A pictorial view of disbudding

This post comprises information presented elsewhere in this blog and includes photographs which document the technique of disbudding.

The images below show the correct relative positions of the operator and the kid during disbudding. The kid is restrained in a disbudding box which is an essential piece of equipment for this process. [View drawings of a do-it-yourself disbudding box.] Successful application of the iron to both buds requires 10 seconds. It is essential that you are able to stabilize the kid’s head, absolutely. You must be determined to keep the head in position and steady. If, at the first protestation from the kid, you loosen your grip you will accomplish two things: you will extend the time required to complete the job and you will run a significant risk of burning either yourself, the kid, or the both of you. Since both of these alternatives are undesirable you must remain determined to keep the kid still by applying firm pressure. Also be aware that it is important to keep the floppy ears of breeds like Nubians and Boers back, away from the iron.

Once the kid is positioned in the disbudding box the operator should sit on the box to keep it closed and to assure the proper orientation with respect to the buds. We see no need to shave the area to be cauterised. We have done so, but found no difference in the result when this step was omitted. It can, however, make the buds easier for the beginner to locate and isolate. Just before application of the iron we feel, with the pointing finger of the left hand (or the hand not used to hold the disbudding iron), for the first bud. This is done to determine its size, location, and degree of development. Once this has been done apply the iron. The amount of time required to kill the generative cells will vary with the degree of bud development; we apply the iron for a slow count of 8-10 seconds. You will find it helps to blow air at the point where the iron meets the scalp as smoke will rise from the cautery site. Disbudding, for those of us at Pairodox, is a sufficiently intense operation that it requires two of us to carry it out; one to hold the animal and to apply the iron, and one to provide the slow count. You’d be surprised how difficult it is to concentrate on both application of the iron and such a simple thing as counting. If you fail to keep the iron in contact with the bud you will end up having to do it again or deal with scurs. It is better to do it once, thoroughly. Equally important as the  duration of the application of the iron is the way in which you manipulate the iron while it is being applied. Successful disbudding requires two simultaneous motions on the part of the operator. These are very much like the ones required to spool cotton candy on a stick. Did you ever notice, while waiting in line for your cotton candy, that the person spools the candy by swirling the stick in a large circle about the bowl while simultaneously turning the stick with his or her fingers? This is one action required of disbudding. You need to rotate the iron back and forth (through approximately 90º) with slight pressure. At the same time you must sweep your elbow and fist through a circle while keeping the tip of the iron on the bud. This action ensures that entire circumference of the iron is applied to the entire circumference of the bud. This twofold motion improves the results of the procedure especially in buck kids whose may have particularly large buds which descend toward the forehead.

Once the first bud has been treated you should quickly probe for the second. When you have judged its placement and degree of development you should apply the iron for that second count of 10 seconds. When the second bud has been eliminated remove the kid from the box and apply a coating of  a Veterinary spray of your choice – we use Aluspray which cools and seals the cautery site. Naturally, kids object to being disbudded and will struggle and complain. However, after a just a second or two they will go bounding off to play, none the worse for the experience. Keep an eye on the cautery site for a few days; occasionally kids will dislodge a scab and start some bleeding, necessitating another application of antiseptic spray.

The gallery below documents the techniques described above. Hovering each image will reveal its associated time stamp; notice that the process required just 50 seconds – start to finish. Clicking an individual image will enlarge it and cause you to migrate to a carousel view; you may move forward and back on your own. ESC will bring you back to this original page post.

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