Nigerian Dwarf Dairy Goats

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My little triplets are going to be a week old in 2 days and I'm gonna try my hand at disbudding, but I have a few questions.

I have two boys and one girl. I've been paying close attention to the boys' buds and they seem to be relatively unchanged since birth. Both boys were born normal weights(3.2lb and 2.4 lbs) so I'm wondering when I should disbud them? and is it possible to disbud too early?

Last year I had 4 bucklings born and had them disbudded by a lady I know who bred Oberhaslis. She told me that I needed to wait until the horns actually start to pop out of the buds(between 10 and 14 days old) . So the first boys were disbudded at 10 days old and the both got scurs one was even done twice and still got scurs. The second 2 boys were disbudded at 14 days. One had really small scurs, while the other had scurs so bad that we had to take him to get his horns removed surgically, and he still somehow managed to grow tiny scurs back after recovering.

So I understand just how bad disbudding too late can be. so naturally I don't want to have that happen again.

I know bucks tend to need disbudding sooner than does, but how much sooner?

My little girl is sooooo tiny(born at 1.6lbs) I can just barely feel her horn buds. Should I wait for her and her horn budlets(tiny buds) to get bigger?

My iron is a rhinehart X30 with a .55" tip. I'm told it's very good.

Other question:

How much pressure do you apply with the iron?

What are the limitations? i.e. how much pressure and how long can the iron be in contact without causing serious problems or death? 

Any tips and tricks from you experienced disbudders out there would be greatly appreciated!  

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I'm interested to know too. My buckling last year was done too late and had scurs that I had the vet take off and reburn them. I was told a couple weeks ago by his new owner that he had scurs again now altho they were small. I do Not want this to happen again but I'm terrified to try doing them myself!

Bucks should be done NO later than one week of age. We have done it as early as two days with a buck that was born at 4# and had very prominent horn buds.

We hold the iron on the horn bud firmly for a count of 3-4. I have seen people say they do it for a count of 10, but a professor at U of I told me that you can burn through a kid's skull, so we do 3-4 seconds, then look at the horn bud, and if the skin hasn't separated enough for it to lift off, we do it for another 3-4 seconds. The skin (cap) usually can be popped off about the same time that you see a copper ring where you've been burning. Those are the two things that need to happen -- copper ring and pop off the cap. Then you need to turn the iron to the side and burn the center of each ring until it's also copper colored. If the boys will be staying wethers, that should be good enough. If they're going to stay bucks, you should probably do a second burn where you feel a ridge between the horn bud and the nose/eyes.

Small scurs are hard to avoid, but the earlier you do it, the easier it is.

Does anyone who is experienced in disbudding have a video they could upload? I've read everything from Deborah's book and this site, as well as watching youtube videos, but having someone who we KNOW is experienced would be helpful. Some of the youtube videos are pretty questionable. 

I have a doeling and buckling that were born 8 days ago, so I am beyond the 1 week period. I have a friend who plans to help me disbud who has experience disbudding Boer goats. My buck is polled so that is my problem - I have done some reading but without experience feeling horn buds, I can't say for sure whether or not either is polled. Suggestions?

Horned baby bucks are born with horn buds that you can feel. We've had quite a few polled kids, and only once have I ever had a buckling that was horned that did not have horn buds the day he was born. Does are a little more challenging. Horn buds are more pointy than poll bumps though. Too bad you didn't have two bucks or two does because when you compare them, it's quite obvious. Bucks may start to get poll bumps by a week of age. Have you felt their heads. Also, there are swirls of hair around horn buds but not on poll bumps. If you have Raising Goats Naturally, there's a picture of hair swirls in there. If you don't have it, I might be able to find the picture on my computer and post it.

Paula Kirk said:

I have a doeling and buckling that were born 8 days ago, so I am beyond the 1 week period. I have a friend who plans to help me disbud who has experience disbudding Boer goats. My buck is polled so that is my problem - I have done some reading but without experience feeling horn buds, I can't say for sure whether or not either is polled. Suggestions?

Well I disbudded my two boys at 6 an a half days old. I found the hardest part was keeping the kid still, even with three hands on him. I hoping I don't have to reburn either of them. I kind of feel like I was a bit too gentle but I won't know until we pass the point of regrowth.

Wow! I didn't realize how many goat owners also feared the iron like me.

Emily- I agree! I've seen sooooo many youtube videos on disbudding. Many with different styles; Some flatten the buds, some do a figure 8, some go for the copper rings or general copper coloration, Some hold for 10 seconds, some hold for 3 , Some have them in a box and some are just held. (this is starting to sound like "Peas porridge hot") But yeah we need a good "how to" video on disbudding, maybe compare the different styles and bucklings vs. doelings.  

The only thing I would add, is that in my experience, my doelings didn't start getting buds as early as my boys, so I waited to be sure I could see where they were going to be, to make sure I hit the right spot. That said, it was only a difference of a few days tops, wait wise, and still under a week old.

I've been wondering about that. My Doeling is 15 days old and still has no horn buds. She's still quite small(3.4 lbs). I can kind of feel where her horn buds will be, but I have to feel around quite a bit to find them. She also has the little hair swirls. I keep checking her every day and they don't seem to change.

Is she just too small to have horn buds yet?

or, Is it possible she could be polled?

Neither of her parents are polled and from what I've read it should be impossible for her to be polled.

Just hours old. This is her(on the left)  being dwarfed by her brother. He 3.2 lbs she 1.6lbs, exactly half his size.  

Breeders of ND's around here wait a little bit for tiny babies to develop tiny points and the strength to handle the disbudding. Especially the little girls. I wouldn't like horns re-growing but many of my goats seem to have teensy scurs and it is of no consequence.

Wow! If she was 1.6 pounds at birth, I'm not surprised that you are still having trouble finding horn buds. That is one TINY baby! The horn buds are there, especially if you see the hair swirls. Because of her tiny size, it just takes a little longer for them to be obvious. On the other hand, we had a buck born at 4 pounds last month, and we disbudded him at two days because his horn buds were quite large already.

I ordered a disbudding iron but unfortunately it was back ordered and I still haven't recieved it yet. A friend loaned me theirs that they used on their full size goats. It looks like the tip is 5/8". Is that too big? My bucklings badly need to be disbudded and I don't know when I'll get my iron! :(

That should be fine, Myra. 

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