When And How To Disbud Goats (Disbudding Goat Kids)

Why do I have to do this? Disbudding our goats is a very hard thing to do, but keep reading to learn why and how we do this. A hot iron, leather gloves, and a goat kid never sound good together, but the end result is a good one! At this point we all dream to have a polled goat kid! skip to the disbudding.

Raising baby goats can be a big learning curve and there is A LOT of decisions to make. There is a lot of controversy on this topic. The truth is that many people disbud and many people want to buy disbudded goats. Also many goat shows require disbudding in the show ring. It is a traumatic event but in most cases, goat owners don’t have an option. If you like goat’s horns, I understand. If you don’t like horns, I understand. I often go back and forth between the two because I’ve owned horned and disbudded goats and loved them both. A horned goat is beautiful and majestic looking but a disbudded goat is tame and inviting. What should I choose?

Why Do We Disbud Goats?

Hornless goats are what we decided on for many reasons. Our first reason is because we own dairy goats that will need to be handled frequently. If we had meat goats that didn’t need to be handled as much, I might be on a different side of the horn, but for now with our dairy goats, we feel it is the best option. We used to have goats with horns and let me tell you, they almost died many times! We were always finding their heads STUCK in things. We had to save their life countless times.

We also have young children who aren’t always paying close attention to their surroundings so we are glad we decided to disbud. We also chose to disbud because of the market for goats. Many people would never buy a horned dairy goat. We also buy from high quality disease tested show herds who always disbud. So even if we wanted horns, we wouldn’t be able to find many. We are happy with our decision even though we love the way horn look on a goat.

When To Disbud Goats?

Typically, You should disbud kids between 3-10 days of age. Most of the time when a baby goat is born you can feel a little horn bud on their head. When they start to grow through the skin, it’s a good sign it is time to disbud. They are just so cute when they are born you just want to snuggle them ad kiss them and get them to like you. Then it hits you, in a couple of days they will need to be disbudded.

Baby Buck’s Horn Growth

Baby bucks horns are especially noticeable at birth because of their rapid horn growth. Some male goats are ready to disbud at day one but we do not do this for many reasons. We always wait until at least day 3-5 so they can have a good foundation and handle the trauma. This will always depend on the health of your baby goat. If you feel they need a little more time to get on your feet, give them a few more days. In my personal experience, if the goat is healthy and strong, the earlier the better. If you wait too long to disbud a baby buck, it can actually be more traumatic for them because their horn tissue has more time to develop

Baby Doe Horn Growth

Female goats horns tend to grow slower and sometimes you can’t even feel them at birth. We have an F1 mini nubian right now who is 7 days old and we are finally starting to feel little tiny horns starting to pop up. They are nothing near what her brothers were at birth, but it still tells us that it is time! Our F1 mini nubian will be the model for todays blog.

Does It Hurt The Goat?

Short answer, yes. Initially the disbudding process is a painful procedure, but if done correctly your kid goats will be hoping around the pasture in no time! After the first burn, the horn cells and nerves are burnt and they don’t scream or fight towards the end of the disbudding process.

Our F1 mini nubian

Unsuccessful Disbudding? When To Reburn A Goat Kid?

In my opinion, reburning the already burned buds can be necessary shortly after the first disbudding procedure. If you wait to long after the first procedure it could cause even more issues and stress to disbudded kids The two main signs to look for is excessive bleeding, oozing and a goat kid in pain for a long period of time! If done correctly, the baby goat should have little to no pain, zero bleeding and minimal oozing. sometimes later on their scabs can come off at a few weeks of age while playing and there may be some mild bleeding, but I’ve never let it bother me because all of our disbudded goat kids turn out fine if the scab peels off.


If a disbudding is done incorrectly then you may end up with scurs. If the horn tissue is not fully burned then there will be some small underdeveloped horn that grows all weird. These can be cut or banded, but most of the time they just fall off. Below is a picture of our old buck that we bought disbudded by a vet.

Disbudding box?

I never bought a box and will never buy one after watching many goat owners ride that box like a bull! An electric dehorner and a goat box is a recipe for disaster! All jokes aside, the kid is able to squirm way too much causing more stress and trauma. I like to restrain the kid and comfort them. If you put them in the box, they have too much extra space, they don’t feel comforted and have the reflex to run, causing serious problems.

My Opinion On Domestication

“Horns are natural so we should keep them.” This is what I hear many people say and I agree. This is a very true statement but fences are NOT natural. When man takes a goat and puts them in their unnatural pens it makes a danger for goats with natural horns. So to me horns are great if they are in their natural environment, but they are not.

What To Do After You Disbud Goats?

After disbudding we apply ice to the kid’s head to cool them down. We then put a generous amount of guardian powder. This helps keep the flies off and helps keep the area disinfected. It also helps absorb any minimal oozing and keep the area dry. This really helps it heal up nice!

Reuniting Baby And Mom

When bringing your baby back to mom, put them straight to the udder with their head to the udder. So when the mom reaches down to lick her baby she can smell the back end and remember the bond that they have. There are scent glands in the horns that we are burning off, so this may be alarming to the dam. I have heard of dams rejecting the kids. although I have never had this happen, i always do this to ensure a stress free reuniting.

Reuniting mom and baby after disbudding

Warnings And Dangers Of Disbudding.

Before you continue, it’s a good idea to understand that this procedure is not to be done without proper knowledge. I have heard some people push down to hard and actually cause brain damage and death of their goat kid. We have personally had young goat kids take it harder than others, especially bucks. We like to give them a lot of time in between burns and blow on their head to cool it down. Ice if you feel it is the best decision at that time.

  • Do not press down on the iron, only the weight of the iron is necessary to prevent brain injury
  • Give the baby breaks and time for them to stay cool
  • The disbudder application times should not be longer than 3-5 seconds

Supplies Needed

If you are interested in using herbals you can check out this post.

Let’s Get Burning!

  1. I like to kneel down and put the kid between my legs, lightly setting myself on the top of the kid. I do not sit on the kid, but slightly contain them on all sides. This comforts them and causes less accidental burns in other areas. this is the most humane way in my opinion.

2. Test your disbudder on your burn board.

3. Press the goat’s head tightly to your leg.

4. Shave the area where the buds are.

shaving goat kids head before disbudding

5. Burn the buds until you see a copper ring. Do not burn longer than 3-5 seconds at a time! If you see white, STOP! this could be passed the copper stage and the white you are seeing could be the skull. always asses the situation and make sure all the tissue is burned away. If the tissue is still there continue burning, if not move on to the next step.

disbudding baby goat

6. This is what it should look like at this point.

disbudding a baby goat

7. Turn dehorning iron on the side and burn the tissue inside the center of all the copper rings.

disbudding goat

8. I like to do the figure 8 method on does and buck. I overlap the rings for does and a figure 8 method for the bucks to cover more area. The picture below is a doe and you can see how i overlapped the copper rings.

disbudding a goat with the figure 8 method

9. Switch back and forth between sides until all the tissue is gone. Don’t be afraid to really clean up the area with the disbudder. (switching back and forth will allow each side to cool in between burns)

Comforting And Nurturing

1. Ice the area if you think the baby needs it.

icing a baby goats head after disbudding

2. Give herbamins and guardian extract to support the babies immune system and get them perky again.

giving a baby goat guardian extract

3. Sprinkle a liberal amount of guardian powder to the area and pat it down. Be careful not to get this in the babies eyes.

4. Kiss your baby goat.

kissing baby goat after i disbud goats

5. Return the baby to it’s Dam.

bringing baby to mom after disbud goats

Do You disbud your goats? I know it’s not easy. I would love to hear your methods and tricks so don’t forget to comment below so we can hear about it!


  1. Really good post… I can still smell disbudding baby goats… it’s burned into my brain. I love the picture when he kisses the baby as the end… heart of a homesteader!

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