Goat Horns

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Goat Horns

Post by Farrier1987 » Fri Jan 29, 2016 12:44 pm

So you are ready to get goats. You have a fence. You have discussed what it is you envisage your new animals adding to your life, milk, meat, pet, high blood pressure, fence fixing skills, etc. Now its time to decide on what particular goat.
Oops, not yet. Do you want a goat with horns or not?

Goats naturally have horns. There are some that are polled, meaning the horn gene is lacking, and they never grow horns, but in the general goat world, they have horns.

People view horns in different ways. I want my goat to be natural. I want my goat to be able to defend itself. Dehorning causes them pain. Or: Horns are dangerous weapons that can hurt me and other goats and help them escape. Growing horns requires extra nutrients. Both views can be valid.

Goats are said to have first been domesticated somewhere in the mountain areas of Turkey or Iraq probably about ten thousand years ago. Certainly, before domestication, they needed the horns as a defense and they played a part in mating rituals or fighting of other possible mates.

As is the case for all horned and antlered animas, there is another purpose. They play part of the body’s heat regulation processes, especially cooling.

In deer, moose and other antlered animals, they developed in northern temperate climates. During the hot season, blood circulating through the antler acts as a radiator allowing cooling. The antler dries up and later falls off by the cold season to conserve heat. They grow new set for the next hot season.
Goats, sheep and other horned animals, come from warmer areas of the globe, so losing heat can be very important. Say in the middle of the desert. Like the growing antler, there is blood circulating through the horn. The horn grows from a base on the skull called the corium. The corium is well supplied with blood vessels, to nourish the horn and to circulate blood. The horn is very similar to hoof material and your finger nails. And the horn grows from the edges, sort of like a donut. And as they grow, a hollow part grows up with the horn. So in an older animal, there is the outer sheath that you see as horn, a layer of blood vessels, then a hollow sinus. That hollow part is connected to their internal sinuses in the skull, and the blood flow to the horn and breathing rates allows them to regulate body heat. The horn sort of becomes a radiator, and the rate of blood flow past it lets the body give off more or less heat.

So you should decide before you ever get goats, horns or no horns? I don’t want them to be able to hurt me or the other goats around them, or to rip at the fences and trees with their horns. There aren’t many wolves or bears in my area, and I do my best to protect them. And the temperature here midsummer does not approach desert temperatures, so cooling should not be a real problem and heat retention in the winter is better. They will fight and mate with or without horns. So for me, here, no horns is my decision.

I dehorn within a week of birth, and I won’t buy a goat that has horns. Though I will allow breeding with a horned billy, if someone else owns him and he has the other characteristics I want. I don’t want some with and some without, as it allows and fosters more bullying in the herd.

But why decide before you buy? If I buy a lovely goat with horns, can’t I just get it dehorned? Well, yes you can. With a lot of blood and pain, maybe infections and leaving that sinus open for months while it heals shut, and maybe the odd infection in there. I don’t like it. If you really want to do this, there are many resources on the net, or your vet.
Dehorning at a week old is not nice either. It hurts them, it hurts me to do it, but it is done for the greater good when it is the least traumatic physically, and a couple days later, they don’t even seem to know it was done. Again, a vet or the net can tell you much more about the actual methods to do the job.

So, where are we? You have built a fence, you have decided what you want from your goat. You have thought about and decided whether to have goats with horns or not. Next, you will want to look at breeds and their characteristics and decide what might suit you. That will be the next post.
Farrier1987. South of Chatham on Lake Erie. Chickens, goats, horse, garden, dog, cat. Worked all over the world. Know a little bit about a lot of things. No incubator, broody hens.

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Re: Goat Horns

Post by Mardi » Fri Jan 29, 2016 1:28 pm

doubt I will ever own goats, but enjoying the information

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Re: Goat Horns

Post by Killerbunny » Fri Jan 29, 2016 2:00 pm

We used to know a goat called Jessica, sweet animal, had horns. She would snuggle sweetly up to the guys (she could recognise them). Once they were nicely relaxed she would put the base of her horns in their crotch and twist! We think she found it amusing.
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Re: Goat Horns

Post by ross » Fri Jan 29, 2016 3:10 pm

Haha .. All womenfolk do .:-(

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Re: Goat Horns

Post by The Goatlady » Sat Jan 30, 2016 12:00 am

:good post: good writing on the subject...l am very impressed. ..The Goatlady

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Re: Goat Horns

Post by scottishpet » Fri Feb 09, 2018 2:11 pm

Great Info...well written! Thanks so much!!

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Re: Goat Horns

Post by KimChick » Fri Feb 09, 2018 9:22 pm

Goats are another animal that we are interested in acquiring for meat. Still have lots to learn, though!
We have found out recently that some goats do respect an electric fence..... but probably if they cannot jump over it.
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