Goats: Horns or No Horns

| 5/1/2012 10:08:42 AM


So what gives with all the baby boys this year? It has been so frustrating! Normally, when it comes to births, you can pretty much depend on a 50/50newkids split between bucks and does, or 49/51, worst case scenario is 45/55, however, out of 9 live births, only 1 girl???  

Of course, the little bucklings that we’ve had are truly adorable and will grow up to be big strapping, healthy, breeding bucks, but, we need some girls! Two more does to kid, and hopefully we’ll straighten out the odds a little. Those left to kid are first fresheners (for those of you who are not familiar with the terminology this means, the first time a doe kids and come into milk) however, one poor girl looks like she’s going to explode at any minute and she still has 5 weeks to go! Triplet girls, maybe, please? 

Velocity In my last post I mentioned I would be talking about disbudding, and I am going to touch on it, but this is not the whole story. Let me explain. The following is what works for us, it is something that we choose to do, other people may feel very differently and have had different experiences, and that is fine! Everybody has different management practices.  

We do not disbud our males. We have disbudded our male goats in the past, and we have purchased bucklings from other breeders who disbud their goats as well.  Intact males have oodles of testosterone, and most times, even though they have been disbudded properly, the excess hormones cause scur horns to grow. Scur horns should be re-named scourge horns because, believe me; they can cause some big time problems! We just put our two breeding bucks in the freezer because of scur problems. The first guy, Bat Man, a drop dead gorgeous Alpine, born here and disbudded here, had one horn that was growing so crooked that it continually irritated his ear. Our other big man was a very handsome Sable buck we purchased from a New York breeder at five months old. His horns were even worse than Bat Man’s. One of his horns continually needed to be trimmed because it threatened to grow right into his skull. Putting a two hundred or so pound buck on a fitting stand, and trying to hold his head still so that the horn could be trimmed with tree pruners is NOT a fun job. I am not strong enough to be able to hold him still, so twice a year we had to find someone willing to help out. Not a very pleasant job during rut, it did however, provide a good Goat School lesson. 

We routinely disbud the doelings, mainly because we sell the majority of them. They are registered and there are children out there who want to show them at 4-H fairs and such. 

5/11/2012 2:35:12 AM

We have approximately 50 goats and most of them have horns. We have disbudded our kids, depending on the breed or as asked by our customers. In order to show our goats in sanctioned dairy shows horns are a no no, while our Boers must have horns. i refer to disbudding as mutilating mainly to annoy/pester our dairy goat hearder friends. Our disbudded goats live quite happily with our horned goats and having or not having horns doesn't seem to make any difference in when they are in the herd. Some of our disbudded dairy does push larger heavier Boer goats around. We also have Kiko goats and they can never be disbudded according to the sanctiong/registering agencies.

Kelly Hargrove
5/2/2012 9:27:01 PM

Hi, I love the blog. Great information. We do not disbud any of our goats and we have never had a problem. I can honestly say that I have never been hurt with the horns and yes, they are great handles. The goats butt heads no matter if they do or dont have horns. Love the kids.

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