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How To Disbud

Updated: Jan 12, 2023

By Pat Christopher, Black Oak Farm


  1. Pat lays out everything she will need in different areas for ease in locating: clippers with extra blades, sharps container, tattoo kit with digits inserted into thick Styrofoam to keep them from getting lost, ice to help cooling after disbudding, and tetanus antitoxin on ice to keep cool. She uses a small recycled carmex container to keep tattoo ink in - the perfect size for a thumb!

  2. If you need a target when new to disbudding, you can use a sharpie to circle the hornbud after the clipping the head area. Pat usually disbuds first because they are less likely to jump around during tattooing.

  3. After placing in the squeeze chute or disbudding box, she places a gloved thumb in their mouth to hold their heads. The iron is placed on the hornbud for 12 seconds; a figure 8 is used on bucklings whose hornbuds have erupted. Disbudding is complete when you see a copper ring.

  4. Pat cools the top of the head with ice wrapped in a towel, then gently dries it before spraying the burn with Alushield. Protect their eyes.

  5. She then gives them a shot of tetanus antitoxin.. Notice she has labeled her squeeze chute for the Right and Left ear.

  6. She makes different colored card for doe and buck kids that includes the date of birth, dam, sire, color description, tattoo sequence, and important dates. One could also notate the location of injections, although Pat , a former nurse, recommends giving the tetanus antitoxin in the same place on every animal. She prefers to give it on their right side. She tests the tattoo pliers on the card to make sure the digits are loaded correctly before tattooing.

  7. She holds the ear to make sure to get all digits in the ear. If there is blood after clamping, she said to hold the area for a short time to clot it. She finishes up by rubbing the ink in with a toothbrush and cleaning digits with alcohol.



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