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Do you prefer Horned or De-horned goats for packing

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ryorkies, I ring our horned goats' horns with the same rings used to castrate goats in order to remove the horns. There are a lot of people who are against the idea (some having tried it, many/most never having tried it) because they believe it to be cruel or dangerous, but it has worked extremely well for us, (even with our first few, where it was a bit trial and error with only a suggestion to put rings on their horns to guide us) and I have since 'disbudded'/dehorned heaps of goats with rings, many going on to new homes where the new owners would not have bought them with horns, and who love them without the horns. I have written several (or rather, many) huge posts on ringing horns, as I have rather perfected the technique, having used it a lot, and many people are interested. (however some people may tell you I wrote so much because I am a loud mouth ;) )
Anyway, feel free to look the posts up, or I can post links, or PM me if you'd like any more information.

As I have said elsewhere, I have found it very safe and effective, only problem is when someone doesn't do it right (or has a sensitive goat and soft heart :( ) and then goes telling everyone else it doesn't work. :) I currently have three goats with rings on their horns (one of them has only one horn) and another two that I have been looking after for a friend and had ringed their horns just recently went home (one lost both her horns a year or so ago, as did a third who went home a few days before, and the other now has one horn) plus we have another three who used to have horns and just sold a fourth- who I had taken the horns off - last week. I have taken the horns off friends goats' for them since her bigger horned goats were very mean to the others, and had given them bad limps and bruises before. Those goats are now very gentle and sweet, and the friends (surprising even to me) think that ringing is more humane than disbudding and prefer for them or me to ring their goats horns than for me to disbud them! (and no, most of their goats who have had their horns ringed didn't even notice :) )
Before I finish talking your ear off, I'll finish up. :p
As above, feel free to look up my posts or PM me, or reply with any questions. :)
Just another note Rex... The friends above also suspect some of their goats killed another one, who had gotten caught by her horns in a tree, and another person I know has a horned goat for sale since it has killed at least one other of her goats :( .
Cheers,
Cazz
 

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www.packgoatforum.com/viewtopic.php?f=26&t=585 is one of the first ones I posted in, (it was actually the one topic which made me join this forum in the first place) there were many replies posted before me so you can see both sides of the 'debate' and I have also posted heaps of photos on there. I now have heaps more photos, (plus more experience ;) ) having done heaps more goats, so I can post more in a new topic if you like.
Cheers,
Cazz
 

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Someone said that autopsies show that debudding the goat with heat actually damages part of the brain. They didn't mention which brain, that of the goat or the debudder. ;-)

I would think that ringing would be better. Unless of course you had a goat that needed something like a lobotomy.
 

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Hi Bob,
I'm not sure if that is normal disbudding, but I do know that disbudding for too long at too high a temperature can have a very bad effect and some people have had tiny kids die after being disbudding. :( A relative of mine had triplet kids from a miniature doe disbudded very young, and the smallest died. Whish, I think, is the same with anything - you've got to be careful not to over-do it.
With the disbudder's brain, my family will tell you I have a damaged brain anyway, which makes me talk and laugh a lot, but maybe that's just because they want someone to pick on. :lol: After watching/holding many kids while they are being disbudded, you get calm and experienced, so you aren't traumatized after disbudding your own. :p

I would recommend disbudding over ringing, for a few reasons.

One: with disbudding, the kid is very small and is perfectly fine straight after. (I disbud my own and other people's goat kids, and they are all fine anyway) With ringing, the goat is often adult, has a much better memory, and has a sore head for the obvious reason that a decent-sized part of their anatomy has been removed.

Two: with disbudding, it is all over in minutes. With ringing, the horns can take two months to come off, and then another few days until is is properly scabbed over.

Three: with disbudding, it is a lot easier to ensure no scurs afterwards. With ringing, incorrect procedures can see large scurs growing. However, as with disbudding, it can be redone - it's just if the owner doesn't, you can end up with big unsightly scurs in a badly-ringed goat.

Four: with disbudding, the goat can always fight fine afterwards. With rings, the goat often is wary of fighting for a while (which is actually a huge plus for mean goats) and often has to learn new techniques of fighting. Although, as I mentioned, this is a huge positive for mean or dangerous goats, if you have a sweet goat who is just a little bossy with her horns and easily able to damage someone, after her horns have come off, she may be very low in rank for up to several months. If you have plenty of space and/or no other mean goats, this is fine, but it is something to be considered.

So, from my point of view, I would normally rather disbud, but ringing is very helpful and useful, and I really wish some mean disbudded goats had horns so I could ring them and they would learn not to be mean anymore. :roll:

Cheers,
Cazz
 

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Re: De-horning

Cazz,

You mentioned in one of your posts that you sedate the goat when you ring it. What do you use?
 

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Hi Taffy,
We have actually never sedated our goats, but I found on one website they used a local anaesthetic just below the horns, because they actually cut the skin and placed the ring into the slit. That would actually be more effective, since it would get all of the horn below the surface, but we don't have any anaesthetic, and from what I've found, can't get it from the vet's or anywhere. (they would have to come out and do it, which would cost a fortune in travel and time, and don't know if they would be willing to anyway without doing the whole 'operation' themselves - not that they even know how to do it I don't think)

I think I bookmarked the page on another computer, so no idea where it is. :( It was a Boer stud in the USA, it could be the one someone posted a link to a few days ago, but I can't remember sorry! :?
I heave heard of some people using herbs for pain killer, (like when they castrate them) but we haven't had need to and if the goat is upset, we just feed them yummy stuff until the soreness goes away. Some goats don't seem to feel anything, don't even notice, and just walk off and start eating. Some will just shake their heads a bit, and some will actually be pretty sore, and they are the ones we make sure we've got nice hay/branches/grain for. The longest I've had any goat sore/upset for was less than an hour, and afterwards they are fine again.
Cheers,
Cazz
 

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I kinda want to try the ringing on Sully. He has a scur that
grows. Then gets broke off at least once a year. Blood every where. So thought maybe I could ring it to completely remove it.

Julio does like to use his horns on Sully. I may want to ring him. He is 2 years old. Once I get a elastorator(sp)
I will be wanting the links to your posts.
 

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I like Julios horns. But they are sharp.
I was just reading about tipping them.
(snipping off the end and filing)
Then you still have the horns but they
are not as sharp.
Does anyone know anything about this
method?
 

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Yes, we've gotten several goats who have been 'tipped'. The main thing to be careful of is not cuttig too far - even a big horn won't have much 'bloodless' length at the end, so you can't take much off. Some people file the horns down regularly from birth, and the goat ends up with way smaller and very blunt horns, or you can use hoof-trimmers to cut off a bit from the ends and then file the ends when the goat is already big. Taking a little at a time you will be able to see when you are getting close to the blood in the same way as when trimming white hooves - you can see the pink through the horn.
It works fine if you are trying to avert accidental injury from the sharpness, but the goats we have gotten with 'tipped' horns were just as mean (picking the other goats up with their horns under the other's belly and throwing them through the air) so you still need to be careful.
Good luck and have fun. :p
Cheers,
Cazz
 

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Dave (TDG Farms) S.E. Washington State
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Chiming in a little late but figured Id do it anyways. As a registered dairy goat owner/breeder, you are required to dis bud your animals in order to show them Which makes total sense. But even if that were not so, we would still dis bud them. We have roughly 50-100 goats (depending upon the time of year) and it would be a blood bath if they were not all dis budded.

Goat herds maintain a hierarchy through a very strict pecking order. And that order is every changing with younger does moving up in the ranks. Fights are rarely far and are more often then not, 1 vs 4 or 6 or more. With a few giving cheap shots while the main combatants are focused on each other. So, for herd live, horns are an absolute NO.

Another reason for no horns, at least the first year (as mentioned above) fencing. Grass is always greener on the other side of the fence and its amazing how well horns slide through a fence but require you to cut the fence to get them out. And if you are not there to save the goat, they often kill themselves trying to free themselves.

Breeding bucks should never have horns. Also mentioned above, when in rut, a buck can and will turn on anyone at anytime. A sweet calm passive buck in the off season, can be a raging jerk while in rut.

NOW, when applying this question to packers, I prefer them (so far). Granted, a special pen and feeder needs to be used in our case as we use rail type feeders that allow the does to move left to right. Much like a wood horse fence. But once the horns are large enough not to get caught in say field fencing or cattle / combo panels, life is a bit easier.

Reason why I prefer them.
1. A goat KNOWS when it has horns. For this reason alone, a goat would be more willing to defend itself, even if that defense maybe pointless in regards to most predators. A goats natural reaction to a predator is to run. Even a wiener dog can set a herd of goats running and fleeing for their lives! :)
2. The possible advantages of the horns working as radiators. Horns are hollow at the core. If you de horn a larger animal, you will actually be able to see straight down the hole and out the nose. There is a artery that supplies blood to the horns. So makes sense that as they breath in, the horns could dissipate some heat.
3. And as mentioned above, they look cool. Gives a pack goat mo jo :)

For those who have issues with horns on their goats, I am not sure if this would work with older animals, but all my prospects are trained to sit and enjoy their horns being touched. As I am scratching a cheek or a shoulder blade or under the chin (preferably the spot that makes them freeze) , I am with the other hand petting, rubbing and scratching around and on the horn itself. I also use this time to gently rub their eyes. After maybe a weeks time, they will allow me to do anything to their horns and even their eyes. I can grab them by a horn to move them aside with no ill effect because they relate the touching of the horn with affection. Now, this is not to say they will not use their horns catch a piece of clothes or poke you in the butt to get your attention, just that when I chose to touch them, they are totally passive about it.
On a side note, its ok to spoil your goat, but if you allow it to behave badly, even just a few time, thats all it takes to turn a good goat bad. They same way goats test fences, they test their people. You must be like a fence they can not escape through.
 

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Discussion Starter #72
Dave said:
We have roughly 50-100 goats (depending upon the time of year) and it would be a blood bath if they were not all dis budded.

Goat herds maintain a hierarchy through a very strict pecking order. And that order is every changing with younger does moving up in the ranks. Fights are rarely far and are more often then not, 1 vs 4 or 6 or more. With a few giving cheap shots while the main combatants are focused on each other. So, for herd live, horns are an absolute NO.

Another reason for no horns, at least the first year (as mentioned above) fencing. Grass is always greener on the other side of the fence and its amazing how well horns slide through a fence but require you to cut the fence to get them out. And if you are not there to save the goat, they often kill themselves trying to free themselves.

Breeding bucks should never have horns. Also mentioned above, when in rut, a buck can and will turn on anyone at anytime. A sweet calm passive buck in the off season, can be a raging jerk while in rut.
I have to respectfully disagree with you Dave. We have had 50 goats at a time all with horns and never had a blood bath. In fact it was a rare even to have a scratch on any of the goats.

All of our kids had horns and in the beginning they get their heads stuck. We have raised hundreds of kids with horns and none ever died from getting its head stuck. We have never had to cut a fence to get them out. The trick is to pull their head through far enough to tip their nost back against their neck at which point you can slide their head back through the fence. It was something we did for a few weeks each year when their horns were a certain size. Many of them even figured out how to get their own heads out of the fence. I'm sure someone has lost a goat to getting its head stuck but it isn't a common thing.

We bred goats for over a decade with horned bucks and de-horned does. There was never ever a problem. Our bucks were treated like any of our goats. If they misbehaved, no matter the time of the year, they were dealt with accordingly and responded positively.

I do agree that does should be disbudded. A horn to the udder can easily cause mastitus or other problem. Easily avoided with all disbugged does penned seperately from the boys with horns.
 

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Dave (TDG Farms) S.E. Washington State
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Sounds like you have had a good run of it Rex. In my experience, it never turned out well. I started in goats working on a commercial farm with 300+ head and it was nearly a daily event, butcher kids getting their heads stuck in the fences during that curtain time when the horns are the right size. As we didnt kid out all at the same time, this would last for 4-6 months. Now I will say, Nubians were totally different in regards to fighting. They just dont. Saanens are fairly passive as well. But the Alpines and Lamanchas were pretty much always battling. During the hot months, they wait till the sun sets and then start up.

Here on my farm, most days sees a testing of rank by a couple of goats. Butcher kids will pick up other kids with their horns with a quick upward thrust. We house 2 breeding bucks per pen and they two like to test each other. So here at least, horns would be a very bad idea. Say,

Rex, what kinda acreage you running em on and what kinda landscape? Might be more a case of boredom here the accusal temperament. S.E. Washington is kinda a desert and the only people who get water rights are the vineyards and large produce farmers. So our lil piece of heaven is flat and dry during the summer months.
 

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Discussion Starter #74
Yes housing would make a big difference. We have them on about 5 acres of pasture so they can scatter out a bit. It stays green with plenty of browse so they aren't packed in the barn which is where most of the trouble happens. Now a days we only have 4 goats in there so they really have some elbow room. ;)
 

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Dave (TDG Farms) S.E. Washington State
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Oh how I would love a green pasture. We too have 5 acres. We were going to water regardless of the no water rights as many small farmers do, but we pretty much missed water with our well. At 500 feet deep we get 10-12 and the pump guy thought it best to restrick us to 6 gallons a min so not to run it dry... going to change that soon as we are planning to plant at least 1 maybe 2 acres in a buffalo grass mix and just water that area once a week. If we are just able to keep a 75 foot row of grass between the house and the pasture to keep the dust down, that would be good with us. But you're correct in that the trouble starts in the pen area. We lock up our goats every night in a pen that is 6 combo panels long and 4 wide. They have shelters at t he back of the run that we use for a back wall between the pen and the pasture, a 12' x 20' loafing area in the barn and 2, 8'x24' leans toos off each side of the main barn. So the girls are more then content to chillax in this area. They do head out into the pasture several times a day but with spring over, what little green there was out there is gone.
 

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I voted hornless but LOVE the looks and thoughts of horned.

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").

Shannon
Goat Tracks Magazine
Your thoughts almost exactly echo one of my pack goat "mentors" (15 years experienced.) Your doc experience with the horned defending the hornless mirrors what happened to him as well, he tells me that the horned were the most chewed up. He has all but eliminated horned from his herd with so many up & coming grandchildren. His horned are not to hard on his hornless but...they are out numbered 7:1 in favor of the hornless.

I realize your post is from a some time ago...but you mentioned that you have a mixed herd; I am curious for those of you with mixed herds what are your ratios of horned to hornless? How well are they getting along? I suspect if the ratios are severely in favor of horned it leaves the hornless constantly "looking over the shoulder" as one of my pack goat "mentors tells me. If it is in favor of the hornless, than those are the herds that have less issues. Looking forward to the responses...

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.
That seems to be evident from many on this thread. Both of my goat packing "mentors" have told me if they were starting over they would go hornless. It seems that its pretty tough to change once you are committed one way or the other...or at least it can complicate an existing dynamic.

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!)
This thoughts make a great deal of sense to me, thx for your comments. (everyone's actually) Read your post on ringing too, very interesting.

LOVE the beauty of horns but we have decided to go hornless with starting our herd.

Thx,

TOU
 

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The Goat Whisperer
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I prefer horns but I have both that I pack with the horns help keep them cooler on the hot summer hikes and they can defend them self’s against praetors and they look cool.
 

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I love the look of the horns but for me at this point in life (with young kids) I prefer no horns.


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Kenna Marar
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I prefer horned goats, polled is fine too. I really don't like goats being disbudded or dehorned because the handlers don't want to deal with their animals without mutilating them. There are some cases where horns do need to be removed though.
 
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