Tuesday, July 21, 2015

One less horned goat

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.


  1. Carolyn, ya gotta do what ya gotta do......to protect yourself and family and the other goats

  2. In my mind, it was either getting rid of MamaGoat or doing what you did. It may be true she had some discomfort (to what extent, it would be hard to determine) during the process, but several of the other goats, and humans, suffered because of her horns. Knowing your love of the animals and general vetting (is that a word?) knowledge, I'm sure you monitored and took good care of her during the whole process.

    Thanks for sharing.

  3. I will admit to banding my goats' horns, thanks to a botched dehorning job by the breeder's 8 year old son (!!) It worked out well, did not bother them after the first day or two, and they did not get their noggins caught in the fence again. Like you said, it is your farm, your livestock and your choice. Poop to everyone else.

  4. Carolyn,

    If I owned goats, and they were older with horns, I would have done the same thing in order to protect the humans, and other goats on the property.
    Your goat is okay medically, the humans, and your other goats are safe. All I have to say is right on girl!!!!

  5. Funny, even cows with horns are more aggressive and use them to shove others around. You did the right thing. Now will all her babies still have horns? I know the neighbor's horned bull who lived on the farm for a long while has left behind some horned offspring. Not full size but horns nevertheless.

  6. I am pleased it worked!
    Listening to the naysayers will only make you crazy!
    Plus most of them are city dwellers who have no CLUE!
    Happy goat makes for a Happy owner!

  7. Sounds reasonable. Sometimes you have to adapt things to work. Better than butchering her!

  8. I always wondered about banding goat horns. I bet it causes less stress than cutting them off. I know people who have done this. I think, if I get goats ever again, I'll have to try banding.

  9. I am happy banding worked.
    I do admire your courage to share your experience.