Why Are My Goat's Horns Flaking?

Goats' horns flake for a variety of reasons.
Goats' horns flake for a variety of reasons. (Image: Jupiterimages/Pixland/Getty Images)

Goats often experience flaky, peeling horns. This condition is not normally due to a serious underlying medical condition, but it can be unnerving for goat owners. Left untreated, peeling horns can become uncomfortable to goats and in some cases might result in infection and injury. If your goat's horns have suddenly begun peeling, consult your veterinarian to determine the precise cause.

Mineral Deficiencies

Goats require certain vitamins and minerals, particularly calcium, phosphorous, magnesium and salt, to maintain healthy horns. If you don't give your goat a mineral lick or mineral supplement, its peeling horns may be caused by a deficiency. Give her a high-quality, daily mineral supplement. Goats that eat alfalfa hay should have a 1-to-1 calcium to phosphorous ratio in their supplements, while goats that eat grass hay require a 2-to-1 calcium to phosphorous ratio, according to "Storey's Guide to Raising Dairy Goats."

Protein Deficiency

Horns are composed of a core of bone covered in proteins including keratin. A protein deficiency can cause the protein-rich bone coverings to begin to flake and thin. Alfalfa is among the best sources of protein for goats, so ensure this is a part of your goat's diet.

New Growth

Goats' horns often peel when they are growing, especially around the ends of the horns. Kids are especially susceptible to peeling horns as they enter growth spurts. If the peeling is mild and does not get worse over several months, it's not a cause for concern.

Head Butting

Goat horns serve many purposes. They are an attractive decoration and a deterrent to potential rivals and predators. Goats also use their horns during playful head butting and serious fights. If all of your goats have peeling horns, it may be due to excessive head butting. Monitor them carefully to ensure they are not fighting and that larger goats aren't bullying smaller goats.

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  • "Storey's Guide to Raising Dairy Goats"; Jerry Belanger; 2010
  • "Storey's Guide to Raising Meat Goats"; Maggie Sayer; 2010
  • "Raising Goats for Dummies"; Cheryl K. Smith; 2010
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