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Alchemy Acres
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Tip of the Month





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This month, we're going to cover one of the most basic of chores - namely the disbudding of kids. At this point, I'm going to admit that I am too much of a wuss to do this myself. I dutifully make the trek to my vets and let her perform the foul deed. I won't even stay in the room while she does it. My viewpoint is that this is a barbaric proceedure that simply HAS to be done. An animal with horns can cause grievous damage to her herdmates - e.g., perforating the udder of one of her companion milkers. Or an animal with horns can get caught in a fence and break her neck or strangle herself. So as much as I hate the procedure, I see to it that it gets done. The following article was originally taken from "Raising Milk Goats the Modern Way" by Jerome Belanger, and was reprinted in the Homesteader's Connection. Thanks to Trish McKee for permitting me to publish the article here for your benefit.

Disbudding is relatively quick, easy, and painless, although it may not appear so to the nephyte (ed. - or me either).

The recommended tool is the hot iron or disbudding iron. A kid-sized disbudding iron can be made from a large soldering iron (with a point about the size of a nickel). The point must be ground flat. A calf disbudding iron works well. It can be used even after the horns have started growing, and in many cases, used ones are quite inexpensive at farm sales. And, of course, they're available new, while none is made specifically for kids.

Hold the kid on your lap after the iron is hot enough to "brand" a piece of wood with little pressure. If the horn is not yet erupted, or you aren't too sure of yourself, trim the hair around the horn button with a small pair of scissors (or clippers). Then, holding the kid firmly by the muzzle, press the iron into the button and hold it there for a count of about 15.

There will be acrid smoke from burning hair, violent struggling (which isn't too violent with a kid weighing 8-12 pounds) and maybe some screaming. But when the 15 seconds are up, everything will be back to normal, except maybe your heartbeat.

Console the kid and compose yourself while the iron heats up again. Then do the other horn button. Offer her a warm bottle of milk after its over, and she'll forget all about it. And remind yourself that the next one will be easier.

As I said, I've yet to be able to do this myself, but I know many novices who have learned this technique, and now don't have to employ the use of a vet for this basic chore of the herdsman. Good luck!!


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Welcome PageDescription of Dairy HerdWhat's New at the Site?Crafts and Nifty StuffAlchemy's MenagerieTip of the MonthPrevious Tips of the MonthOther Resources of Interest