A lot of people are surprised to learn that most goat kids (except the few that are naturally polled (hornless)) start growing horns a few days after they’re born; but that most people don’t want their goats to have horns. So, the horns are typically removed when the kids are babies using a process called “disbudding” (see “Disbudding Goats” for more on this).
A wooden “disbudding box” is an essential tool for keeping the kids relatively still during the process, and since goat kidding season has started – here’s an easy to build plan for one (the picture below shows the finished box with our Ruby inside serving as a model).
1 x 5 1/2 x 24 Top
1 x 5 x 24 Bottom
1 x 5 x 15 3/4 Ends
1/4 x 16 x 24 Sides
1 x 5 x 3 1/2 Belly Board (1)
3” T-Hinge (2)
2 1/2” Hasp (3)
Aluminum Neckpiece (5) – can be obtained from Caprine Supply
The reasons horns are considered detrimental are:
- Horns get stuck in things, and can cause goats to injure themselves
- Goats with horns can hurt each other when they “play” butt each other
- Horns can hurt people
- Horns can damage fences, barns, mangers, etc.
- Hornless goats are generally worth more because people prefer them
- Horns can break, and a goat can bleed to death from a broken horn
- Goats generally can’t be shown in 4H or shows if they have horns
The disbudding process isn’t difficult, but’s it’s painful to the baby goat (kid) for the few seconds it takes to do it (so they certainly don’t want to hold still) and is nearly impossible without a box like this to contain the kid. The box shown in the plan can be used for either standard or miniature breed goats.
Disbudding is generally done at 3 – 10 days old, depending on when the horn buds break through the kids skull (bucks generally need to be done sooner than does). It’s done by using a hot iron to cauterize the area around the horn bud so that blood can’t flow to the horns and make them grow. It’s my least favorite chore associated with kids, and is one reason we’ve started to bring polled genetics into the herd – at least a disbudding box makes it a little more manageable.