The Trouble with Goat Horns

The trouble with a goat’s horns is that they are – goat horns!  Honestly, I always thought of them as a pretty convenient handle.  But I’m not the only one who handles the goats.  For an eight year old, who is already at a 30 pound disadvantage, a set of nice horns can be the weapon that tips the scales in the goat’s favor.

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This is not a big deal when the goats are young as you can burn the buds before they start growing and that will stop the horns from developing.  However, once they are a couple years old and the horns are  6 to 8 inches long, it becomes a little bit more of a challenge.  The horns have a nice large vein that runs up the middle of the horn, which provides nutrients to the horn so it can continue to grow over their life time.  So if you try to cut them off, I understand it can get a bit messy and even fatal to the goat if you are unable to cauterize the vein quick enough.  Even then, you have the remaining horn that may grow back.

So, after some research, we found that we could turn our elastrator into a multi-use tool.  Apparently, this tool can be used for more than removing unwanted private parts from our male animals.  So understanding this is a first run at this, I’ll give you the run down of the events and then we can wait together and see if it actually works.

First you need a goat with horns… wait we covered that part.  OK, so first we needed a way to restrain the goat somewhat.  We found a nice lead rope and the hog panel seemed to do the trick.

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To be honest it took a couple young men to help her remain still a couple times, but for the most part this worked fairly well.  We thought of using the milking stanchion, but decided we really didn’t want that associated with this procedure.  Who knows if she would ever get on the stand again.

Next you have to find the base of the horns.  This is usually just about a 1/4 inch below the hair line.  In a perfect world, you would have some animal shears and be able to shave the hair around the base of the horns.  But we live in a fallen world and the shaver’s battery is dead.  So we proceeded with what we had.

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So far so good.  Some directions we found indicated that you would need to file around the base where the band was going to be placed.  But as this was all skin we did not see the need or the wisdom in that.  I suspect in an older goat that step may be needed.  Next the cheerio is loaded on the elastrator.

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Place the band on the horn…

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 …and push it down over the base of the horn so that it is on the skin below the horn.

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Lather, Rinse, Repeat.  That’s it.  Just repeat the process for the other horn.  We placed another band above each of the primary bands to keep them from slipping up.  After all, how often do you get to use your handy elasticator.

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Supposedly the only thing we need to add to this recipe is some time; from 2 to 4 weeks.  I found that large time window a little concerning and I suspect it will not go that smoothly but we’ll let you know.

There probably is one last relevant piece of information that you should know in case you wish to try this at home.  The goat won’t like it too much at first.  Especially a Nubian as they tend to talk too much anyway. 

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tTJOjXF-hPg

Have you ever heard a Nubian complain before?  It took her about an hour to quit trying to rub the bands off on the barn wall and yelling at us from time to time about what we did to her.  Since then she has been fine and seems to go about eating and being milked twice a day with no thought about it. 

She will still yell at us when she wants something.  For instance if we are late milking her or feeding her.  If we are out in the yard not paying attention to her or trying to do pretty much anything else other than what she wants!  Seriously, click the video one more time, now pretend it is 5 o’clock in the morning and your bedroom window is facing the milk barn!  Ahh, farm life!

3 Comments

  • vinicius says:

    having never had the pleasure of meeting a nubian goat, i also had not sampled that supremely satisfying yell. that was truly hilarious. my 9 month old is mimicking the goat each time we play it back…and with 4 older siblings we’ve played it back many time =)
    Mike

  • […] Our Nubian milk goat’s horns fell off after about 3 1/2 weeks.  Here’s the story about how and why we banded the goat’s horns:  The Trouble with Goat Horns.  […]

  • Jenny says:

    Hi,
    I was wondering how old your Nubian was when you banded her horns. I have four babies less than 12 weeks old that we disbudded but did it wrong. They all have horn buds growing, especially the two little bucks. We are wanting to try this method as it seems easier and cheaper than going to the vet.  I loved your pics and your article on it.  Is this what you do to all your goats or do you disbudd them when they are babies?  Thanks for the great article.

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