Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Dehorning the Buck

My camera is on its way home from Gloucester MA, so I don't have photos of this, but that is probably good since the procedure was not for the faint of heart! Don't read the rest of this post if you generally have a queasy stomach. Dehorning a goat, although necessary from time to time, is not an easy or pleasant procedure.

Vet2Be's buck was not properly dis-budded (removing the horn buds of a goat kid before or soon after they erupt using a disbudding iron) so his horns were growing at awful angles. (The buck came to us when he was about 6-8 months old. This was not one that we had disbudded). One horn was growing into the back of his eye, the other was growing into the back of his head. We had to saw them off about every 4-6 weeks to keep the horns from piercing his skin. All the other goats at the farm have no horns, the buck was the only one with horns. It is preferable to have either all horned goats or all goats with no horns in a herd. So this guy's horns needed to come off.

Here is a photo from last year after he got sprayed with the hose. If you look closely you can see that his horns are malformed. We kept them trimmed as short as we could, but the older he got the more the horns grew in towards his skull and the back of his eye.

Don't read any further if you have a queasy stomach!!!
When the vet got here he told Vet2Be that he might not want to be a vet after he saw this. But Vet2Be didn't mind watching. We've come to the conclusion that animals do feel pain, but not in the same way people do. Vet2Be does not take procedures personally--that means that he doesn't look at the procedure as if it is happening to him, he looks at it as if it is going to help the animal in the long run.

The vet decided he would rather give the buck a sedative through the fence. The buck isn't all that hard to handle, but he is a little 'pushy' when it is breeding season, and it is breeding season! He's starting to rut and get stinky!

When the buck looked good and sleepy, then fell over, it was time to go to work. The vet trimmed all the hair close to the horns so that he could see the skin. Then he used a scalpel to cut the skin down to the bone close to the bucks skull.

Next the vet used a wire bone saw to saw through the horn. One horn was a real horn, malformed, but it was growing firmly from his skull. The other horn was a scur, it was attached but moved when you pushed on it. It was not as firmly attached to his skull.

It took a while to get the wire saw through the real horn. There was plenty of blood, but it didn't seem as if there were too many 'bleeders' (blood vessels squirting blood). The vet worked up a sweat getting the first horn off! The scur was quite a bit quicker to cut through.

The vet packed the opening (the holes go into the bucks sinus cavity) with gauze and covered it with more gauze. Then he sprayed the wound with BlueKote to reduce the chance of infection. We also gave the buck a shot of Tetanus Antitoxin just in case he might get tetanus. It is always better to be on the safe side.

Vet2Be checked on the buck every 10-15 minutes from 7:30 PM until midnight. Goats have to remain upright. If they lay on their side for too long they cannot belch gas and will bloat. We ended up having to prop him up with an old bale of grass hay on one side and a stump on the other. We had plenty of fresh straw under him so that his head wouldn't be on the dirt. We also covered him with an old wool blanket because it was getting slightly chilly last night and there was a little light rain. By the time midnight rolled around his head was up, his eyes were open (sort of!), and he was munching on some of the hay that was next to him. It took about 5 hours for him to come out of the sedation enough that we felt we could leave him the rest of the night.

When we checked at 6 AM this morning, he was in his goat house and he seemed fine. He has been a bit slow today, but he doesn't really seem to be bothered by the surgery last night. He is eating and drinking normally.

We are very glad the weather is cool today. Hopefully that will keep the flies down, we'll spray with fly spray if we need to.

Not a pleasant procedure, but a necessary one since the buck's horns were growing at the wrong angle. I am very grateful for vets who will come out to our property and do the procedure here. I think it makes it easier on the animal to be in a place they are used to.

When the camera gets back I'll take some 'after' photos to show how the skull is growing in over the holes and how the buck is doing.

The moral of the story.... if you choose to disbud a goat make sure that you do it properly so that you don't have to dehorn them later.


~Tonia said...

I had to have one of my first disbudding jobs ever dehorned this summer. She wasa 2 yr old and it was growing tight to her head. SHe had actual horns though so it was easier to saw through. One came of with little to no bleeding because the Wire got hot enough the other was at an odd angle so it bled quite a bit. Our vet gave her a shot to bring her back around and she was up walking and eating with in 15 minutes.. It took her a while to heal but she did well adn after 3 months she is finally not head shy. Poor things. Vet said next not to be so nice with the disbudder.. I told her i learned because I havent had any scurs after that and its been several years..

TJ said...

Thanks for letting me know about your doe. We were told that our buck would be okay for breeding by October. Maybe he won't be totally healed but hopefully he will be healed enough to do his job.

You are so right about disbudding!! Best to do a thorough job the first time to avoid problems like this later on!

~Tonia said...

He will be pretty good by October. As long as he doesnt have any complications. Ethel my doe was done around the first of June and It took about a month for it to really close up good. I fed her crushed up Vit C a couple of times a week for about 3 weeks. It helps with healing. It sure wont hurt anything. I mixed it with a little molasses or yogurt and she ate it right down!

TJ said...

The vitamin C is a great idea. We give our milking does a vitamin sandwich--I'm sure the buck would love the same treat, too! Thanks for the idea!