.
We use a Rhinehart X50A Calf Dehorner. Unlike the Rhinehart X30 that comes with a permanently attached tip, our X50 allows us to use either the regular tip or the buck tip. Notice in the picture that the buck tip is a tear drop shape, this allows more coverage of the horn bud. A buck's horn base is wider then a does, this is why people often have to de-bud more than once or try using the 'figure 8 pattern' when dehorning. Now here is a lesson we learned the hard way. The first year we used the buck tip we followed the advice of someone else. Not only was it harder to use, we had to re-do our buck two more times to prevent horn growth. Why? We placed the tip in the wrong area. This year (we had all doelings last year) our vet advised us to use the tip with the narrow part towards the eyes and the wider base on the horn bud. This didn't sound right, the buck tip seemed overly large using it that way, so before de-budding we called the manufacturer. We already knew that the manufacturer says to only use the iron for 5 second intervals, but now know that the tear drop shape must have the wider part flush to the horn bud at the front, (or forehead) with the narrow end pointed towards the tail.
manufacturer's recommended restrictions.
Pain & Stress Management:
Dehorning can be stressful on the kids, as well as us. To help them with stress and pain, we provide a homeopathic
combination. So, 30-45 minutes before we de-bud, we give a half dose of Bach's Rescue Remedy, Chamomilla 6X, and Arnica Montana 30X. If any of our kids seem more uncomfortable because of the de-budding, we know it is safe to give them a 'baby aspirin', one-81 mg is quite safe, just remember not to overdue. Understand, de-budding is not something that should be thought of casually! De-budding without the RIGHT knowledge and equipment can permanently harm these small young animals in your care.
We built the holding box using plans we got from Caprine
Supply when we ordered the head piece for the holding box.
The directions needed to be adjusted slightly. We use a towel over the middle board inside the box to raise the kid more comfortably inside and on the head piece.
'dangling' and putting too much pressure on their wind pipe. My husband will sit on the box and hold their ears away from me and the hot iron. This box is designed for restraining small kids, kids that are older the 2-3 weeks may be to big for the box and other means of restraining need to be found. Restraining the kids safely is of extreme importance, the kid moving at the wrong time can lead to heart ache on your part and permanent damage to the kids.
Now for the unpleasant part, here are some examples of our 'learning the hard way'. Also, know that some pictures we will share with you are very unpleasant.
ring, but we have gotten the famous copper ring after just three seconds! But sadly, if you only used the iron for three seconds on each side, you will indeed have to re-do the de-budding. We try very hard to keep the kids as safe as possible and DON'T want to re-do any dehorning job.
For the next two days we used ice to cool his head and reduce the swelling. Anti inflammatory shot to also help with the swelling. We used steroid drops to protect his eyes from the damage and pressure. That our Kitchi survived by some miracle, but as you look at his sweet face you can see that his head is misshapen and his eyes are slanted. Our Kitchi has been neutered and remains with us still. Someday we hope to find him a good home as a pet to someone who will protect and care for him. He is so very sweet and in spite of it all still loves his humans.
Not what you thought of when you chose to read this blog, was it? Are we still proponents' for de-budding? Yes, we are.
Our point is this:
If you are choosing to have hornless goats there will come the time when de-budding will need to be done. Whether you choose to do it yourselves or have someone else do it, know what risks there are and how best to avoid them. You are the only one responsible for the welfare of your animals. Because someone says they have never had a problem in 20 years, doesn't mean there won't be a problem. Educate yourselves. By sharing our mistakes with you, we hope to prevent what has happened to our Trouble & Kitchi.