Do You Prefer Horned or De-horned Goats?

Discussion in 'Pack and Working Goats' started by Rex, Dec 10, 2008.

  1. Horned

  2. De-Horned

  3. Both

  4. Neither, I don't like goats


    CNPACK New Member

    Dec 13, 2008
    I prefer horns because they help cool the goats down in hot weather. They are also help for protection, and they look nice.
  2. Girl Scout Packrat

    Girl Scout Packrat New Member

    Jan 23, 2009
    I have Alpines - de-horned, primarily because it is a safety issue with children - the sole reason I do this! Here in Texas, I have not run into a predator issue - EVER - anywhere we have been backpacking, nor at our small 5-acre hobby farm in the East Texas Piney Woods.

    I pack with Junior, Cadette and Senior Girl Scouts.

  3. idahonancy

    idahonancy New Member

    Dec 13, 2008
    Idaho North
    It seems odd in todays world to be concerned with an increasing threat of predators. Here in Idaho it use to be almost certain peace in the woods. The big cats, bears, and upset moose were seldom bothersome while bugling elk in the backcountry. Recently times have really changed. We archery hunt the Sawtooth National Wilderness. Now you here the howl of dogs when you bugle. The dogs are huge, numberous, and agile. They bring down bull elk, moose, and deer. Horns or not I don't think the goats would stand a chance against these dogs. Ours are dehorned due to living on 1 acer in a suburban neighborhood. I keep the goats close and carry the alternative to horns on my side.
    IdahoNancy Oberpacker
  4. Rex

    Rex New Member

    Nov 30, 2008
    They are known locally as "government dogs". I also carry and extra set of horns. ;)

    Here's a still shot from some video I took during hunting season. This one is only 30 yards away with the rest of the pack behind it. [attachment=0:35yw4w6w]Wolf at 30 yards.jpg[/attachment:35yw4w6w]

    Attached Files:

  5. GoatTracksMagazine

    GoatTracksMagazine New Member

    Dec 19, 2008
    We have both horned and de-horned goats, and have not noticed any difference with their dealing with heat.

    As to protecting themselves, I think horned goats would have an edge on inexperienced dogs, but with experienced dogs, or predators, they usually attack the head and rear, so the horns aren't much defense when they get teamed up on. When 2 dogs got into our pasture a year ago they killed one horned goat, and badly injured both horned and de-horned goats. I suspect this has to do with there being two dogs, and one of the dogs had killed before, and also that our horned goats were trying to defend the little de-horned fellers.

    I think the key to having horned goats is to be mindful of eye safety. Even though ours are extremely tame, accidents do happen. Steve has a new beauty mark from an incident with our horned Alpine "Tuffy" when Steve accidentally stepped on Tuffy's back leg while trying to take a pannier off. Just as Tuffy reflexively reared his head back, Steve was reaching over to grab the pannier and got a horn in his cheek, just below his eye. It was definitely Steve's fault, and Tuffy stopped as soon as he realized he had hit Steve. Steve should have gotten stitches, but was 9 miles from the trail head at the start of a 7-day trip. He had a closed eye for 2 days, and a shiner for 3 weeks, but that was much better than losing his eye, even though I think he'd look cool as a pirate ;).

    We tell people going with us around the goats to wear adequate eye protection, especially when they're saddling or packing up the goats. It's also a good idea to wear eye protection when feeding them or giving them treats.

    We love the looks of our horned goats and have never had any other incident. And our de-horned goats mix in well with them (although they're not the "top dogs").

    Goat Tracks Magazine
  6. ashkelon

    ashkelon New Member

    Jul 24, 2009
    I was given my goat, and he came with 18" horns. He is a Saanen wether, and is very careful with his horns. He has the run of the farm, and most -- if not all -- of the people here have experience with goats. As a result, he is very social, and respectful of all the people, even the five and six year old children.

    He does have his boinking, silly, moments, but he gets the hard eye from whoever is around, and typically he stops in his tracks with a "who me?" look. He is very bright, and I'm fortunate to be able to have him in this environment.

    There are other goats there, both horned and polled. There are only a few, like him and a couple Boers, who are not destined for someone's table. He does have a lot of self confidence and humor, and is very level headed. He does not take any garbage from the draft horses, and when one mare was giving me trouble he gave her a good "thump" on the chest and backed her off. I don't know if he would be different without his horns, but I don't think he's going to be a problem.

    He does "step up to the plate" when the other goats back off, but I think that's his base personality. There are predators here too, but most of them are human. I know he guards "his" horses now when I'm not around.

    You are correct, horses are dangerous, and worthy of respect. It's different with the goat,though. He's more like the working dogs I've handled than the horses. I'm just amazed about what a witty, forthright, honest, animal he is.

    So far, he mostly uses his horns to tell me "where the itch is".
  7. lonitamclay

    lonitamclay New Member

    Aug 29, 2009
    I like both with horns and not. I have two wethers that are polled and do fine without and have had some with horns and they look gorgous but they seem to be more aggressive and do beat on my polled and dehorned goats. I believe horns do keep my goats cooler and fight off any preditors but with every goat and person it depends how it is managed.
  8. Freedom

    Freedom New Member

    Oct 18, 2009
    Glad to find the forum...I just knew I wasn't the only one :D

    I like horns... I do make some covers to keep myself and my son safe from accidents while out in the hills. Here is a couple picks from todays adventure.



  9. ashkelon

    ashkelon New Member

    Jul 24, 2009
    What wonderful pictures! Your son is going to have such great memories!

    What is your goat's name, and how old?

    I envy all of you the beauty of the places you live. When I'm in Iowa, I'm homesick for New Mexico and vice versa.

    I love the look of the patterned goats, but that white really "pops" against the green. I like our light colored goats in that respect.

    How do you make your horn covers, and what keeps them on? Friction?
  10. Freedom

    Freedom New Member

    Oct 18, 2009
    Thank you!

    His name is "Vanilla" ..he is comming 3yrs old. He is a Nubian Wether. I think he is going to be quite an animal when he fills out and matures. I have his twin brother that I have been starting as well.

    I make the covers from sheeps skin shearling leather that I use to line saddles. Friction holds them on pretty well... If you pay attention to the way the hide is cut you can sew them with the wool going the right direction to help hold them on... Kind of like petting your dog backwards.
    My goats have never tried to use the pionts on me but accidents happen when the goats have ther heads down and raise them up suddenly as I lean over them.
  11. spuds

    spuds New Member

    Feb 25, 2010
    Good thoughts from every one. I love the look of the horns but we are dehorned Nubian milkers. I hope to get them with small packs this summer. I am glad to hear that people do use both and have succesfull excursians. I was afraid that packing might be out and we would have to get a farm sitter but it looks like we will take them with us.
    Fresh milk for breakfast right?
  12. mal2280

    mal2280 New Member

    Oct 6, 2010
    They must be horned..thats what makes them a goat. Its there signature that they are a man... LoL
  13. Bent Barrow

    Bent Barrow New Member

    Jun 20, 2011
    Can I resurrect this old thread with a question? I have two three-day old Saanens that I plan to wether and sell as pack or cart goats, if I can find a buyer. I'm reluctant to wait too long to disbud them but I do want to offer them with horns if the buyer would prefer that. I've posted them on Craigslist and here. My question is this: if I do disbud them (which needs to happen within the next five days or so) then will they still have some value as pack goats? Are there folks who like them disbudded for this sort of work?

  14. Perry

    Perry New Member

    May 8, 2009
    It’s about ½ and ½…some people prefer packgoats with horns, some not.
  15. gsbswf

    gsbswf New Member

    Apr 5, 2009
    The main reason I prefer horns is all of the mess I am always hearing about scurs.... having to cut them because they are curling into the goats skull or breaking off and bleeding profusely. They also seem more dangerous to the other goats than a full set of horns, with some random sharp little nub sticking out. But, that is really just a pitch for proper horn removal.

    I have heard that if a dog gets in your pen and wants to kill your goats, it will, regardless of horns. While I hope to never discover the truth of that, I have watched my boys with dogs and I am usually trying to prevent them from doing the killing. However, they are heavy horned, not those little 12inch spikes that goats castrated at a proper age usually have. Also, they are thick at the base from late castration, so a good solid brick of a forehead. One good crack on the head, and few dogs that survive it would come back for more. Predators that are accustomed to the various species of horned prey we have out here would turn right around when the first goat tilted, since the risk far outweighs the benefit.

    With that said, I always hear...always, that you never hear someone regret getting a goat dis-budded, but you often hear them regret leaving a goat horned. I believe from a responsibility standpoint and a marketing standpoint you are much better off with properly dis-budded goats. A good friend of mine just had the "scoop" method done on some of his, and it sounded super slick. Probably pricier than an iron, but from the sound of his success, well worth it. I have no concept of buyers or anything, but I would pay more for a good well socialized goat with it's horns removed that way than pay less and deal with scurs forever.

    That's my opinion on the subject

  16. ali pearson

    ali pearson New Member

    Aug 11, 2009
    I have two horned, two hornless, and my vote is hornless. It's just one less chance of injuy, less fencing problems, more space in the camper shell for their heads.
  17. Bent Barrow

    Bent Barrow New Member

    Jun 20, 2011
    Thanks for your reply. I'm torn—I know these guys should get disbudded today (they're four day old Saanen wethers and their horn buds are already big) but I want to market them as pack goats and am afraid of hurting their chances for a serious packing home. I guess I'll wait through the week and have them disbudded Friday (they'll be seven days old). I generally have it done at the vet by the hot iron method but with gas anesthesia and local and systemic pain relievers. The DIY method offends my principles and the one time I did do it I ended up with awful scurs.
  18. Bob Jones

    Bob Jones New Member

    Aug 21, 2009
    I am a buyer. But Rex says that I am so different I don't count. Well he actually used another word than 'different'.

    I have bought babies from amateur breeders and from a pro and have gotten grown experienced animals from an outfitter.

    The outfitter was getting rid of horned goats for the safety of their novice clientele. In two years I have not been butted or injured by the goats. I voted for horned just because I like the look of them.

    A goat with horns is cool. Without them they are the Jar Jar Binks of the goat world.
  19. vigilguy

    vigilguy New Member

    Dec 12, 2008
    What is a Jar Jar Bink? :D
  20. Cazz

    Cazz New Member

    Jun 8, 2010
    Looks horrible from the google images. :lol:
    We have only non-horned goats, but we have had horned goats before and four of the goats we have at the moment were all horned. We found horns a danger and a nuisance, because we are very close and personal with our goats, leaning over them to give them their grain, putting their hay in their racks with them several inches from our face, etc. One of our does with horns, although very well behaved and gentle with them, always knew people were the boss and was a lovely girl, hit my brother pulling her head our of her hay several times, and could have done a lot worse than a very big, painful bruise on the face and one time upper arm. We have some friends with horned goats, and their two Toggenburg does had massive horns, looked like anntenae. After we had successfully taken the horns off all of the goats we had bought with horns (around 1/4 of the goats we had bought had horns) they were so sick of their does thrashing all the smaller does and being a real danger to their kids (one of their does was actually killed by hanging herself in a tree by her horns and breaking her neack, possibly with help from the other does butting her) that they allowed us to ring their horns. They are totally different goats now, and we are minding them both at the moment and it is just great to let the doe who loves rubbing her head on people rub on us, with no worry of these hors hitting you in the face or belly. (which happened accidently several times when we used to mind them)
    I think horns like nice, but are always a danger with people around, whether they seem like it or not. I much prefer a goat without horns, they are just as capable, happy to work and useful far more useful in some ways because you can use them around children or baby goat kids, old people, in small areas, at fetes and shows in crowds of people without worrying of accidents, and they are often a lot better behaved with other goats because they know they don't have weapons. (some goats won’t take advantage of the fact that they have horns, but that case would be very rare and you can’t really blame them – if we were in their place and had horns, I at least would use them!)
    I could give many, many more examples of pros for no horns or cons for horns, although of course there are other factors involved.
    When one of our dogs used to chase the goats, it was always the horned ones she went for – probably because they were the ones who tried to boss her around the rest of the time. When a dog is chasing a goat, (going for it’s throat, not just in fun) it’s horns aren’t that much difference, as a goats will normally run in fright whether or not it has horns.
    I know horns are beautiful, and often give a goat more character, but they don’t make it a better pack prospect and as has been said, more people regret leaving horns than disbudding. It is better to take the horns away at the start and never have problems, than leave them and later wish you had taken them off when they accidentally (or purposefully) injure a person or animal. Of course, you can take the horns off with rings, but that is another matter in itself and although it has worked very well for us, it may not work as well for others and some people don’t like the idea at all either.
    In short, I think the pros of horns are far outweighed, at least with close human handling almost guaranteed for the rest of their lives. I know many others disagree with me, but in my experience I much prefer a disbudded or dehorned goat. A properly disbudded or dehorned goat doesn’t grow scurs, and if not quite properly done, scurs can normally be quite easily managed. Three of our four wethers have scurs, but all are tiny (between less than ½ inch to, occasionally, 1 inch long) and we haven’t had problems with them. We have all our kids disbudded by a friend, it is quick and simple – we drive to his place, I pick up the kid our of the trailer, take it over to the bench thing, he disbuds both sides (and if it is a buck kid, does both sides twice) and I put the kid back in the trailer to go home. No fuss, the kids get a bottle or some of one, (or if they are on their mums, they have a drink from their mum who we bring along) and there is no more worry. I do have to keep an eye on their heads about two weeks/a month later and make sure there are not little scurs, and when there have been recently with a different disbudding iron, we take them back and get them burnt a second time. Luckily for us, we don’t have to pay anything except fuel to get there and an occasional cake. ;) I am more experienced now as well, and will say “I think that one needs a bit more burnt†when it hasn’t been enough burnt.