Hempstead, M. N., Waas, J. R., Stewart, M. et al. 2018. The effectiveness of clove oil and two different cautery disbudding methods on preventing horn growth in dairy goat kids. PLOS ONE 13(11), e0198229.

The effectiveness of clove oil and cautery disbudding on horn growth was evaluated in goat kids. The study used 243 Saanen doe kids (4±1 days old; mean±SD) on two goat farms that were disbudded with either (i) clove oil injection (CLOVE), (ii) a cautery iron and bud removed (BUDOFF), or (iii) a cautery iron with bud left intact (BUDON). Each kid received a different treatment per bud, which were balanced between buds (left/right) and randomly allocated. A trained observer monitored bud growth following treatment for 3 months recording either: N: no growth, H: normal horn, S: abnormal horn (scur), or SC: soft, fibrous lump (scorn). After the final observation, buds were assessed for the probability of detecting (i) success (no growth), (ii) scurs, (iii) horns or (iv) scorns [with 95% CI]. The probability of success for BUDOFF (0.77 [0.63, 0.87]) was higher than for BUDON (0.20 [0.11, 0.34]) and CLOVE (0.09 [0.04, 0.18]; P ≤ 0.05). Furthermore, the probability of success for BUDON was higher than for CLOVE (P ≤ 0.05). The probability of scurs was higher for CLOVE (0.72 [0.63, 0.80]) than BUDOFF (0.25 [0.17, 0.34]) and BUDON (0.30 [0.21, 0.39]; P ≤ 0.05). There was no difference in the probability of scurs for BUDOFF and BUDON (P > 0.05). The probability of horns was higher for CLOVE (0.21 [0.15, 0.29]) than BUDON (0.02 [0.01, 0.06]; P ≤ 0.05); horns were not observed for BUDOFF. The probability of scorns for BUDON, the only treatment that led to scorns, was 0.41 (0.25, 0.60). These results suggest that BUDOFF was more effective at preventing growth than CLOVE and BUDON and appears the most effective method, of the methods tested, for disbudding kids. Future research should explore other alternatives to cautery disbudding that may be both efficacious and cause less pain.

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