There’s every chance that you’ve had to contend with different conflicting emotions to get to this point. Dehorning a goat can seem a little cruel, almost as if you’re diminishing the goat somehow. On the other hand, a goat with horns is a safety hazard to itself, its herd mates, and even you. It’s for this same reason that horned goats are not accepted at fairs. When you put all these in the balance, your decision to trim your goat’s horns is probably the correct one.
Having made this decision, it’s important to execute it flawlessly, in a way that exposes your goat to as few risks as possible. Experts advise against trimming your goat without the right qualifications and experience. In other words, a trained vet is in the best position to assist with the trimming of your goats.
However, armed with the right tools, and adequate knowledge, you can successfully dehorn your goat, without exposing it to any risk at all, and with minimal discomfort caused. That knowledge is what you’ll find in this article.
Why We Had To Trim Our Goat’s Horn
The debate among goat handlers about the rightness or otherwise of dehorning goats will understandably rage on for a while yet. For a long time, we were firmly sat on the fence, until a series of events, none more compelling than the story of Bryan, forced us to see things in a different light.
Bryan was a bubbly, rambunctious kid we got when he was four months old. His curious and affectionate personality stood out for us and it didn’t take long for him to charm everyone in the whole household, quickly becoming everyone’s favorite, even other goats! As he grew, so did his horns. It didn’t take long for them to start looking concerning, starting to curve backward, but we didn’t want anything to take away from his handsome appearance, so we were not truly worried at that point. However, we did become a bit warier around him, as his gentle nudges were becoming just a bit inconvenient.
A Danger To Everyone
His curved horns started to become dangerous to him too. He frequently got them entangled in our chain link fence and often needed help to get himself extricated. The mating season brought a dramatic mood change along with it for Bryan, and it was weird watching our normally mild kid become this aggressive and irascible dude. He wasn’t very big then, so most of the other goats gave him the brush off, but his horns did definite damage and we had to treat some other goats for their injuries. By this time, his horns had curved all the way back to his neck, causing him visible discomfort.
Things got to a head one winter. We went out one morning and returned about seven hours later, to find Bryan stuck by the horns to the fence again. He must have been stuck there for a while before we came back because he looked utterly exhausted and overjoyed to see us at the same time. That was when we decided that the horns had to go. We got them trimmed and we haven’t looked back since.
How To Trim A Goat’s Horns
Trimming a goat’s horns from time to time is a great way to keep the horns in check and ensure the goat’s safety. Think of it as trimming your nails. It’s much more painless and easy than dehorning, both on you and the goat. Before you start to trim a goat’s horns, however, ensure that you are experienced and have someone experienced close to you.
There are blood vessels within a goat’s horns, and they are attached to the goat’s skull, so extra care needs to be taken when trimming their horns. Another reason to be careful is that the goat’s horns are attached to and are part of its skull, so you don’t want to do anything that’ll put its safety at risk. The following are some of the best and safest methods to trim a goat’s horns:
A zip saw is a mechanical, motorized way to trim those horns off your goat. As far as removal methods go, it’s one of the most convenient, easiest even. Special care needs to be taken when this method is used, however.
Your first and immediate concern would be to keep your goat’s head in place, so it doesn’t get hurt by the spinning cutters. Rather than using human force, here we recommend manual restraints. As soon as you’ve got this in place, and your goat nicely settled in, you can proceed with the trim.
Start by trimming an inch above the base, to minimize the risk of injuring the goat. Also, keep a cauterizer nearby, in case there’s blood.
Electric Dremel Solution
Dremel tools and attachments are not only useful around the house, a Dremel saw is also pretty handy for trimming horns off goats. Being an electric tool, it does all the grunt work and all you need to do is provide direction and finesse.
For this task, the attachment for cutting plastic and wood will work just fine although you need to make sure that the goat’s head is stable, which is no easy thing. The Dremel cuts through the horn in a matter of seconds, with little or no bleeding at all. You may want to keep a cauterizer close by too, to prevent risks of infection.
We did a quick survey of the most common tools for trimming goat’s horns and we were surprised at how highly bolt cutters are thought of. Apart from helping with metals, they can also be extremely useful for trimming goat’s horns.
With bolt cutters you’ll have to do the majority of the grunt work, so you need skill and patience. Caution also; goats like to move their heads a lot, so it’s necessary to keep their heads in place before cutting. Try not to do too much too soon to avoid harming your goat and always remember to consider the safety of the goat first.
Horse Hoof Nippers
Horse Hoof Nippers work just as well too and it works just like trimming the hooves of cloven animals. With a horse hoof nipper, you can cut off a couple of inches of the horn at a time very quickly and effortlessly, without causing any pain to your goat. And you can continue to shave off inches from the horn as many times as you like. As long as you don’t hit a blood vessel and cause bleeding.
Just start shaving cautiously, taking off a little at a time and working your way up slowly. Using a horse hoof nipper requires patience. But if it is done correctly, you can shave inches off the horn of your goat without any risk of infection or bleeding.
How Much Of The Horn Can Be Cut?
Remember that a goat’s horns are part of its skull and they have blood vessels and nerves in them. Trimming off the horns is not a pleasant experience for the goat in any way. AT the very least, it causes severe discomfort and pain. At worst, the goat may bleed to death, if the horn trimming process goes awry. Apart from taking special care when trimming the horns, exactly how much can you cut safely at a time?
Rather than aiming for too much at once, which will put the goat’s life at risk, you should not trim more than 1-inch portions at a time. Anything further and you may cause bleeding and severe discomfort for the goat.
Risk Of Infection
Infection is another risk associated with cutting goats’ horns. As we mentioned earlier, there are blood vessels running through the horns. When these horns are cut off, the blood vessels become exposed. Exposed blood vessels are very vulnerable to the risk of infection.
Before you dehorn your goat, ensure to give them a shot of tetanus toxoid, to minimize the risk of infection. Also, make sure to cauterize exposed blood vessels using a disbudding iron after you cut off the horns. This is to prevent infection.
Goat Horn Maintenance
Goat horns are like fingernails; trimming them regularly will help keep them from harm. It will also protect you and other goats from accidental or quite intentional jabs.
Fortunately, if you have a goat with horns, you don’t have to do much more than trim the horns regularly. However, if you notice that your goat’s horns are flaky, that may be a result of vitamin deficiency.
Can You Trim A Goat’s Horns
With a lot of patience and care, yes, you can trim a goat’s horns. Of course, if you’ve never done it before, it’s best to get someone who is more experienced to help out. So you don’t make mistakes.
How Do You Grind Down Goats’ Horns?
You can grind down a goat’s horns by using a Zip saw or a Dremel machine. Grind off a few inches at a time, being extremely careful to avoid hurting the goat. With horns that extend back to the goat’s head, start trimming from the top.
Does Banding Goat Horns Work?
Goat horn banding is another bloodless, painless, and quite an effective way to get the horns off your goat. Although some people reported that it didn’t work for their goats, in the vast majority of cases, banding goats’ horns are a fairly effective dehorning method.