By Dr Clive Dalton
- Angora goats are not usually disbudded as kids like dairy goats, and owners are generally happy to accept horns on adults as part of a breed feature.
- But sharp horns can be a nuisance, and a danger to humans in both kids and adults, although they have the big advantage of making catching and holding goats easier.
- Horned goats can get caught up in all sorts of things eg fences, netting, scrub and trees, gates, etc.
- Kids can be dehorned with a hot iron before they are a week old but great care is needed.
- See the information below from the Painful Husbandry Procedures Code of Welfare states:
- “The skull of goat kids is much thinner than that of calves. Thermal cautery disbudding techniques must be carefully used to avoid damage to the underlying tissues, including the brain. If the initial burn is not adequate, or does not cover the diameter of the horn bud, then the site should be allowed to cool before heat is reapplied. As well as being shallow, the horn bud of kids is more diffuse and a wider piece of adjacent skin (5mm around each horn) should also be taken to avoid regrowth of horn material (scurs).”
- Clearly from this information, you’d be wise to get a veterinarian to do the job.
- You should also get a veterinarian to remove the horns of mature goats unless it’s just the end of very long horns, which are solid and have no blood or nerve supply. The sinus in the horn is joined to the sinus in the skull next to the brain.
- Caustic chemical disbudding done from 7-10 days old is legal but has many potential problems and should be avoided. Caustic paste burns. If it burns you skin, then the goat has similar feelings.
- This is done with a rubber ring and the rule is simple. Place the ring around the scrotum making sure the testicles are below it and the rudimentary teats above.
- Kids can be castrated at birth and should certainly be done before they are 6 weeks old.
- To castrate a goat over six months of age you will require the services of a veterinarian as an anaesthetic must be used.
- Using rubber rings is the most humane method.
- A ring is stretched with special pliers and placed around the neck of the scrotum.
- The rule is simple – make sure that before the ring is released that both testicles are below the ring and the rudimentary teats are above it.
- Hold the testicles down with your free hand in the scrotum while you release the ring to make sure they don’t escape back above the ring.
- It’s best to do the lambs between 7-10 days old.
- Lambs feel pain as judged by them lying down and kicking from 5-15 minutes but then they show no more obvious distress.
The 'cryptorchid' procedure
- This is also called the “short scrotum method” and is where a rubber ring is put around the scrotum so it will eventually drop off, leaving the testicles up against the body wall.
- The higher temperature this creates makes the sperm infertile while the ram gets the growth benefit of the male hormones while being infertile.
- Be warned though – an odd cryptorchid may not be completely infertile and may be able to get females pregnant.