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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have a 2 year old Wether with beautiful horns, and I really want to keep them, but my kids are afraid of them, and he pushes my older dehorned goats around with them something fierce, so i think they need to go. I have heard that you can put the castrator bands at the base of the horns, and then they will fall off after a couple weeks. Has any one had sucess doing this? how likely is it that he will grow unsightly scurs doing it this way rather than having the vet dehorn him? And just for curiosity, if I ever had a goat with really bad scurs, could i use the same method to to remove them? up to what age can I do this on a goat?
 

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JRT, I've heard of the elastrator band method for years but have yet to find anyone who has successfully removed horns this way. I'm doubtful of the method because the center of the horn is a bony core so how is the rubber band supposed to cut the circulation inside the bone? Anyway. most people have adult horns surgically removed by a vet. It is expensive, bloody and traumatic for the goat. I know people who have done it and said they would never put another goat through the procedure. Might be a better option all the way around to simply sell the goat to someone who wants one with horns.
 

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The elastrator procedure only works if you first cut a notch iaround the horn to get into the quick. THis is very painfual for the goat and can lead to sinus infections that can be fatal. Messing with a goat's horns after they have grow is really not a nice thing for the goat. Rex is right, find him a home and get another goat.
 

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JRT said:
I have heard that you can put the castrator bands at the base of the horns, and then they will fall off after a couple weeks. Has any one had sucess doing this? how likely is it that he will grow unsightly scurs doing it this way rather than having the vet dehorn him?
Last year I visited a farm that used this method exclussively. They said they had a hard time using the iron (which I took to mean mostly lack of experience/training/confidence) and so started using the bands. I've never seen such a mess made of horns! All were unsightly and has significant "stumps" with hoorible scurs and side-growths requiring additional bandings, etc.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks for the insight. As for the scur question, A couple people have indicated that you can just cut scurs off, but what about really big scurs? For example, I looked at a couple goats that the seller has packed for a couple years, but they have huge scurs, I guess from a disbudding gone wrong. They were about as big at the base as a normal horn, and he would have to cut off several inches every year with a sawsall (but the way he was doing it, there would still be a 3 inch stump, which was quite unsightly). They would also bleed when cut, but not for too long. Would the castrator band idea work better in that situation? Would it be a long term fix? would it prevent them from growing back?

As for my 2 year old with the horns, one of my concerns is that as he is not yet packable agewise, I would worry that if he goes to a home where they may have a little less patience than me, that he will just end up as dinner. As for the castrator band idea, what if I had the vet give him some topical antisthetic before we filed the notches in the quick? One reason I was drawn to the banding idea was because it ultimately sounded a lot less painful and invasive for the goat, and I assume would be of lesser risk of infection with the horns protecting the eventual wound until they gradually fell off. Once the horns fall off, do you know if there is still a bloody hole left, or will it have partially healed over by the time the horn comes off?
 

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Hello,

one suggestion: if you have someone nearby who butchers goats and has horned goats, ask him if you can have the head of a butchered, horned goat. Saw off the horns near the head and take a look for yourself.

It's a mess, regardless how you do this procedure and I would never consider it.

What I would consider is training (him), teaching your kids about correct behaviour around animals (you're talking about human kids, right?) and looking at your housing situation if you don't want to sell him. Why not taking him out on trips and hikes? He's full of energy he don't know where to put.

At age two, they really have to form their characters. In German one expression is "sich die Hörner abstossen" = to shave off one's horns (wonder where this is coming from ;) )

And one last thought: if he has a bad character and not only is acting out (don't know if that's true for this goat) he may be better off in a freezer.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Well, he isnt really a bad goat by anymeans, he is for the most part just young. In fact, when on walks and the trail, he is the one that always comes first when called and stays right by my side when on the move. But he is not very careful with his horns sometimes. I have been working the squirt bottle to try and curb him of his tendanacy to pick fights with the other goats when Im nearby, and it works for the most part. One worry I have though, is that my other older goats (ages 4 and 6) do not have horns, and came from a hornless herd. My two year old with the horns pushes them around a lot, and he has definately taken the dominant role, and I wonder how the other hornless goats will ultimately fare having to take orders from a much younger goat. Or am I just making mountains out of molehills?
 

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“I wonder how the other hornless goats will ultimately fare having to take orders from a much younger goat. Or am I just making mountains out of molehills?†This part- yes.

We have one horned goat with our otherwise hornless herd. He’s dominate, but it’s not a big deal.
However, every goat is different. A really dominate, aggressive goat could be a problem.

In your first post you said “but my kids are afraid of themâ€. As Sabine said, I assume you mean human kids. You can do something like putting tennis balls on the tips of the horns when your kids are around to reduce the chance of injury. But, if you can’t teach the goat to fully respect and be careful around your kids 100% of the time; which may be difficult/ impossible if your kids are acting afraid; then you have a serious problem/disaster waiting to happen. You and the goat would probably be much better off to find a new home for the goat.

“But he is not very careful with his horns sometimes.†Perhaps, but more likely he knows exactly what he is doing with his horns.
 

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Perry said:
“But he is not very careful with his horns sometimes.†Perhaps, but more likely he knows exactly what he is doing with his horns.
I agree. He knows where the tips of his horns are from scratching himself and avoiding bumping into door frames and such all day.

It's partly the age, again and partly missing training.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Well, you guys are certainly making sense. In the past couple days Ive taken him and the older goats on several walks and a packed hike yesterday. He is getting better, and in fact on yesterdays hike was the most obedient out of the bunch. Except for one incident where one of the older goats got too close to him and he made a quick motion with his horns and it startled the other two goats nearby and they about pushed over a friend of mine in the fray. I still have some concerns that this new found dominance isnt the best thing for a 2 year old, as he had come from a horned herd where he was not dominant, and in a matter of weeks his whole life changed to where now he is top dog. I just wonder if it will emotionally damage him for the future. Is the life of the dominant goat just ment to be a life of solitude? cause the other goats just all keep their distance from him now, so that is another worry too that because he is so young, that he may be overly agressive with the rest of the herd and therefore be left out more that he otherwise would have.


Just as a side note, I spoke to a gentleman yesterday that has dairy goats, and he had done the banding method to dehorn a few times when he had purchased goats that had not been disbudded in their infancy, and said that it usually left unsightly scurs. He had one good experience with a vet in Utah though, I guess the vet had cut back the hide around the horn before removing the horn, then used the flaps of ski and streched them over the wound and sewed them into place over the sinus hole. The goat was under the whole surgery and there were no infections afterwards and the wound healed much quicker than otherwise. But he did say it cost a pretty penny to have it done that way.
 

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On bad behavior:

I used to believe that man had evolved from dogs rather than from monkeys as is the common myth. Look at the evidence, we have dens where we relax in the evening, canine teeth, a few administrations ago they said we had a b**** in the White House.

I was one of those triple alpha types... walk in the bar, claim territory, mark territory. "Yep, you're mine... You're mine too." That's what drinking beer is all about. To help you mark territory.

A couple years before I got married I became a changed man. I just had to realize that there was someone bigger than me. Then my behavior just fell into place.

It's the same with animals. An animal that has bad dominance behaviors just doesn't know it's place. Each kind of animal communicates dominance differently.

For clues, you generally look at how a parent treats the babies. Dogs and cats get bit on the neck as they get carried by the neck and placed in dark places. Goats butt each other, and 'mount' each other. The pros here say the ultimate dominance is flipping it. (Holding it down until it submits.) Holding a baby goat accomplishes the same thing. You need to be the dominant goat and put the boundaries on him. When you are established, and consistently provide those boundaries, he no longer has to fall into the role of the senior goat, and it frees him to play well with the others. (Since flipping works so well, you don't have to get into butting contests with them.)

The behavior of my kids changed immediately when I got older goats. The one who thought he was boss, got outranked immediately, and his behavior changed as he fell into the new role. As the older goats accepted me, even their position on the trail changed.

Their hierarchical behaviors are instinctive, so even an old goat can play a submissive role once there is a more dominant individual (even if it is you), around.

Someday I need to finish about the yaks, but the woman who had house broken yaks said that the way that you get along with a yak is to not challenge it's dominance. Where does a 1200 lb yak lie down? Anywhere it wants to. I suspect that her description of a house-broken yak was a typographical error that should have said "broken-house" yak.

You can train out instinctive behaviors, but it is easier to provide the clues to trigger them in your favor.

This old dog learned new tricks. So don't worry too much about permanently damaging his psyche due to this misalignment of hierarchy. Just jump into the mix and let him know who is boss. Worry more about permanent damage done by learned behaviors. A goat is so egocentric that it is proud when it has learned something new. You capitalize on this by rewarding him well and reminding him of it. If it is a bad behavior, then attempts to un-teach it can have the opposite effect of reinforcing it since they really think the act of consciously learning it is being commemorated. Instead you have to make them forget they learned it.

An example: The goat learned it can tear at the fence until it can get out. No amount of squirt bottle, clicking, coaxing, etc will ever teach the goat not to tear at the fence. You can even patch the fence, and the goat thinks it is a monument to his intelligence. You make him forget that he learned how to do that by building a new fence of a different type. Then he forgets what the old fence looked like, and that he had learned to get through it.

The pros here are wrong... The ultimate dominance is making taco meat. ;-)

**Side note: I think that when you are scratching a goat and it moves such that you are scratching near the pin bones, that it is submitting as well. Anyone else observe this?
 

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How long do you have him now? Why did you buy him? Have you spoken with the breeder about his behaviour?

He might have been pushed into a position he doesn't want and may have to grow into it and also the older wethers may give him a hard time even though you might not see the sometime subtle signs of challenging behaviour (not giving way fast enough, posing, shaking heads, challenging him when he wants right of way). A "really" dominant animal does not need to rely on aggressive behaviour that much as soon as its position is established. But animals that are challenged by the other herd members have to re-assert themselves again and again.

Look at the whole herd, not just him. Look at the situation BEFORE he bashes another goat.

And again: it's age. At around three years the bucks begin to battle for dominant positions in the buck groups in earnest.

And if he's new to the herd he may still have to find a friend. This can take up to a year. And he's singled out by several things: his horns, his age, him being from another herd. Imagine how you would feel in a group where you stood out like a sore toe....

And I know from the - now former - leader of our herd that the dominant position is a lonely one. He's training his replacement for about 6 months now (interestingly a now 3 year old) and after 7 years he's finally able to come up to me for some knoodling (he always stayed away and was uncomfortable to show "weakness"). They will share leadership for a while I think until he finally steps down to a middle rank position.
 

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Hi Everyone,
I've only just joined but I've been hanging around for a few weeks, and thought I should probably get around to registering. :)
Anyway, just wanted to say, JRT, you can ring your wether's horns, the rings to a wonderful job, are safe, easy, not too painful, and don't grow scurs when properly done. They can also be used to ring scurs from bad disbudding/bad horn ringing. Every goat that we have gotten with horns has either no horns, or any horn it has got have rings on them. We've had great success with them, since being told about rings when I went to my first ever show and took along a goat we had gotten as a horned kid. We ringed her horns, but not quite low enough, so she grew scurs, one was ringed early and fell off very soon, the other was a lot smaller so I ringed it later and it also fell off. She hasn't grown scurs since. Most of the other horned ones had the rings put on nice and low, so there weren't any scurs at all, but we do have a buck kid who we didn't ring low enough and he has scurs that look just like horns with the tip cut off, they about 1 inch or a bit less, which we'll ring as soon as they are big enough to get a hold on. When I read about Cuzco, I immediatly thought of rings, but then found many of you like the horns. The rings are fantastic when used rightly, and can turn the meanest goat (the ones that are mean in the absence of people and just tolerable when you're there) into a quiet gentle goat, especially as the horns get weaker and they learn not to butt. They can butt fine afterwards, but it is good training for a bossy goat, and far more effective than any human punishment as their horns hurt every time they butt anyone. Here are a few photos:
Jint with both of her horns
[attachment=1:33j22gz9]101_8316-Jint-25%+crop+rotate.JPG[/attachment:33j22gz9]

This is Jint after we had taken her horns off.
[attachment=0:33j22gz9]102_1865-Jint-25%+crop.JPG[/attachment:33j22gz9]
She is also tame enough to walk up to and lead here - she was totally wild when we got her.
I was very silly and didn't get any photos of her as a Unigoat, as we call them, but I'll post some pics of other ones we have/have had if you want them. I can also give you pics of other goats that have succesfully lost both horns and look great, if you'd like to see them or the before/after ones.
All the best with your wether! And yes, the de-horning also takes away their bossiness and social status, though they can fight and look after themselves perfectly when both horn sites aare healed. (within a week of losing them nomally)
Cazz
 

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Sully has scurs.
Both are wiggly. One is curving into his head. But since it is wiggly I think it will just curl back up and around. It is a small
one. I was told I could band them. I wanted to talk with
more experienced people about it before I did it.

I imagine I would need to get the band down into or near the hair line?

I was told that sometimes his larger scur breaks off and bleeds.
I will try and get some photos today.

R.
 

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Cazz said:
Hi Everyone,
I've only just joined but I've been hanging around for a few weeks, and thought I should probably get around to registering. :)
Anyway, just wanted to say, JRT, you can ring your wether's horns, the rings to a wonderful job, are safe, easy, not too painful, and don't grow scurs when properly done. They can also be used to ring scurs from bad disbudding/bad horn ringing. Every goat that we have gotten with horns has either no horns, or any horn it has got have rings on them. We've had great success with them, since being told about rings when I went to my first ever show and took along a goat we had gotten as a horned kid.
Cazz
Hi Cazz,
Welcome to the forum. I'd love to see some close up photos of how the horns are ringed and where exactly that the bands are placed to accomplish a clean horn removal. Also, how long is the whole process from the time the horns are ringed until they come off?
 

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Rex said:
Hi Cazz,
Welcome to the forum. I'd love to see some close up photos of how the horns are ringed and where exactly that the bands are placed to accomplish a clean horn removal. Also, how long is the whole process from the time the horns are ringed until they come off?
Rex:
Good Questions. I would like to hear this too.
I went back and looked close seen the bands in the first picture.
They are right at the hair line.
 

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Thanks Rex!
I took a lot of pics this morning of some of the goats with ringed horns or no horns, and also of horns that have come off and where each one should/was ringed to get it off like that. They will hopefully be uploaded this morning, and I might have them up by tonight.
I just checked my milk measurements (the only reliable diary for the last few years) and the first goat who lost her horns had her second horn fall off 4 months after originally being ringed. However, we have since refined the technique and the goat in the photos lost her first horn one month and fourteen days after being ringed, and her second horn thirteen days after the first horn.
The buck kid we did lost his horns within a month or two (can't seem to find a record of either coming off) and most of the scurs took a week to a month, depending on their size. One doe that we have ahs very stubborn horns, and the first one fell off eight months after we put the rings on, and the second horn hasn't fallen off yet - another 6 months later! The rings weren't put on that well though, and when I post pics I'll use them to demonstrate where the rings should be - where they aren't on her.

Here the basic instructions that I use (it gets so automatic that you won't think about it after three or four times)
1. Push all the hair back around the horn and find where the horn joins the skin - there is a ridge, but sometimes only very small.
2.Rub a finger around the base of the horn to make sure where the ridge is, and if it is small, get a file and, just above the skin, file in at least 1ml - the bigger the horns, the deeper in you go. If the horn has a sharp front, you will need to file into that whether or not you need to file around the whole lot. You can normally get away with a deepish dent in the front corner, and a slight indentation around the back and smooth part of the front. Feel the line around the horn to make sure the place for the ring is level right around the horn, and that there are no 'hills' between the vallyes that wouldflick the ring off.
3. The goat, by this time, will be getting a bit nervous, so you'll need to talk to it and tell it everything's okay, and if it is a bit of a hyper-active goat, tie it short or put on some sort of stand. A bit of feed for the more nervous goats also works really well. Next, get an elastrator (we just use the normal sized one, but for huge horns a larger one would be needed) and put a ring on, if possible, a little lower down the prongs than normal so that it is easier to get off.
4. Hold the elastrator at nearly 90 degrees to the goat's body, a little closer to 180 degrees as you lower it over the horn, and then line the 'prongs' up with each corner of the horn when the elastrator is about 1cm above the head.
5. The tricky part. Using one finger, push the section of ring at the front of the horn off the two front prongs into the front groove, then quickly turn the elastrator so that the back section of ring is as close as possible to the head without touching the head, and pop off the back section of ring. If the goat is calm, or the horns are big, it will just shake it's head, sometimes not even that. If the horns are very small, the goat may not do anything, or it may jump and marr - not almost as loudly as being disbudded, and normally only one or two marrs if at all.
6. Check the ring to make sure it is in the dints made for it - if it hasn't, try to roll it in, but occasionally (especially the first few times) it will have popped off where it can't be rolled into the groove, and that ring can be either left or rolled up.
7. Then you put the second ring - I always put the second ring below the first, as the lower the better, but almost on top of or just above the first is alright if you got the first one 'perfect'. Two rings are needed because their horns are strong - for a really large goat, three or four rings will insure more speed in removal, but even the smallest goat needs at least two. I on;y put one on each horn of a tiny horned kid we got a few months ago, and one horn is broken (very neatly at the base) but the ring doesn't have the strength to finish it off quickly, and I don't have the heart to put another one on while it's hurting so badly. In this siuation, I'll need to wait either for her horn to fall off, if the ring is in the right position, or until her horn strengthens and then put another ring on.

I'll post pics to show the 'perfect' position and to illustrate the different points.
ryorkies, just make sure with scurs that you get them nice and low. If the scurs are very small, they don't matter quite as much as they just 'twist' off, leaving a very tiny stump that doesn't grow and is soon covered by hair.

Cazz
 

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Hi again
Here are the photos (sorry - there are quite a lot!)

[attachment=4:1hbvj05u]102_3154-Bella-horn-25%+75%+crop.JPG[/attachment:1hbvj05u]
This is a front view of Bella's horn - the rings are quite a lot higher than they should be. If you look carefully, you will see a lump below the empty dent -directly below that bump is the best position. The dent below the rings currently there is from the rings before these - I will have to put new rings either in them, or below that lump (in the perfect position) if I can.

[attachment=3:1hbvj05u]102_3173.-Bella-horn-25%+70%.jpg[/attachment:1hbvj05u]

This is a side view of the same horn as above. The rings are a bit high at the back, but very high at the front. At the back they should be just below the slightly darker line, and at the front the rings should be just where the horn disappears into the hair - I have brushed the hair back with my finger in this picture so the horn is visible at the point where it joins the head, although it would normally be hidden under the hair. The rings should go directly from the back to the slightly lower place on the front, and if the ring tries to belly up in the middle, the horn will need a bit of filing. I couldn't get the hair in the middle to lie flat, otherwise the course where the rings should go would be in clear view.

[attachment=2:1hbvj05u]102_3135-Pookie-horn-01-25%+70%+crop.JPG[/attachment:1hbvj05u]
This photo is of Pookie's horns - I was rather silly as I mentioned and only put one ring on. If you look carefully at the farther horn, you will see where it had started to come up. Immediately above that would be the perfect position, but the ring is in a very good one anyway, which is why it has started to come off so quickly. The closer horn has the ring on quite a bit too high as can be seen more clearly in the next pic

[attachment=1:1hbvj05u]102_3133.-Pookie-horns-25%+cropJPG.jpg[/attachment:1hbvj05u]

In this photo, it is more obvious how one horn is bent back, and the ring positions are easier to see. The right horn should have two rings on just below where the horn disappears into the hair, while the left one should have another ring on directly below the one already on there.

[attachment=0:1hbvj05u]102_3189-Cookie's-horns-25%+60%.JPG[/attachment:1hbvj05u]

In this photo you can see the higher rings have been there for longer and have made quite an indentation already, but the correct position is where the lowest rings are and one ring-width below that. The tiny bit of horn visible below each bottom ring is the perfect position, but the lowest current rings are still in a very good and effective place. The 'perfect' position just takes the horns off at record speed, and the rings are not able to slip off because the base of the horn swells slightly as it rises above the goat's head and holds the ring down. That insures that you don't need to file if you get the ring perfectly in place.
I'll add a few more pics in a following post.
Cazz
 

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Here are some before, in between and after photos of Megs, with explanations of her horns, scurs and all that.

[attachment=4:176jonyq]100_8833.Megs-25%+crop.JPG[/attachment:176jonyq]
Megs with both her horns - note they are curved out which is why the later photo I will put up has her horns curved out

[attachment=3:176jonyq]101_1554.1-horned-Megs-25%+2crops-08.JPG[/attachment:176jonyq]
One horned Megs - look closely and you will see the stub of the other horn which didn't get taken off and later grew a scur

[attachment=2:176jonyq]102_0421-Megs-30%+crop.JPG[/attachment:176jonyq]
Megs without either horn but with her second scur ringed

[attachment=1:176jonyq]102_3131.-Megs-25%+cropJPG.jpg[/attachment:176jonyq]
Megs without either horn or scur

[attachment=0:176jonyq]102_3128-Megs-horn-sight-30%+crop.JPG[/attachment:176jonyq]
The back of Meg's head. The scurs both twisted off, hence the light remains, which are less than 1cm high and haven't grown at all since losing her scurs.

I'll post more later.
Cazz
 

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