|Blizzard in a disbudding box|
Before burning the buds, you are supposed to use hoof trimmers (or something like that) to cut off the tips of the horn buds. For some reason, that part made me feel much more queasy than the cauterizing did. I made Homero do that part, but then I did the burning. I sat down on the box behind the baby goat, and while Homero grabbed his head, I applied the iron firmly to the bud, twisting back and forth and counting to six. Most people say ten, but I wasn't taking any chances on burning his brains. I could always re-apply.
However it wasn't necessary. You can tell when you are done by the "copper ring" around the horn bud - that's a shiny, copper colored ring which I believe is actually burnt bone. It shows up pretty well in the photo below. Then you use the side of the iron to burn the middles a little bit more - just a second or two - and then the little fried cap of skin comes off, and you're done. On that side, anyway.
|the copper ring|
A robust baby goat ought to stay conscious and actively struggling throughout the procedure. You don't want to render them unconscious; that's probably going to cause brain damage. After you are done, promptly return the baby goat to its mother - they should run right up and nurse for comfort. The thing to remember is that even if the baby looks like he or she has come through with no ill effects, keep a close eye on them for 48 hours. If there is going to be trouble, it will be the result of inflammation and swelling of the brain. Inflammation peaks about 48 hours after injury and then begins to decline. If you have Banamine, an injectable anti-inflammatory, that's a good idea. Ask your vet for dosage information.
I'll be watching young Blizzard for any signs of trouble, but I expect he will be just fine. And I feel fine, too. It wasn't anywhere near as hard as I'd thought it was going to be. I actually had serious doubts about whether or not I would be able to do it, when push came to shove. But I guess once a nurse, always a nurse - the screaming didn't bother me much at all.