Today was a big day for the kids and I. Today was their very first vet appointment. We take all our farm animals to Plateau Vetrerinary in Enumclaw, WA. Dr. Pete came highly recommended by our Cloverleaf 4H leader and we see him every year at the county fair when he conducts the vet check. We have taken our other goats to his office before and he does a great job with them. There are very few veterinarians who have experience with goats so finding a good one is like finding gold. Today the kids had their horns removed, were banded (castrated) and were vaccinated. I have included a video of the process (Dr. Pete is a natural performer) so others know what to expect when they take their goats. I know there are people out there who will judge me and think I’m a terrible person for inflicting pain on my adorable baby goats. However, for goats, especially those that are shown, this is a necessary part of growing up.
Most dairy goat owners disbud their goats because keeping the horns intact can present safety issues for the goats (getting stuck in fencing) and rest of the herd (fighting with their horns). Disbudding at a young age is a quick procedure and believe it or not they are up and running around almost immediately. Waiting until the horns grow in to remove them is a traumatic experience and takes weeks to heal. When we bought EB she was not disbudded. At the time I did not think we would show her so I didn’t mind. However, the other goats we bought were disbudded and it became an issue when EB started head butting the others and they didn’t have horns to protect themselves. She became very pushy and the other goats were afraid of her. When we decided to show her in 4H shows we had to remove her horns. Even though she was only four months old her horns were as long as my pinky and as round as my thumb. She had to be put under to remove the horns and it was a pretty bloody process. It took almost a month to heal and she was very sore afterwards. After that experience I now know to never buy another goat with horns.
Since we show our wethers in Pack Goat classes our male goats must be castrated to ensure they obey on the trail course and don’t accidentally knock up a fellow competitor 🙂 Castrated males also make much nicer acting and smelling pets! Doing this at an early age is easier on the goat and allows them to heal faster. The best example I can use is circumcising baby boys. It is a whole lot easier for a young baby to heal from the procedure than an adult male. Some people believe early castration may increase the tendency for Urinary Calci, or urinary stones, which is a concern in wethers. However, after reading a few research articles and goat forums on the subject of early castration in goats I feel confident that so long as the wethers have a balanced diet, they should be fine.
More experienced goat owners often do the castrating, disbudding and vaccinating on their own, but I opted to go to the vet the first time so I could watch it be done and ask any questions I had. Going to the vet is also nice because Dr. Pete can give an anesthetic and local to help with the pain. The total cost for the office visit, two disbuddings, two castrations, two CD&T shots, two Bose shots and a whole lot of education was around $60, a great deal for sure! After watching the process I feel confident I can do the banding myself in the future and maybe with a little help the disbudding too. We did buy the Banding Tool and Castrator Rings with our kidding kit supplies, but I still need to purchase an Electric Dehorner. The kids are now back home with their mom and are doing great! They haven’t cried since they left the vet. Thanks Dr. Pete!