Friday, May 20, 2011

De-Horning

The worse job for The Nebraska Prairie Girl on the farm is de-horning.   I would rather clean stalls and swath grass, than de-horn goats.  I rank de-horning right up there with butchering chickens.   I have gotten better at doing this hated job over the years.   I use to put it off as long as I could, this  made it even harder to do, since the horns had grown larger.   Though my herd consists mostly of Nubian's I do have a few La Moncha's.   La Moncha's are naturally polled (without horns) which is a nice little perk. 

You should dehorn goats around the age of 1 1/2-2weeks.  I usually wait 3-4 weeks,  I hate dehorning really little kids.   (just my personal feeling)   I do not dehorn any of the buck kids unless I know that they are going to be sold as pets.  

Why dehorned or disbudded?   Horns are dangerous to the handler and other goats.  I have been hit in the head by a horned goat before and I ended up with a huge bruise on my face and it about knocked me out.   Horns can become broken, causing blood loss.  They can get trapped in fencing or vegetation.    I have heard of many goats getting their horns hooked on fencing and feeders and breaking their necks.   I have also heard of getting their horns stuck on a fence and becoming easy pray to predators.  

Why remaining horned?  Horned livestock are better able to defend themselves  and their young from predators.  Horns are traditional in some breeds of goats.  Dehorning requires the right equipment or a visit to the vet. 

Whether to dehorn is really up to you as the goat owner.   For me it is much  safer for me as the handler to have all my goats dehorned.    Since  my goats are active dairy goats and are up close and personal  with me on  a daily basis, it is much safer for me if they are hornless.  I also feel it is much safer for the goat and her herd mates if they do not have horns.   I have never had a goat injured or killed  because it did not have horns to defend itself.  I am sure that there are instances like range goats that horns might benefit their survival. 

So let's begin......

Kid Box Torture Chamber
You will need:  A good quality dehorner and a fire proof holder
                           A kid holding box
                           Clippers
                            Ice Pack
                            leather gloves
Goat specific Dehorner
                          
                           








Chicory after clipping around her little horn buds.
I usually let my dehorner heat for at least 15 minutes before I dehorn my first goat.    Make sure to place the dehorner in or on something fireproof.   I placed mine on a cinder block this time but a lot of time I use a old metal coffee can.   I usually do a test burning on a board to make sure that the dehorner is good and hot and does a complete circular burn.  The last thing I want to test my hot dehorner on is a baby goat.  

Next,  I catch my most unwilling victim and place in the Torture Chamber (Kid box).   If you trim the hair around the horn buds prior to dehorning there is less smoke and smell. 

Make sure to have your gloves on before handling a hot dehorner.

Yes, I am wearing a farm girl dress.
Now place the dehorner around the horn buds pressing down and moving the dehorner in a circular motion.  I usually do this to a count of five.  I then pull the dehorner away checking to see how much more I need to burn and give the baby a break.  The baby will scream and scream as you are applying the iron.  (this is what I hate)  Of course, I apologize the whole time I am doing this.   The goal you are shooting for is a nice copper ring around the horn bud.    If the copper ring is not circling the entire horn bud I go back and touch up those areas with the hot dehorner.    



 Her hair color matches the color of the copper ring and her horn bud.   As you can see there is a nice copper ring around her horn bud. 

I always have an ice pack on hand in case I come across horns that are a bit bigger and take more time to burn.   I will use the ice pack to place on there horn bud and head to cool it down before dehorning again.   Once you are finished with both horn buds you can give the baby back to its mommy.    The baby will tell her all about it and then nurse for comfort.   If you vaccinate your kid goats for CD&T this would be a good time to give the vaccine since you already have them caught.  I do not give this vaccine as I try to keep my herd free from antibiotics and vaccines. 




As a mentioned before I do not dehorn my buck kids unless they will be pets.   I do castrate them the same day that I dehorn the girls.  I usually castrate in between dehornings to give my dehorner time to reheat before the next goat. I do not keep any of my buck kids.   Once they are castrated the are called wethers.




As you can see  in this photo  all the girls are dehorned and despite all the stress and drama they have already forgotten what happened.

1 comment:

  1. Great information. Well designed post. Very Helpful. Thank you. Do have a place that recommend buying a dehorner from?

    ReplyDelete