Cronkshaw Fold Farm, Goat disbudding, 7.4.17

I was pleasantly surprised to see that four of the goats had kidded- each with twins, which is desirable!
 Having two strong goat kids, especially because only females will be kept, is a huge benefit for the farmer.However, kidding just like lambing is not all plain sailing.

One of the day old kids has incredibly deformed forelimbs, and her head is twisted into her body. Her face also appears to be squashed, with pug-like characteristics. Despite her lack of mobility, she made up for it in liveliness. As I held her to bottle feed, she showed no signs of having a neurological problem and was fully able to suckle.


Between tasks, I helped to hold and trim the hooves of the new mothers which was more difficult due to their fatigue and tendency to use me to support their body weight. It also didn’t help that one of the goats loves to eat my hair.

I sprayed the goats matching their mums so we would know which goats to put in each pen once the vet had disbudded. It was interesting to see a different vets method with a calf dehorner. I helped to move the kids around, it was like a goat disbudding production line. They first of all received a ketamine injection, then when they were knocked out they were injected with metacam before beginning the procedure. Metacam is a pain killer and an anti-inflammatory. Cauterising stops blood flow and should stop the horns growing if it is done correctly.

Goat disbudding is a somewhat controversial topic due to the division in opinions. Unlike a calf, a goat’s skull is thin and fragile so cautery of the horn buds can crack the skull and fry the brains. However, under the Veterinary Surgeons Act 1966, only veterinary surgeons are allowed to disbud, this should eliminate the risks of bad technique.

I have read many discussions on goat forums regarding the pros and cons of disbudding. Horned goats can be dangerous to not only others but themselves by getting stuck. Break and goats can do serious damage when they butt. A herd of goats should all be hornless or all have horns for this reason. However, many people will argue that it is unnecessary pain for the kids.

I watched over them as they came back to consciousness and fed little Scrunch the deformed goat kid. The vet suggested Schmallenberg virus which I agreed with because of the lamb I had seen on the vet course. It is therefore unlikely the goat will live as it is not a case of spending time to stretch the joints.

The Schmallenberg virus can lead to a range of thing such as limb fusing, malformations of the brain such as hydrocephalus and scoliosis. It is a midge-born disease that affects pregnant ewes, cows and does.

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