Disclaimer : I am not a vet. Although I may suggest medications, dosages,
and treatments for animals, you should always have a vet, use a vet, and
consult a vet.
The question of how to get rid of horns on adult goats comes up
constantly. And it just so happens that I have experience in this area.
My first goats were nearly all horned, and I never had intentions of
dehorning or disbudding babies. However, after spending way too much
money and way too much time on repairing fences, I started doing both. I
have never had horns "surgically" removed, but I have heard the horror
stories from people who have had it done. The two methods that I have
used are "banding" and "cut and burn". Banding is my preferred method,
and I will explain when the need for cut and burn later in the article.
-Bands (If you didn't know this one, go ahead and find your way to the
This method is by far the easiest. And the least painful for you and
the goat. However, it needs to be done late fall or winter to combat the
fly issue. Timing is everything it takes around 60-90 days typically but
can take longer.
First you want to use the round file and file a groove around the base
of the horn just above the point
where the skin meets the horn
(you should shave the hair so you can see the base of the horn where it
meets skin). The flute
(inside between the horns) will be the most important and the thickest.
You want to file until you have gone through the outer layer of horn.
You will know when you have made it through, the goat will tell you, and
you will see it pink up like a slight abrasion does on you. It won't
bleed, but you will see white or little droplets of blood form.
Next you are going to put the bands on. You put the first one right in
the groove, then
the second you put just below the first. You want to
add a band every 30 days (try
to roll the new bands below the lowest band) until the horn falls off.
A few warnings..... I have had a few knock a horn off prematurely.
This is messy! But don't fret, just monitor it and clean the blood off
the goats face. You can put blood stop powder on if you feel it
is necessary but I don't. I don't do it for a couple of reasons. When
the horn comes off prematurely or naturally there will be a small hole
straight into the sinus cavity, not good to stuff blood stop in there.
Other than the sinus issue, There are very sensitive nerves exposed and
the goat will not appreciate you rubbing around up there.
If the horn comes off naturally typically the wound is all but healed
by the time the horn comes off. You will see a small hole but just keep
an eye on it. This process is different for each goat. Don't freak out,
it takes time, it is going to hurt to some extent, they may be "off" for a
few days, be patient and use common sense.
I need to mention that
with banding the horn will still grow, however it grows very very slow.
The lower band is actually sitting on skin.
Cut and Burn
-Bone saw (thin cable with handles on each end)
I have used this method only when necessary. It is messy, it is
painful, and it is no fun for you or the goat. When do you use this?
Usually on a botched disbudding case. A botched disbudding will often
times produce a scur-horn that is much wider than it is thick, and a band
just will not do the job. So the alternative is "cut and burn".
It is pretty simple, cut the horn off as close to the base as you can
using the bone saw. The bone saw works really well because that it pretty
much cauterizes the wound as you cut it. Then you use the disbudding iron
to burn. You burn for two reasons. One to stop any bleeding. And
secondly to stop the scur-horn from growing back. Again this is a
messy, painful job and should only be used when necessary.