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General Information - Horns or No Horns

Horns or No Horns?

There is quite a debate on if pack goats should be left with their horns or disbudded. Disbudding is a process where a hot disbudding iron is applied to the horn bud on a very young goat to burn/kill the horn bud so the horns can't grow. It's not a good idea to mix horned goats with disbudded goat unless you have a very large place with multiple shelters. Goats are always reaffirming their place in the herd and the goats with horns will bully the ones without horns. (Ed: This is an absolute. I am fond of saying: 1) They know they got 'em, and 2) They know what they are for. A goat with horns will have a different attitude than one without. I introduced two small, young horned goats into my group of three, at a time when the two new ones were much smaller and younger. They walked into my pen kicking butt and taking names. They immediately jumped to the top of the pecking order, apparently just because of the horns. I moved them on because I perceived that they DID NOT fit well with my already established guys!)

The pros and cons of goat horns.
Goats with horns are more easily able to defend themselves.
Goat have a large blood supply in the lower portion of the horn that helps them cool off in hot climates.
Some people like the natural look of the goat with horns.
You don't have to subject your young kids to the painful disbudding procedure.
Goats can injure each other, or you, with their horns by accident.
If a horn gets broken it can bleed quite a lot and this could become life threatening in some cases.
Goats can get caught up in fencing because they can push their head thru and not be able to pull it back because of the horns.
Goats can get their horns caught in another goat's collar and strangle him/her.
If you have small children or will be taking your goats out in the public like to a fair, the goats shouldn't have horns because of the risk of injury to others.
Some goat develop scurs where they were disbudded. A scur is a horn growth from tissue that was not burned out all the way in the disbudding process. In other words, a poorly done procedure.

North American Packgoat Association
PO Box 170166
Boise, ID 83717

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