I've paid for my mistakes in bringing horned goats into our herd. Nettie almost died from a horn related injury to her udder a year & a half ago. I've also been dealt blows with those horns, and although probably unintentional, they still hurt like hell and left nasty bruises. And even though I've told Rhiannon that she is not allowed to go near the horned goats, they don't listen, especially when they suspect you may have something yummy to eat.
I've sold two of the horned goats that I acquired in the last year or so, but still had Lily & Herman the Boers, and MamaGoat, the Mini-Saanen that just so happens to now be my heaviest milker. She also happened to be the meanest little shit because she had horns...and knew how to use them, even on the bigger goats.
I was at my wit's end earlier in the kidding season. I saw MamaGoat toss other kids across the yard with those damned horns. I saw her ambush other goats and gouge them in the side, seemingly "just because". And her horns weren't the ones that rolled back behind her head. Oh no. They were straight and pointy (although they had been previously "tipped") and you'd better mind your eyeballs or there was the distinct possibility that she'd end up popping one of them out if you bent over to her and she spooked.
But darn it. She was my best milker. And apparently I'm heartless and selfish and cruel. Because I didn't butcher her or sell her to a horned herd owner; she's still on the homestead. What I did was, according to some, a horrible, horrible thing. I banded her horns.
I've always said that I wanted this blog to be truthful, no matter how embarrassing or ignorant or stupid my actions (the ones that I tell you about, that is) may be. Because I honestly believe that everything is a learning opportunity. Some of those lessons are best learned personally, other best learned by other people's mistakes (say for example, swimming in shark infested waters wearing a meat necklace). So that is why I will open my blog to the shaming or finger pointing or angry comments that may ensue after this is posted. And although I am always open and willing to hear other's opinions or experiences, I will not tolerate the unoriginal comments like "You're a meanie" or "You're a murderer" kinda stuff. Because you know what? It's my blog. It's my life. And if you don't like what I'm doing you can simply unsubscribe and go look at funny cat pictures.
Heck, let's all look at funny cat pictures, no matter what you think of my blog. Because cats are awesome.
Anyways. Back to the banding.
I've read other blogs and livestock threads where people have used bands in order to remove the horns off their goats. I've mulled it over. I've agonized over it. I've gone back & forth and finally just said, "Screw it" and I had Paul help me band MamaGoat's horns.
Basically, it went like this;
During feeding time when everyone is clipped to the fence at their respective feeding stations, I held MamaGoat's head firmly while Paul used a file to make a groove in MamaGoat's horns as close to her skull as was possible. It only took a few well-placed and firm passes and a nice, bloodless groove was made into the horn. Paul then used the elastrator to slip on a castrating band and fit it into the groove. Same thing with the other side.
About four weeks later, Paul came into the house and told me that MamaGoat's horn was hanging. We both went back out there and snipped some sort of connective tissue off to release the horn. There was blood, and it looked pretty bad, but only because she's white and a small stream had dripped down her face. She was more freaked out by the hanging horn than anything. We put some blood stop powder on it and life went on. She kept to herself for the next day or so, but she was eating grain and hay as normal.
A week and a half later, I went out in the morning to milk her and she didn't come running as usual. I hand a hankering that she lost her other horn and I was correct. She was under the barn, some fresh blood on her skull, and now totally hornless. She felt well enough that I was able to tempt her from underneath the barn with some fresh greenery, she hopped up on the milk stanchion, I milked her, and life went on.
She is no longer the meanie she once was. And as of yet, I have not seen any distressing signs from the banding. Not saying that something might happen in the future. Not saying that this wasn't a traumatic event for her. Not even saying that this is what everyone should do if you don't want horns on your goat herd.
But it's what I did and it seems to have worked. I don't have to worry about Rhiannon getting her eye gouged out, I don't have to worry about MamaGoat getting her horns stuck in the cattle panel fence and I don't have to worry about baby goats being gored to death by a little goat with a big (horned) attitude.