Disbudding of Goat Kids

By Vet Ben Dustan

Disbudding is the most common surgical procedure carried out in goats, but there are still regular reports of poor technique resulting in horn spur regrowth or even the death of goat kids.

Why disbud kids? 

Disbudding is defined as a mutilation under UK law. Not all goats are disbudded; many pygmy goats and Boer goats are kept horned. On the other hand, most dairy kids are routinely disbudded.

In the wild, horns may help protect the goat from smaller predators, assist the regulation of body temperature in hot climates and help individual animals establish dominance within the herd. Horned goats know they have horns and how to use them, which can often damage other goat’s udders or pose a potential risk to handlers’ faces and eyes. The RSPCA in their leaflet, An Introduction to Welfare and Ownership of Goats, recommends that horned and hornless goats are not kept together. See: www.rspca.org.uk/adviceandwelfare/farm/farmanimals/goats  

Disbudding Legislation:

In the UK, the disbudding and dehorning of goats can only be undertaken by a vet.

Age at disbudding:

Horn buds in kids are much bigger than in calves, so the recommended age for disbudding kids is 2 to 7 days. At this age the buds are small enough to remove with one application of the disbudding iron. Removing buds in larger / older kids increases risks of complications and regrowth. Goat kids are usually disbudded under general anaesthetic.

If you have goat kids and are likely to want them disbudded, please speak to your vet in good time to ensure they are experienced in goat kid disbudding. 

Our lead vet at Tarn Farm Vets, part of the Paragon Veterinary Group, is an experienced goat vet and is happy to discuss all aspects of goat care, including disbudding. Please contact the Tarn office on 01931 716024