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Do you prefer Horned or De-horned goats for packing

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Bob Jones said:
A goat with horns is cool. Without them they are the Jar Jar Binks of the goat world.
I google it and got a good chuckle!

Having horned goats for 5 years, now switching to disbudded goats. Tired of the bashing at the feeder, catching legs in between the horns, raking the tree bark at the camp sites, etc.

I figure if they need protection on the trail from unleashed agressive dogs, that's what my .380 S & W Bodyguard is for.

We did the scooping and then the burning, and it worked fine on two of the three triplets, buckling #2 going back for a re-scoop due to a 1/2 inch long scur. The other two took fine. The kids were sedated during the process.
 

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Regarding scurs, I had one wether with three inch, gnarly scurs that kept breaking loose and bleeding. When he was two, I finally spoke to the vet about it and it turns out you CAN redisbud at that age! He was disbudded again at the vet clinic under anesthesia for a modest cost and his scurs never grew back. It was far, far easier than an actual dehorning and I don't regret having him disbudded and then disbudded again.
 

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Cazz said:
Jar Jar Binks - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jar Jar Binks is a fictional character from the Star Wars prequel trilogy
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 â€" 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 â€" 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 â€" 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.
Cheers,
Cazz
Thank you Cazz for sharing your thoughts and opinion, it was very interesting for me to read it! Wonderful post!


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I much prefer goats with horns, havent had problems with them bashing the furniture/pens etc, and I think it is because I am pretty dominant myself havent had any problems that way with them, if I did it'd be topsy turvey time for them and they know it.

I hadnt thought much about castrating at an older age to get heavier horn base, generally what age would be better to leave them to before cutting them? 6 mos? yearlings?

I do agree that it should be all or none with horns.
 

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THis is the first year I have had no call for horned goats, not one. When you sell 30-40 goats a year that usually translates into about 1/3 horned at least, but not this time. Fortunately I have disbudded everyone so far.
My hiking partner has all horned so we go with about half and half. Everyone does fine together.
 

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Hi Carolyn

I would have been interested in a couple, but hoping for next year, and hopefully will be closer for shipping or picking up.

Re: to a firearm for woods etc, I have a .380 for carrying around but in the woods its a 1911 .45 ACP, have met too many bears while doing stream surveys in years gone by, most they moved away, a couple I moved away, but there was one I didnt know if I was going to be able to, I dont want to make a goat buffet for them so I will carry.
 

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My husband and I are packgoat beginners. We purchased two Oberhasli's that we have had such fun with. Because we have several dogs and kids here we chose the hornless route; although we struggled with it awhile. Our goats were disbudded early but grew scurs. We had them disbudded again and the scurs reterned; sharp little points. We then took them to the vet who, with a local anesthetic, dug them out. It was awful and I would never ever want to do that again. It's been a week and they are sore but fine now. It's done and we all lived through it but it was heartbreaking...
 

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My wife and I just got our first goats this past winter and, like many first-timers, we struggled with the horns/no horns debate. We ultimately opted to go with horns, with the understanding that we would have to be especially careful when working around their heads to prevent accidents. So far so good.

I was interested in a couple of the comments made in earlier posts. One had to do with waiting until the goats were older (didn't say how much older) before castrating. We just got ours done last week when they turned 4 months old. Their horns were already looking quite impressive and their foreheads were noticeably thick and heavy. I wonder how much more developed their horns would have become if we'd waited another month or two before castrating? (we opted to do it now because they were really starting to smell "goaty").

Another comment had to do with goats using their horns to defend against dogs. We have 3 dogs and the goats are so used to them that they pretty much ignore them most of the time, but sometimes when we are out on a walk and one of the dogs gets too close to the goats one of them will lower his head and butt the dog out of the way. The dogs seem pretty intimidated by the goats! (for the record, we have a pit bull puppy, a newfoundland, and a red healer).

It so happens that we live in a neighborhood where many of the neighbors let their dogs run loose so there are often 2 or 3 of them hanging around. The goats mostly ignore them too, but several times I've witnessed our young kid goats chasing or butting these strange dogs too! While I'm happy that our goats don't immediately flee in fright at the sight of a dog (and risk provoking a "prey response" in the dog) I worry that their casual attitude towards a potential predator might put them at risk should a genuinely aggressive dog try to attack them (note: the goats are never left out unsupervised: they are kept in a dog proof fenced area when we're at work, and either my wife or I are always close at hand when they are let out to graze).
 

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I had a goat with horns she would use them on my sheep. she did some damage to one. then i found her cought in the fence nearly dead and that was enough for me. I took two green Cheerios (bands for castrating) and put them on her horns and they came off about three months later.
I have No horns on any of my goats.
 

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Bwana Ken said:
I wonder how much more developed their horns would have become if we'd waited another month or two before castrating? (we opted to do it now because they were really starting to smell "goaty").


Horn development after castration at different ages:

top left: castrated with 2 years, now 4 years old
top right, down left: castrated with 1,5 years
down right in front: castrated with 6 months but now 8 years old

As you can see, the wether that has been castrated with 2 years has already longer horns than the 8 year old wether that has been castrated much younger.

Should you wonder about the arrows pointing - I've posted these pictures on another forum where we were discussing how/if/what one could detect from the growth lines in the horns. I found that all of my late castrated wethers have this "knob" that more or less corresponds to the age (and length of horn) when puberty set in.
 

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and if you look closely here - this could be a marker of the castration: 3 of these wethers (top right, below right and left) have been castrated approx. 3 months and the one in the foto top left 1,5 years before I took these pictures. If you take the horn growth into consideration, castration could explain why all of them have this mark.
 

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We own goats for milk. All of our does are de-horned. The weathers that we have for work are all de-horned for safety reasons. We have heard to many horror stories of injuries to people as well as goats.

Although horns are beautiful, to us it is not worth the risk. If you are worried about protection get a dog or a donkey.
 

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Donkeys are not all of that handy for pack trips, goats are more economical. Goats pretty much feed themselves on browse, no grain to have to pack with goats.

Here in NE Wa besides an occasional lone wolf we have coyotes, mtn lions, and we are on the SW range of a two state grizzly bear area.

So when I am out with my guys the horns are something to at least let a predator think about it , while I am unholstering my Service .45.

While on a trail break the nearest available set of horns makes a good place to hang a hat too.
 

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I am pretty new to goats but I started with goats that didn't have horns and now I only have the ones left that do have them. I like the horns for a couple of reasons. I like that the goats are not affraid to stand up for their selves with horns. Often I hike with my black lab and if he makes the mistake of coming up to the trail behind the goats, the dehorned goats would run. If he comes up behind the horned goats they stop and stand their ground. My dog would never hurt them but I was really interested in the difference between the two. The other thing I like is no disbudding. Often I had the horns grow back after disbudding and I had to have it done again. The down side is that you have to be more careful around them, and my family is intimitated. My family is getting used to them, and I decided horns is worth the trade off.

PS I don't like having both together because my disbudded goats reminded me of an old kicked dog. They always get the boot.
 

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My guy's are poled so I didn't have mutch choice but it works out well with my daughters thay are five and seven so horns would be eye level

But I love horns and thay look awesome and someday I will have horned goats :)
 

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GoatGirl96 said:
We have heard too many horror stories of injuries to people as well as goats.
Ok. I have been around for a couple years and I have yet to hear a horror story of a goat, horned or not.

The only death attributed to a goat was an old preacher who was found with the goat lead around his neck. Even then it was only the one who found him that said the goat did it, as the autopsy said he had a heart attack.

I have been accidentally stepped on, and had fingers pinched, and even been knocked once or twice while a goat was responding to another goat in close proximity. None of these 'injuries' required medical attention, and certainly were much less than a similar event with a horse, for instance.

Does anyone actually have first hand knowledge of a serious injury to a person from a pack goat? (Not just some nearly wild Billy).
 

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I have heard of people hit in the eyes, and with four broken ribs on an adult man from a pet buck with horns who got annoyed at him. (a disbudded goat could not have broken his ribs, since the buck did it with his horns) We have had lots of bruises, some nasty scrapes, and very nearly horns in our eyes on many occasions with our tame horned goats, because we are veyr close and personal with our goats - all of our tame does, bucks and wethers are effectively pets, so they follow us around, love pats, and we don't keep any sort of distance from them.
I have also heard of many more broken bones and serious sprains from horns, on top of many bruises and other injuries. We ourselves haven't gotten much more serious than heavy bruising and knocks in the eye sockets, plus scrapes and cuts. The ones I have heard of aren't neccesarily pack goats, mostly pets or just tame goats.
We have around half a dozen horned and half a dozen who had horns but they were ringed, in addition to the two dozen or so disbudded goats. The ones with horns without rings only have them because they are fleece goats, who are show quality but are meant to have horns for the show ring, plus they are little and not really tame (several are outright wild) and not being milked so not too much worry about the horns - they still are very mean often to the other goats, including each other, but since they are a group they normally stick together a bit away from the rest of the goats. (since we've got so many, they're normally spread over 100m or so, even at night)
However, every horned goat we've got has done something with their horns at least once to make we want to take them off. I have yet to meet a horned goat who is really well-behaved around weaker/vunerable goats, and doesn't use their horns rather recklessly when in a hurry.
Cheers,
Cazz
 

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A lot of pet goats are actually encouraged to butt. There is a guy here who goes out every morning with a football helmet on to challenge the goat. (No Rex, not me ;-) )

I am hoping to eliminate the urban legends and get to document-able cases of serious injury by pack goats.

I think they are rare and that our animals get tagged with the reputation of other types of goats. Heck, Monty Python had a goat tearing at a man's neck.... oh, no that was a rabbit. ;-)

Even when a goat is reared up to come down full force in a butt, they don't kick like a deer will. (That's another story) and a single hand on a horn will guide him safely to the ground without injury to either party.

The strength in their necks is for a downward strike, not an upward goring like an ox.

I've never heard of a serious bite by a goat, unlike the alpaca that tore it's owners calf off his leg a couple years ago in Magna.
 
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