Goat Horn Removal
I'd like to state from the start; I do not advocate altering animals for human preference. As a matter of fact I am very against it. I am writing this hub for those people that are going to perform the procedure regardless, but need guidance on how to do it correctly with the minimum amount of pain inflicted on the baby goat.
If you're a person that shows animals, goats in particular, you're aware, or soon will be, that horns are not accepted in most goat show classes. If your goat enters the ring with horns you will be disqualified or awarded no points.
The term horn removal is misleading. The procedure does not remove the horn. In fact the horn isn't removed at all. The horn, just as it begins to grow, is burned at the base to kill it. The horn is left intact to the skull, but it will not grow anymore. The procedure is performed when the goat is still a baby, a kid, when the horns are nubs. It can be performed on older goats. When it is done to an older goat the horn is literally cut off and a blood clotting medication is used to stem the blood flow produced by the removal of the horn. It is preferable if they are still young to avoid larger then necessary scaring and as the goat ages it becomes stronger and will fight the procedure more.
The Man Behind the Iron
A long time personal friend of mine, Russ, was raised on a farm and has been raising, breeding and showing goats for almost fifty years! Russ definitely knows what he's doing. He completes the job with speed and accuracy to be noted. The baby goat endures a minimum amount of pain the procedure can be limited to when Russ is the man behind the iron. He will be performing the following dehorning procedures with an assistant.
The ProcedureClick thumbnail to view full-size
I will apologize for the fact that some of the pictures are blurry. The baby goat is struggling so much it is impossible to get a clean shot of the actual burning of the horn.
Burning the Horn (cauterize)
The pictures above are from start to finish of the burning or cauterizing process. Below is a description of each photograph from start to finish. Before cauterizing the horn, you can trim the hair surrounding the nub to reduce the amount of smoke when the hot iron is applied.
- These are the tools used to burn/cauterize the horn. They come in various sizes. Choose the one that fits onto the nub on the kids head, not loose or tight.
- Once you choose the correct size to use: heat the end of it with a torch or some kind of similar heating device. Heat it until it is red hot.
- This is the baby goat waiting for the de-horning procedure.
- While someone holds the baby goat very firmly: place the red hot iron on the nub and press down gently, yet firmly.
- The baby goat will be struggling to get away from the pain.
- Hold for just a second or so. The baby goat is going to be thrashing about at this point. It is experiencing excruciating pain and it will struggle to get away. There will be smoke and a foul odor of burning flesh and hair.
- While the iron is still hot, place it onto the other nub and again, hold for just a second or so.
- Firm pressure.
- More smoke, this is normal.
- The final product
- Another shot of the cauterized horns.
It's done. Set the iron down somewhere safe so no one will bump into it or catch dry grass or hay on fire.