This is such a hot topic in the goat community. It’s a pretty controversial subject. There are people in favor of dehorning and there are those against it. So, I am just going to give you the facts and you can decide whether or not you want to have it done.

Goats use their horns to thermo-regulate. This means that their horns are a big component in controlling their body temperature. Horns are useful for their defense against predators as well as their herd. Goats, if bottle raised, well cared for, and disciplined by humans, will not use their horns against humans intentionally. Horns do create a natural “danger” to people, there is always the potential for a goat to poke you with its horns, but it almost always is accidental. Particularly with goats that have wide horn structures such as Boers and Kikos, they can move past you on the trail or in the pasture and catch you inadvertently. This is not necessarily a reason to dehorn but is something to be aware of. The great majority of these instances can be avoided by exercising spatial awareness.

The dehorning process is very painful for a baby goat. It’s cauterizing the core of the horns to stop the growth completely. The problem is, if it is not done properly it can cause scurs. Scurs are when a portion of the horn still grows after the goat has been de-budded. It will be fragile and if snagged can break and cause excessive bleeding.[video_embed url=”https://youtu.be/qldNG_lCQ04″]

Reasons to keep horns

If you use goats as a pack animal or companion to other stock animals I highly recommend keeping their horns. As a ruminant, prey species, a goat’s only line of defense is their horns. In addition, a goat as a packer works really hard and their horns regulate their body temperature. Again, this is just my recommendation.


Reasons to dehorn

If you use your dairy goat as a 4H or other show animal, it has been required for you to disbud the horns. Recently in 2021, some of the 4H committees are revising their programs and allowing the Pack Goat portion to maintain their horns for show. Meat goats, that are used to show animals are not required to be disbudded. Another reason you may consider disbudding horns is if you are seriously worried about getting poked by a horn.

Now that you know the facts, you can decide for yourself what you want to do. I will always recommend that you keep them, but again it’s ultimately your decision.

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