is disbudding a goat painful?

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Goats develop horns as defence against predators and use them to fight to establish a social rank in the herd. When goats are housed indoors, they no longer need horns as a defence from predators and fighting for a social rank can cause injuries that result in lost production and decreased welfare. Further, horns can become stuck in gates or fences, causing injury, death and/or destruction of housing. For these reasons, most commercial dairy goat producers disbud (destroy tissue that later becomes horns) kids at a young age 👍 Disbudding is less common on meat and fiber goat operations, but meat and fiber goat producers who disbud should follow these same guidelines 😉 [1]
When we first purchased goats, we lived on a small acreage and we chose Nigerian Dwarf goats. We wanted our kids to be able to be in the pen with the goats and not feel intimidated so we chose small a small breed. That also meant goats with no horns. When our goats had kids, we chose disbudding for them. That was our stance until last summer, our first summer on our homestead in Missouri. We went from backyard goat owners to farmers overnight. We’re have keeping our little dairy herd that we’re have having on our acreage, but also added a separate herd of meat goats. The meat goats did have horns and I was nervous about handling them. I didn’t need to worry, all of our goats have a sweet nature and the horns have not been a problem. We decided to re-evaluate the pros and cons of goat horns. (a massive thank you goes to Charlese Donnelly for letting us know). [2]
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The analysts at offer additional insight. The nature of a goat is to be playful and curious, and this can create problems when they are horned. I had had several horned sheep in my flock and never had a problem, but they behaved quite differently than the goats. With sheep and cows, farmers can choose polled (naturally hornless) breeds. All of the major goat breeds, however, are horned. Polled individuals are sometimes born and occasionally, these are fertile. But the gene for being polled is loosely linked to the gene for being a sterile hermaphrodite (intersex). When two polled goats are bred, the offspring are often either horned or sterile. (revised by Margarito Greco on August 26, 2020) [3]
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Denisse Peterson from provide further insight. There are welfare concerns relating to disbudding (removal of the horns) but this procedure is routinely carried out on both calves and goat kids to avoid injury to other animals, farm workers and damage to the animals’ environment. Disbudding is performed on kids and calves at an age when the horn buds are evident, but before they attach to the underlying skull, with kids generally disbudded at a much younger age than calves. However, once the horns of goats have fused with the skull and a horn is clearly visible, disbudding is ineffective, and horns must be removed by amputation with either a saw or wire dehorning. (many thanks to Mikhael Prescott for their insights). [4]
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Kelly-Anne Kidston

Written by Kelly-Anne Kidston

I am a writer of many words, from fiction to poetry to reviews. I am an avid reader and a lover of good books. I am currently writing my first novel and would love to find some beta readers who are interested in getting an early look.

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