Spring Peeper Farm

Not for the Faint of Heart

Spring Peeper FarmOK, you've been forewarned!

The photographs you are about to see are not pretty.

So go to someone else's blog this time if you're squeamish.

OK, you were warned.

This post is about disbudding.

It's a super controversial subject among goat farmers, animal rights activists, etc., etc.

I know some people don't mind goats with horns and they say that if the goat isn't nasty that it's not an issue, but guess what ... in my opinion, horns are an issue.

I have my son to think about and the other children who come to visit to think about also. Their safety is my No. 1 priority. Also our main buyers are 4-H'ers and the goats need to be disbudded.

Several years ago, I mean 15+ years ago, I had a goat with horns. He was the most docile wether you've ever seen. One day I had to give him his mani-pedi. Everything was going well when I turned my head and he turned his head at the same time. Then I usually wore contact lenses. I never wore glasses. But for some reason I wore my glasses that day. Thank goodness I wore my glasses! Because the tip of the horn hit me smack dab in the middle of my eye! It was all innocent. But if I had been wearing my contacts I would have lost my eye.

I swore never again to have a horned goat. And for a long time I never owned a goat after that.

So here goes. This is how you disbud a goat kid.

I thought of doing a video and putting it on YouTube but then I thought that might not be a good idea.

Disbudding should be taught hands-on. Not on YouTube.

It's dangerous and should only be taught by someone with years of experience. I cannot stress this enough!

The lady who taught Dave had 25 years of experience. She was retiring from the goat business and she wanted someone to carry on the work. He didn't learn it on YouTube.

I'm just putting the photographs on here so people can see what disbudding is all about.

Kid in box

First you take the kid and place it in a disbudding box. Never, ever try and do this with someone holding the kid. EVER!

We shave the kid's head. I call it the reverse mohawk. The reason we do this is because it saves on the time that the iron has to be on the kid. The iron burns the buds right away instead of having to pass through the fur first. Honestly, the kids scream more about being confined in the box and having their hair cut than they do having their buds burned.

Iron on kid

The iron is hot! Make sure it's hot. We have lots of iron marks all over the barn, to make sure the iron is hot enough. It heats to 1500 degrees. The iron is placed on the bud for 5 to 8 seconds, then taken off to let the head cool off. We do this two or three times. Also we scrape the middle of the bud to make sure the iron gets to that point. When you put the iron on the bud, you have to do it gently, yet some pressure. Not enough pressure and you won't get anything, too much and you'll go through the skull!! That's why it's so important to have someone teach you and not a video. YouTube is good for learning how to make bread and such things ... not disbudding goats!

Copper RingsThis way we get no scurs.

The most important thing is to make sure you get a copper ring. That kills the bud.

We usually don't get scurs after. The only time is when it's a male and he doesn't get banded right away. My theory is that the testosterone must kick in and cause the scurs. But that's just my personal theory.

Banding is ... well, that's another post on its own.

All done

After it's all done, they don't seem any worse for wear. But like I've said before, don't try this without having been shown by someone that's done it many times before.

Have a Blessed Day.



Spring Peeper FarmI'm not so sure how much more I can handle.

This year has been the year from hell for farming.

It's years like this that make you want to give up.

And it's only March! I hope that it gets better instead of worse.

First it started with Woody. The vet had to come twice, which is never a good thing. Money, money, money...

Even after a few weeks Woody was still sick and not getting any better. I finally thought ... kill or cure. I cut Woody off from his milk and his feed. Only water and hay. It worked.

Thank goodness!

Then we had another calf that the dairy had given us because it looked like Woody wasn't going to make it for a while. That one was doing well. Then almost overnight it went from healthy to dead.

Then two weeks ago Murphy got sick. He got into too much grain. This was on Friday night. I called the vet and she told me what to do and we made an appointment for Monday morning. (Why do all these things happen on weekends!) But by late Sunday afternoon he was not well. Not well at all.

So Sunday at 8:30 pm we were off to the vet. Yes, a hour and a half drive on a Sunday night.

So she fixed him up and he was good as new. We only got home at midnight. But anything for our baby.

Then the ring and pinion gear on Dave's tractor went.


$950 later. it's not fixed yet. That's only the parts. Labor ... let's not go there.

We did have good luck with the chicks hatching. We had 21. We hatch them in our bedroom closet and bring them to the barn in a makeshift brooder when they're dry. Our last one hatched yesterday and when Dave brought it to the barn he noticed Murphy motionless, with his eyes open, on the floor!

He ran to him and picked him up. He was cold and stiff as a board. He thought he was dead, but he wasn't. Almost. He called the vet and then called me at work in a panic. (Not that I blame him, I would've been freaking out also!)

So off to the vet we went again. We had him in a box covered in blankets trying to warm him up. A few times I thought he wasn't going to make it. He would grind his teeth and cry. Then he stopped crying and grinding.

I was sure he was gone.

But somehow we made it to the vet with him still breathing ... barely. The vet gave him a shot of epinephrine to get his heart pumping again. Then filled him full of glucose and warm liquids. Took blood for some tests and also gave him some painkillers and a shot of steroids. When he was stabilized she ran the blood tests. But they came back inconclusive.

He started coming around and seemed OK considering what he had gone through. But Dave noticed that he seemed to have slow reflexes on the left side. The vet called for a second opinion, and they concluded that he had head trauma or a stroke. We were just about to decide on the course of action, when his heart rate started to go down.

This was not looking good. He didn't have a good prognosis. It was time to decide. They escorted us into a room to talk and think about what to do. And to cuddle him a bit longer.

Murphy and scarf

Murphy is in goat heaven now.

I'll never know if we did the right decision or not, we'll never know exactly what happened either, but this way his suffering is over. Ours has just begun.

We miss him horribly. I'm having a hard time writing this without crying.

Eating hay

He really touched a lot of people in his short little life. Like Dave said, he was our little buddy.

Trying to get in feed bin

It's times like this I hate farming.