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Greetings all. I have a one year old Pygmy whether who is a companion to my 1 1/2 yr old miniature horse. I would like to cover the goat's horns with padding: pool noodles and tennis balls; but I worry about heat. When I grab his horns, they are quite warm and clearly have blood flow. I assume the horns are a natural way for goats to release heat but have found nothing online regarding the subject. I live in Southeast Texas along the Gulf. It is already in the low 90's and will get into the high 90's (sometimes 100's) this Summer. I really want to pad these suckers, but I am scared I will basically be insulating them in very hot, humid conditions. I see a lot of pictures and posts where people have used these household items on goat horns before but am not sure they are located in the same climate as I. Any insight would be greatly appreciated. By the way, the noodles are to protect his human family and prevent the frequent bruising he inflicts; the tennis balls are to protect his companion horse he recently likes to torment. (And little horse has begun biting him because of it. Today I saw him bite his actual horn.) Thank you in advance!
 

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Yes they have horns to help keep cool. I’m not sure if I would totally wrap them like you are wanting to do. I would do the tennis balls and then work on teaching him respect to keep humans from getting bruised. A few things: try a water gun first. Personally mine laughed at this but really I only had issues at feeding time or them trying to push past me getting out Gates but lots of people have had luck with the water guns. If he is hurting you guys say a command, I say BACK and then spray him. Keep at it! Carry the gun for awhile and he will start to get the hint.
Now I said I didn’t have luck with the water gun so I had to go to a hot shot with a pig attachment. But start with the water gun first ;)
 

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When I grab his horns, they are quite warm and clearly have blood flow. I assume the horns are a natural way for goats to release heat but have found nothing online regarding the subject.
You are correct and here are some links on that:

  • "[Horns] also have a thermoregulatory roll in cattle and goats. When the ambient temperature increases, the blood flow through the dermis of the horn also increases, thus facilitating heat loss through radiation from the horn surface."[link]

I've had many, many goats over the past couple of decades. Horned, disbudded and polled, and does, bucks and a wether. And only four of them were dangerous or injurious to people, one horned Alpine who cracked my wrist, two bucks and one doe. Another couple of does were safe around people but terrorized other animals, one was horned, one was disbudded. (One disbudded doe was a biter and inflicted some nasty bites on other does. One horned doe liked to act like the wether you are describing and poke and hurt other livestock.)

The problem isn't necessarily the horns. I'm not saying that horns can't be dangerous. But the chief source of the problem can be the personality or meanness of the animal itself. That same type of animal if disbudded can still inflict serious damage to another animal by biting. A thoroughly mean animal will find a way of hurting someone or another animal, horns or no horns.

Sometimes it isn't necessarily that they are mean, I've had goats that were just plain careless and rough, the kind that might accidentally step on their kids or even sit on them. But the careless ones are not doing it intentionally, and might even swing a horn at their own leg accidentally. I prefer does that are gentle and cautious mothers and most of mine will look twice before walking around their newborn kids.

And if they are excited over feed or treats that is a state of frenzy and one has to understand and allow for that.

Not all goats are that rough. Not all are dangerous to humans and not all of them inflict bruises. That would appear to be more of a personality issue. I've had Nigerian Dwarf does, a wether and intact bucks that were so calm and gentle and docile that they were perfectly safe to be around small children. They never hurt or harmed any creature. Not all goats are that docile and gentle. But even the ones who aren't do not go out of their way to cause harm. I have goats with sharp horns and they have never hurt anyone, man or beast.

Indeed, most of my goats have been very well behaved, six problem goats is a very tiny percentage over the years. Because I know that most of the goats I have had have been safe, I do not tolerate any goat that injures my family on purpose. If it happened accidentally, or in another words, not intentionally, that's another story. In the end, I culled the viciously mean animals out of my herd. And vicious is no understatement, they were not wild but would go out of their way to come up to a person or other animal and hurt them. I have never owned a Pygmy goat, but have seen many of that breed in my area and know that there are gentler Pygmy goats out there.

If we were discussing geese, that would be different. Geese are naturally protective of their flock and goslings. If were discussing cattle, that would also be another matter. A cow with a young calf can be dangerous. If we were discussing a large breed of goat, well, there are meaner bucks and wethers in certain breeds so that is an exception. Now, I mean absolutely no offense by this but I just want to dispel the myth that all goats are mean and hurt people. There are some behavior differences among the various breeds, but not that much. And not all miniature Pygmy wethers are that mean. Though there are individual exceptions.

I am glad that you are being so considerate about the wether's comfort. As for options on how to address horns, I haven't had to on account of my goats being relatively safe. But I know some people use cork. There are various sources for different thicknesses of cork online. It is a slightly more breathable option, but I'm not sure that that would work for you. (I have visited that region of Texas twice.) I love Texas, pity my camera didn't agree with me though because I couldn't take many pictures without it fogging up on account of the intense humidity. (The photos were taken in August 2015, just a visual to illustrate the humidity, it's hard to describe what the heat is like unless you've been there.)
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i thought you had roll her hair like the women did in the 60's. LOL
 

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Sounds like your little goat needs to learn some horn manners! He should not be giving you or any other people bruises. Try not to grab him by the horns. This teaches goats to fight back and use them on people. He should not ever touch you with his horns a all. A squirt bottle can be very effective at teaching him to keep his horns to himself.

I have a question: Does your goat have any other goat companions? If not, this would be one reason for his aggression toward your pony. He needs another goat companion that he can safely knock heads with. He's trying to head-butt play with the horse, but horses don't understand this and can't play back in the same way so both animals end up frustrated. I kept a goat as a horse companion for several years and experienced this exact problem.

I've not had much success keeping things attached to horns. Goats always manage to scrape horn pads off. Brass horn knobs that screw on are hard to find. However, you can at least blunt the horns by trimming the tips with hoof nippers and then filing them down with a rasp. Don't take off too much or they'll bleed. Even blunt horns are dangerous if you have an aggressive goat, but dulling them down can help cut down on accidents. Good luck!
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I have a question: Does your goat have any other goat companions? If not, this would be one reason for his aggression toward your pony. He needs another goat companion that he can safely knock heads with. He's trying to head-butt play with the horse, but horses don't understand this and can't play back in the same way so both animals end up frustrated. I kept a goat as a horse companion for several years and experienced this exact problem.

He is not actually trying to head-butt the horse (he does try with the dog, though, because the dog is more willing to try and play with him). He is going under the horse's head and lifting the horn tips intentionally, usually when I am brushing the horse and the goat wants to be brushed more. But he does it frequently enough that it's not nice! When he head-butts people, he is not using manners. I have started teaching him, "no!" Hopefully that will help with the water bottle trick - he HATES being wet! Also, we do play with him, and my husband will rough-house with him. If the goat can't tell the difference between when we want to play and when we don't, we may have to stop playing with him in that manner!

To answer your question: He does not have a goat companion. My mini horse does not have another horse companion. All my mini-horse-forum people think all horses need other horses and that I should have another one with him instead of a goat... I guess all animals would prefer to be with their own kind, and perhaps I am the selfish one in only wanting one of each species. But, my defense to that logic is that dogs run in packs in nature as well, but you don't usually hear anyone give grief to someone owning single dogs. (Not that I think you're giving grief - I truly appreciate your advice. Sounds like you have been exactly where I am now!) I feel like I give each of my animals plenty of attention, and I think for the space I have, it is healthiest to keep my menagerie of animals small.

Thank so much to everyone for your responses. I have read where people glue pool noodles to goats but really didn't think this was the best option in hot weather. Glad I asked! I'll stick with tennis balls and hope my dog doesn't think they're his toys!!!
 

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Looks like you replied inside the quote box so your reply is condensed. ;)

Yes, I have been in that same spot of having a horse and goat as companions to each other. It worked great for a while, but eventually the horse and goat both grew up and started harassing each other. My goat would intentionally stab my horse as well, and of course it made the horse mad and eventually he started attacking the goat. My goat also started in on an old mare that he could push around, and eventually it got to where the poor thing didn't have a moment's peace. I think if the goat had had a second goat companion he probably would not have begun harassing the horses and everyone could have stayed friends.

Try not to let your husband roughhouse with the goat any more. Roughhousing is one of those things that's fun until all of a sudden it's not. Dogs and people think and play in very similar ways but goats have a way all their own. They don't handle roughhousing very well without becoming angry and mean. A goat is a fighting animal by nature, so encouraging him to play rough with you is going to escalate quickly, and even a small goat is capable of breaking human bones and skulls. If he needs more "rough" play I've seen people who will bounce a beach ball back and forth with a goat. It gives him a target other than humans that he can head-butt, and you can teach him that when you put the ball away it's time to settle down. We've also taught our goats to do tricks, which is a great way to interact with them in a way that doesn't encourage aggressive behavior.

You may need to tie your goat up while you're brushing the horse so he doesn't harass and hog for attention. If that's the only time the goat is being mean then they may make good companions the rest of the time. Also be careful about letting the goat and dog play together. It sounds like your goat could injure your dog, and of course if your dog fights back he could hurt the goat as well. I wish you success in training everyone (goat, horse, dog, and humans) to get along and play nice. It can be a process. Good luck! ;)
 
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