Wednesday, March 31, 2010
Eight baby goats in a very messy Eurovan
Today I brought all the baby goats to a local, very experienced goat farmer (Goat Lady) to have them disbudded. My husband has been pressuring me to learn to do it myself, saying that if I really want to raise goats I need to be familiar with all the processes - and although the whole idea gives me the willies, I agree with him. Of course, he's just using that argument to manipulate me; really he's just cheap.
In any case, I have seen the process close up before, but only at the vet's, where the babies are given a nerve block and then gas to render them unconscious for the half-minute it takes to burn their little heads with a red-hot iron. Goat-Lady does it by sticking the babies into a specially constructed box with just their heads sticking out and no fancy anaesthesia. They yell and scream and struggle and just about pass out from the exertion and the pain. As soon as you take them out of the box, they shake it off and within fifteen minutes, they seem totally normal. Goat-Lady does spray the burned spots with an antiseptic that has lidocaine in it, which I'm sure helps somewhat.
The vet charges about $50 per goat; Goat Lady charges whatever you can pay. I offered her $10/goat and she said that would be fine. And for the hour or so I was there, I got to pump her for goat-wisdom on all sorts of topics ranging from deep-litter bedding systems to how to handle various birthing malpresentations. We talked about mastitis and we talked about bottle feeding. And all the while, she was casually applying a red hot iron to the babies heads, pausing in her conversation to count off the seconds (about twenty-five per side).
It almost seemed normal. I left thinking, "gee, I could probably do that." I mean, sheesh, if I can handle KILLING them and EATING them.....
For the farm record: all babies were given CD&T vaccines as soon as we got them home. Iris is on day 2 of worming treatment with Safeguard and her diarrhea has progressed from foul thin brown liquid the consistency of soup to slightly less foul thick green liquid the consistency of oatmeal. I guess that's progress, right?