While some goats are born without horns, a distinction known as "polled," most are born with them, and are later dehorned by breeders. The dehorning procedure is done for several reasons, including creating a safer handling environment where even a friendly goat might accidentally gore his owners. Dehorning also prevents injuries between herd mates during a fight, and also keeps the goats from getting hung up in fence lines. Disbudding (the process of removing horn buds from very young goats) should always be chosen over dehorning when at all possible. If you bring a horned goat into a herd that is hornless, it may be necessary to attempt dehorning an older goat. When properly done, dehorning is not overly painful, but there are several risks involved.
Things You'll Need
- Pet clippers with #20 or #40 blade
- Livestock clippers
- Sharp knife or small saw
- 2 castrating bands
- Tetanus vaccine
- Duct tape
Trim the hair surrounding the base of the horns where they attach at the skull using a #20 or #40 blade on a pair of livestock clippers.
Straddle the goat between your legs, holding him firmly with your calves while an assistant firmly holds his head. Swab an area on the skin between the shoulder blades (withers) of the goat and inoculate for tetanus. Giving a tetanus inoculation at this time helps prevent infections from the healing horn base.
Use a sharp knife or small sharp saw to cut a notch on front and back side of the horn at the base as close to the head as possible.
Place a castrating band over the top of each horn and roll down to the notched area, making sure the band is well-seated in the notch so it cannot move around or slip off.
Place a piece of duct tape over each band and wrap securely around the base of the horn to further ensure the band does not move.