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Do you prefer Horned or De-horned goats for packing

Do You Prefer Horned or De-horned Goats?

24460 Views 92 Replies 52 Participants Last post by  goathiker
Lets take a poll of forum users to see whether they prefer horned or de-horned goats for packing.

Go Horns!
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I use both horned and polled (no de-horning for me) goats. The polled goats mostly for demonstration or working with small kids, old people (retirement homes) or handicapped people - less danger of someone getting hurt.

But I do like the regal look of an older, horned buck or wether!
We chose to leave the horns on our boys for a couple of reasons. To begin with, they just look fantastic. And, for protection-theirs and ours.
(Great site by the way. Look forward to sharing more.)
Brona and Thomas
I have both and I really prefer the horned. It's weird, but they seem to be more secure in their 'sense of self' if goats have such a thing. If they were people, I'd say they are more self confident and well adjusted then the goats w/o any horns. That being said, I don't want another horned buck. I don't know if all bucks get a little touchy when you try to take a doe away or not, but I'd prefer that they don't have any extra weapons if that's the way they feel. ;)

As much as I like the looks of them, I've had too many bad experiences with horns so prefer without. :( I NEVER want to have to dehorn a goat with existing horns again either so they must be burnt off early on while it's not so traumatic for them and they'll heal faster.
I love the horned goats for several reasons...One they look cool, two they are the goats only defense in predator attacks and three they were put there for a reason so why mess with it (I'm a wimp when it comes to dehorning)

Having said that....I am switching to dehorned goats because I have realized it is just too much stress and possible injury with my 2year old son. He can run with my 8 month old dehorned kids with no worries...but the horned boys...well I watch everyone like a hawk.

I may go back to horns when my human kids are grown.

Rachel Suomela
"Life is Goat! Pack at it!"
Hi all, I'm mostly a lurker but will try to get on here more. The horn or no horn question is almost something you have to experience. I have 8 goats, 2, 4 year olds, 4, 3year olds and 2, 9 month olds. they all have horns and joust with each other all the time. No problem with me , but if my wife gets involved the two older ones get jealous and have nailed her more than once. One of the little boys is the same way. I do like the horns but you must be on guard at all times especially when around people that aren't use to the way goats act. Great sight, and will be on more often.. Steve
I love the look of horned goats, but they can be dangerous for beginners. Alice uses her horned goats, so we mix the two often. She doesn't have any hesitation to use the horns as a restraint.

I've read that this is a no-no but the goats we've had and worked with since birth, don't get at all aggressive about being handle them, so I think, like many things it's a matter of early training to put up with the handling. So many things we thought at first were absolute no-no's turned out to be not so and I suspect this is another of those.

My goats are dehorned but my hired hand's goats were all horned when she was here, and ALice's all are, so we have plenty of them around.

I can't wholeheartedly agree with your experience that horned goats are dangerous to people who aren't used to being around goats.

I had in the last two years several groups of people here that didn't have any experience with goats. Most of our herd are horned and the goats act considerate and respectful around the "newcomers". It's more that they drop to a more unrespectful behaviour as soon as they sense that people are used to horns and goats.

The most dangerous goat we had (died last spring) was a hugh, polled Saanen wether who would climb up on people and children and/or try to butt children and adolescents. He had been raised on a chain and hadn't been socialised properly.
Rex, I most definately like and want horns for packing. Steve
I like the horns. I do understand and think your decision needs to be based somewhat on where you live and your plans for your goat. Here in the mountains of Idaho, predators are a real possiblility. Lions, tigers and bears, on my!. Well no tigers but wolves indeed. Not to mention domestic dogs. If your goats are going to be exposed to these conditions, it seems to me that you should provide them with a form of defense and that would be horns. We were contacted in the past few weeks by a lady trying to get a value for a 3.5 year old Alpine packer that was killed. Not by a dog but by a bear. Yes a Black Bear. First I have ever heard of this. And not even in the west but PA. Couldn't believe it. The bear came right through the fence into the barn lot and killed the goat. PA Fish and Game even called to verify pricing. Anyways, the goat did NOT have horns. I do wonder how things would have been if the goat did have horns.
Im going to guess with a bear looking for a quick meal horns really would not have mattered.
I have only two wethers and they both have horns. Have not had any aggressive behavior.
Didn't I read someware that there are large blood vessels in there horns that help to cool them in hot weather? If this is the case seems to me they are essential
The horn blood supply theory doesn't seem to have held up in practice. People who are using both don't see much if any difference in horned vs' dehorned. And if you are about to become dinner, you are going to run making horns less useful than one would expect since they are on the wrong end of the goat at that point.

They do offer some protection but so does a dog.

Everyone has their preferences but it seems to be one of those things where everyone has an opinion too. And what was believed at first, doesn't seem to have held up in practice. So we can all go on believing in our pet theories but I suspect that's all they are. And I don't plan to turn a vicious dog loose in my herd to test it. :? That's what my Pyrenees is for, and she does a great job.

Some people I sold a goat to lost that goat and another one, their neighbors lost 5 goats that their pyr couldn't get into the barn with the rest of the herd, which she saved, and their neighbors lost some sheep. All in one night a couple of days ago. Neighborhood dogs packed up and went on a kiling spree. The ones with the pyr managed to save most of their herd, since the pyr got them into the barn mostly and then defended them till Bill got out there.

I had a drunk try to cross my pasture the other night and the pyr went ballistic. If you've ever heard them they scream like a wildcat when the S*** hits the fan. You KNOW you better run or someone is going to die, and it's not going to be the dog. They seldom do it but it makes the hair stand up.

I grabbed the phone and the .38, didn't know if I'd be shooting the guy or rescueing him, either way the dog was handling it and he turned tail and left. The cops came and got him a little later. Turns out he'd wrecked his car and was trying to find a phone.
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Years ago, before I had goats, an entire herd of registered Toggenburg goats was slaughtered in one night by a pair of dogs here in Fallon. Every goat on the place died that night and every single one had horns, most of the does were also pregnant so that lady lost a lot that night. One dog was under ten pounds, so technically the 80 pound dog killed 17 goats all by its lonesome and every goat was horned.

I'm not thinking it mattered much.

Fast forward to a year ago last fall. A gal who bought a goat from me had a cougar come onto her place at night and attack her goats, another killing spree. She has nigerian dwarfs, pygmies and at the time, had the two packers, an adult alpine/togg cross and the baby boy she got from me who was a yearling or a weanling, I cannot remember which. He is polled.

That horned doe went for the cat after it had killed some of the little goats and apparently went after her friend, the buckling. She stood her ground, with the buckling cowering behind her, and faught like a tiger, holding the cat off until the owner could scare it away.

She was torn up, but lived.

Would she have been as effective a guardian without the horns? Likely not. Would she have stood her ground without them, maybe. I suspect most goats would not have stood their ground and would have died that night. Some individuals are more protective of their herd than others.

I don't want horned goats here, they are harder on fencing, more likely to get caught and strangled in fencing when they are young, more likely to have an accident with one of my children or one of their friends. They are also harder to saddle when I'm by myself because one twitch of the head might put out part of my face when I lean over the goat. I know they know where their horns are, but I've seen the torn udders, the ripped open sides and the bruises on the people, all of which have convinced me I'd prefer none around here. I do breed polled goats, which takes away the question.

I have a photo of my daughter when she was about 9 years old with a huge, red, welt and scrape on her belly and chest from a horned goat. She was standing with her goat for a group picture for 4-H. The goat with the kid next to her decided he didn't like her goat and went to hook him in the face with his horns. Sierra, who was on the other side of Gulliver did not see the other goat swing his head because Gully is so tall and Sierra was so short, so when he pulled back to avoid the blow, Sierra got it. That goat could have gored her had he swung his head harder. I think he pulled the blow, but she was cut, bruised and welted for about 12 inches, from below her belly button to her chest.

Call me a paranoid mom, but without horns that would not have been such a scary moment, nor would it have been so painful. Had her reflexes not been so fast (she twisted sideways and jumped back when she saw Gully react) and had that goat not pulled the blow at the last minute my child could have been eviscerated, all because a horned goat decided to knock her goat back. This was a pretty normal thing for a goat to do, it was not an aggressive act toward my daughter and I do believe that goat pulled the blow when he realized who he was about to hit, but frankly, that moment of terror will never leave my mind.

So argue away, our place won't have horns, my chidren and their friends are too precious. Loosing a goat to a dog is horrible and sad, but what might have happened to Sierra would have been far worse. I love guard dogs, who, by the way, can also kill people and children. There is no true safety in the world, only odds.

Charlie Goggin
Lightfoot Packgoats
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I too like the looks of horns on goats. Lots of my friends have goats with horns and they do fine. Since we have kids (human), we disbud all our babies. I have also seen the damage they can do. My past boss had 11 staples put in his head from a horned goat. He was working on a fence and the goat came up and smashed him in the head when we was bent down working on the botton of the fence.
At this point in time, our packers are dairy goats and we have one wether that is 9 months old. We are hoping to keep wethers out of this springs kids. I have heard of horror stories of horned goats tearing up dairy goats and I don't want this to happen to our girls. So some day, down the road, I would like to have horned goats.

Debbie L.
I've seen two horned wethers hold off a determined Rotweiller. Both goats were torn up but so was the dog. I have, and have had small children around our goats for many years. I'm talking about literally hundreds of goats horned and dehorned. I can say that the worst pain I ever received from a goat was a dehorned doe that kicked me in the nose while I was milking. Neither I nor any member of our family has had more than a minor scratch from a horned goat. That said, I totally understand why someone would not want to take a chance with an injury when they don't have to. Horned goats need to be handled differently than dehorned goats. We never lean over a horned goat without putting our hand on the back of their neck and never allow any fighting among the goats when we are around. Thats the time most accidents happen as Charlie outlined in her post. As for getting head butted, well a goats head is much harder than a humans and horns or not, if they butt you in the head the human will likely end up with stitches and the goat will end up on the barbecue.

Ironically enough the worst injury any of our boys ever received was from being stepped on by the horse. Here's a five year study on horse related injuries done in only a small section of Montata. You can times this by about 100.

Otoupalik's original study found that St. Patrick Hospital, a Level II trauma center drawing from 11 counties, saw 482 people with 802 horse-related injuries between 1995 and 2000. Thirty-seven percent had arm or leg injuries. Thirty-one percent had head or neck injuries. Six people died. The youngest victim was one, and the oldest was 88. Males between 30 and 39 made up the largest group of patients. May was the worst month for accidents.
As you can see horses are much more dangerous yet people think nothing about letting their children ride off on one. How many people do goats kill each year? I think we should keep things in perspective.
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Horseback riding is considered one of the most dangerous sports there is, right up there with black diamond skiing. Despite the fact that I have worked in the horse industry for 30+ years, I still have a huge respect for something that large with a brain the size of a mouse.

I have had more than one friend die or be permanently injured from horses. And none of them were doing anything that could have been considered risky in the context of horse handling in general. Goats are way more user-friendly, horns or not.

Here I get about the same percentage of requests for horned or dehorned kids as the poll is showing. I think you pick what you will feel comfortable with and if horns aren't it, there are other ways to protect your stock.

Personally, I love the way they look, but after having been bashed by Alice's horned goats a few times I just don't want to put up with it.
sweetgoatmama said:
but after having been bashed by Alice's horned goats a few times I just don't want to put up with it.
We need to get Alice on here to defend herself. :eek:
In defense of Alice's goats, they are not very well socialized and kind of brats. They know they are horned and they have no compunction against using them to push people around. She knows how I feel so she'll have to defend herself. I have been knocked down and fairly seriously hurt by three of her goats, or was it two and he got two cracks at me? :evil: Can't remember, she has gotten a lot tougher with them since these incidents.
I, on the other hand, have gotten a shock collar. :twisted:
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