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Horns are cracking and peeling? (10 week alpine bucks)

6161 Views 8 Replies 3 Participants Last post by  Damfino
My 10wk old alpine bucks are both having issues with their horns. I got them when they were 8wks, both had slightly flaky horns when I picked them up but I figured it was normal/a sign of having been sick (both had sore mouth at 4 weeks old, were clear for over a week before I picked them up). Now one of them is having a lot of peeling/flaking on the top half of his horn and I'm concerned because it seems to be spreading down his horn, and one of his horns even looks like it's starting to whittle away.
The other one (an ober/alpine cross, also 10 wks) horns are not really peeling or flaking any more, but they're growing in with very noticeable rings about every inch or so. The rings look like cracks but they don't seem very deep.
HOWEVER, this morning when I went out to give bottles, he had a deep crack down close to his skull, about 1/2 inch long and maybe 1/16 inch deep, and it had filled with a blood clot (didn't appear to have bled when it cracked, no drips anywhere). He has a similar crack on the back of the other horn. I put iodine on it and bandaged it this morning. When I took the bandage off a few minutes ago it looks much better.

My questions are:
Why is this happening?
Should I be concerned?
Is there something I can do to help strengthen their horns?
Should I put some sort of sealant on their horns to prevent the breaks from getting worse?

I was planning to band both boys at 14 weeks, but now I'm concerned about their horns and thinking maybe I should wait longer. They have free access to alfalfa, grain, mineral, baking soda, and water all the time. I treated for coccidia with toltrazuril about 4 days ago. Fecal came back clear at 9 weeks. Any ideas about whats happening here? Pics below.

Dog Working animal Dog breed Carnivore Fawn

Alpine buck's horns from front (this is the one with flaking/peeling issue)

Vertebrate Mammal Fawn Whiskers Snout

Alpine buck's horns from the side

Plant Grass Fawn Wood Fence

Alpine buck's horns from the back. You can see how the cracking and flaking has gone all the way around one of his horns. It looks whittled down.

Dog Carnivore Working animal Companion dog Whiskers
Ober/Alpine buck's horns. You can see the rings. The area circled in red is where the deeper crack w/blood is.

Mammal Ear Dog breed Liver Fawn

Close up of the crack. He was moving around a lot so it was hard to get a clear picture, sorry.

Hand Leg Human body Dog breed Working animal

Close up of the crack after a few hours. You can also see how dramatic the rings in his horn are.

Any help is appreciated!
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Good news! This is completely normal and expected! The "baby" horns are soft, and at about this age the outer "shell" peels and flakes away, leaving the hard permanent core that will be with them for life. The biggest issue is that these flakes can be very sharp, and also the permanent horns themselves can be very sharp at the tips. Try not to get scratched and watch out for your eyes and face when handling goats this age. Your goats are like rambunctious little boys waving sharp sticks right now, but their horns will eventually wear down to have smooth surfaces with duller points. With consistent training they'll learn to have good horn manners around people.
Thanks! But what about the cracking in my ober/alpine's horn, down close to his skull? Are blood-filled cracks normal?
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If it split down close to the hairline, yes it can bleed a bit. Sometimes they'll even crack a little if the boys are conking heads real hard, but it's not usually something to worry about.

Here are a couple of photos of a buckling I had with a pink horn. You can clearly see the blood under the surface which looks like bruising. The purple spots went away once his horns matured. View attachment 183055 View attachment 183057
Wow, I've never heard of a "pink horned" goat. Did he develop that way naturally or was it a result of the outer keratin falling off? Btw, thanks so much for the reassurance.
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Pink horns are totally natural when they grow out of pink skin. Saanens nearly always have pink horns I believe. This goat (Crockett) had extensive white all over his face and pink skin underneath that one horn. He was sold as a breeding buck and still has one black/one pink horn, only now the pink horn is always so dirty and covered in buck grease that it's not as easy to tell apart from the dark one! I'll bet if his owners scrubbed those horns up real good they'd contrast nicely again. This is what he looked like last year as a 3-year-old. His horns obviously did not suffer permanent harm from the "flaky" phase shown in the earlier photos!

View attachment 183081 View attachment 183083
I guess I just never noticed/thought about the differences in horn color - thanks for educating me!
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