Tag Archives: disbudding

Disbudding day

Sun-bathing lineup! (one of Betsy’s babies has even joined the crew)

Was yesterday for the 8 babies that are on the ground right now.  A friend of ours had offered to help us out, and because I have been sick, time got away with me a little bit.  4 of the babies were turning two weeks old this weekend, and and that is kind of the outer limit on when you get good results with it.

Betsy’s babies are playing with the big kids today

So our friend and her husband came up around midday, and the sun was shining and everything went very smoothly.  I am not sure I could ever do the procedure myself, but someone experienced makes it look quick and easy.  So our little ones all have alien markings on their heads, and by chore time yesterday afternoon, they were running around and playing, totally unfazed by the ordeal.  I, on the other hand, was exhausted!

This is something that I really do not look forward to, but horns in a dairy operation are dicey…  the girls frequently get annoyed with each other for one reason or another, and they bash at their victim with their heads down.  Udders have been punctured and slashed, and then you have an even bigger problem on your hands (getting udders to heal is a long process as they are constantly expanding to fill with milk, and then contracting after milking).  And so we disbud.  In the long run it’s safer for us as well.  (Purebred Guernsey goats are naturally ‘polled,’ but our little herd isn’t quite to that level yet, although our Betsy was naturally polled).

The Captain and Tenille (aka, Betsy’s babies)

Our Betsy has been eating fitfully, and since we have taken her babies away, all she is doing is poking her head out of the panel and calling to her little ones, who huddle next to the gate into her pen.  She has eaten a little more over the last few days, but not enough, and I think her stress level has been rising, as she wants her babies with her.  So I fed the little bugs their 5 PM bottles, and let her out.  They mobbed her and nursed her for awhile, but I am hoping they will settle down and let her just be their mama.  She is such a good one.  I just have my fingers crossed that I can get her through this and onto a better nutritional plane.  One of the reasons I kept her is because her mama, Battie, is such a fantastic mother, that I hoped the trait would pass to her.  I guess it did, and ironically it’s putting her health at risk.

And so we keep figuring out as we go on.  You just never know what’s around the corner.  I am hoping for a little lull between births.  4 more to go, 3 of whom I have pretty good dates on, one of which I do not.  We shall see!


It’s finally feeling as though we are really getting into some longer days.  1.25 hours so far is not too shabby!  More daylight certainly gives me a bit of a boost.  And Pippi the doe is definitely happy to have some snow on the greenhouse, as she prefers to eat snow to drinking water.  Go figure!

Finishing up dinner
Finishing up dinner

Today I was putting together my (hopefully) last list of items I need to order for kidding.  My birthing box is clean and restocked, and now I am just waiting on the vet to answer a question about dosages for Tetanus Antitoxin, so I will be ready for disbudding.  I have not always been on target with this, but I am trying to be more organized this year, what with 9 does pregnant (or so I believe).  Even though the moms will have had their CD&T vaccines within a month before kidding, it’s not always right on the money.  And most vets are recommending a Tetanus Antitoxin shot at the time of the disbudding, just in case.  It gives coverage for 7-14 days, which is almost enough to get them to their CD&T at 4 weeks old (which has a long-acting Tetanus component to it).

Tracks around the favorite goat toy, the Big Rock!
Tracks around the favorite goat toy, the Big Rock!

Two of our girls are looking a little closer to kidding than any of the others.  Delta, one of the new girls, and Betsy, our doeling from last March.  It’s going to be close to see who gets there first, but my money is on Delta.  I detect a slight puffiness in the vulva, and she has a little udder started.   And so tomorrow we are scheduled to get the plywood end on the back of the newly covered greenhouse.  (Not really much of a construction project, just going to tie two sheets of plywood to the galvanized panel for a better windbreak… but that means drilling.  I love the battery-powered drill!).  And the tarp will overhang the plywood for a nice, tight fit.  Always a work in progress.

Tonight we are expecting to see some snow coming in, and it’s supposed to keep it up until early Wednesday morning, when rain and/or sleet is scheduled.  After our little plywood project, it might be a nice day to do some knitting!

Disbudding on a beautiful spring afternoon

Dr. Julie Greenlaw
Dr. Julie Greenlaw with our little bucky boy

Today we had another visit from the vet, and it was a beautiful afternoon for it.  Pippi’s two little Mother’s Day kids needed the disbudding treatment.  Their little horns had not sprouted as quickly as the earlier babies’ had, so we have been keeping Dr. Greenlaw posted.  Today was the day, and even then, I wasn’t sure that the little doeling was ready.  We keep tabs on how the horn buds are growing, and hers have been barely perceptible.  In the last few days, however, they did begin to blossom.

And thankfully, both were good candidates.  Dr. Greenlaw’s approach is very calm, and they get an anti-inflammatory shot and a tiny bit of sedation, plus a block around the horn buds.  No struggling and screaming is a good thing for everyone!  Then they get their tetanus anti-toxin shot, and all’s good.  We don’t put them back into the pen with the others until they are alert and ready to roll.  The doeling didn’t take long to come around from the sedation and she screamed in my ear and struggled so hard to get back to mama that I almost lost hold of her.  She is a little tiger in a goat kid’s body, that one.

I will take a walk up to see how they are doing in a little bit, and then I will be able to check off one more milestone in the spring line-up.  Things are greening up nicely now, and I have to admit that as much as I hate the heat, I am ready for it this year!  I think a lot of us are still in shock from the harshness of this past winter.  A little sweat will do us good :*)

Disbudding day #1

Sassafras has a little sit down after her disbudding.
Sassafras has a little sit down after her disbudding.

That was today.  Our vet came out to do the deed as we do not wield a disbudding iron, and even if we had one, we would not use it.  It’s a moderately tricky process, and if you heat up their little heads for too long, they can be in peril for their lives.

Pickles is so exhausted she took a nap with her head in the hay feeder
Pickles is so exhausted she took a nap with her head in the hay feeder

In a dairy operation, I don’t have any room for horns.  They use them against each other, and I am not in favor of torn udders.  So we suck it up a few days post-partum, and have the vet do it for us.  And when the vet does the disbudding, the babies get an anti-inflammatory, a local for pain, and a tetanus antitoxin.  So it is the way we roll.  And today went well.  I will check them before I go to bed, but they were looking alert before I came back to the house a little while ago.  And so it goes!

Finally Friday

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Yes, and it feels great! Today was mostly beautiful, with a few scattered and very dramatic showers. All in all, it was a keeper, however.

When I got home I had a chance to spend time with my babies. The older 4 were playing around the rock and up on the hill. The littles were in the pens with the mamas and I sat in Pippi’s pen for awhile and played with her little buck and doe. They are as cute as buttons and starting to do the little jump and hop dance. Tomorrow I worm the moms in the jugs and their babies go for the great disbudding jaunt in the morning. If the weather is ok tomorrow afternoon I will let the moms and babies loose. And hope that SnowPea doesn’t need to fight with Elf again. Really.

Elf’s kids and Monday

Back to work today, vacation is officially over. It was also the day that needed a visit to the vet to get our newest little ones disbudded. We were lucky to have her fit us in, and so we got that taken care of, thank goodness (the earlier the better!). Our little girl has a slightly different coloring than her mother, Elf, but she has that same lovely face and is a total sweetie. Her brother is the picture of Bagels the buck, but with floppy ears instead of stand-up ears. Beautiful boy! They feel like such peanuts compared to the older doelings who are on a tear around the paddock at any point in the day that they are fantastic entertainment. The two older girls are very fond of climbing all over me out on the big rock, and that is my fun every afternoon. Even though the weather hasn’t been that warm, we are still appreciative of the fact that it’s in the 40s every day, and not in the teens and the 20s!

Tomorrow Elf will be wormed early in the morning and then hopefully everyone will be ok to be let out of their jug to join the rest of the goaties. Progress. Now all we need is for Pippi to have her kids. Not a clue when that will happen!

Doeling’s big day

Last night I checked on all the little does and they were still looking good and I went to bed thinking that they would all be fine.  Wrong!  Got out to do chores this morning and as I walked up to the paddocks I saw the sheep lying up on the hill as usual, and the two mama goats with their babies lined up inside the greenhouse as usual, only something was definitely amiss.  Yowzer.  All of those beautiful white goaties looked like they had been through the wars, or that the Texas Chainsaw Massacre had been reenacted during the night.  All from one of Pippi’s girls.  The edge of one of her hornbuds had probably gotten torn (or the skin around it had during the disbudding and opened up) and I couldn’t even see her face for all the blood.  As we all know, head wounds bleed like a bugger, but what with the whiteness of their coats it really looked spectacularly awful.

One of Pippi’s girls at rest with John after the blood had stopped and she was all cleaned up

Our little one didn’t even try to stop me from scooping her up and running back to the house.  I skidded into the bathroom with her and John got her settled and worked on getting some of the blood off  of her.  Particularly her poor little face!  I ran back up and fed all the animals, because at this point they were a little perturbed that I had made an appearance and then disappeared just as quickly, and were creating a racket.  We had to call our friend Pam at Hatchtown Farm because I could not put my hands on the bloodstop powder.  She gave us a little baggie and we made a paste out of iodine and the powder and got it onto her newly cleaned up hornbud and then kept sprinkling more bloodstop powder on it.  Eventually we got her relatively clean, returned to her mama and reunited with all her cousins.  She definitely cuddled right up to Pippi and after a nosh she went to sleep.

Reunited with mama and cousins

It’s looking good now and it hasn’t even oozed at all.    We have been checking on her during the day and all seems well.  I just hope that this is enough to do it, because the flies are terrible out there and that is my biggest fear of all, getting flystrike.  Yuck.