Sunday, February 8, 2009

Horn banding

We we got our goats, they had already been disbudded. This means, simply, that they had their horns removed in such a way as to get both any horn growth so far and bud, to prevent any further growth of horns. It is usually done with a hot iron made specifically for the job. The goat does complain, but it is thorough and over quickly. The reason horns are removed is to prevent any injury later on of either goat or human because goats love to play and butt. Also, goats can get their horns caught which is very distressing for the goat, expecially if it happens to get caught in an electric fence.

For 3 of the goats, this worked perfectly. But for Cocoa, it was not quite done right and she began to grow horn spurs. Horn spurs do not grow like regular horns, as we came to find out. They typically curl around and, as in Cocoa's case, get near to growing into the backs of their heads. We didn't do anything about it at first, thinking that we'd just let it alone and she'd be a 1-horned goat. But, as it got nearer and nearer to growing into her head, we knew we had to act.

I had read online about a method of horn removal called banding. It is very similar to castration, except of course that it is in a different place. We banded her and left it to work.

It went fine, but I do not want to have to do that again. As the horn spur got closer and closer to falling off, she began to get more and more "shy". She would stand back when the others would come to us and run off if we tried to go to her. I could feet heat generating from the horn and knew that her new disposition was caused by pain. The poor thing.

One day, Buckwheat jumped up and landed on her, knocking the horn the rest of the way off. She screamed. I felt so bad for her. She bled some, though not too bad, because the banding had not been able to work completely. The wound has healed now, though, and she is coming back to her normal self. You can see the "scar" on her left side below.She remained aloof for a while, but is now much more approachable. It does make me absolutely sure that when we disbud the goat kids coming this spring, we need to make absolutely sure that those buds are completely removed. I hate to see the animals in pain, but a short pain is so much better than a long, drawn-out pain. Cocoa agrees.


Red Gate said...

So glad you posted this. I am familiar with hot-iron disbudding, and have read about banding, which sounded great. You are the first I have read to give an account that compares the pain level of the two, though. Guess I will stick with the traditional style!

OurCrazyFarm said...

Horns are such a hard part of goat farming. I am so sorry she had to be in so much pain. I really feel bad now,because when we banded our doe (who was new to us) I just thought her avoiding us was because she was scared of us. The horn did appear to be painful the last couple of days before falling off, too. We have a couple more with spurs, also, and now I am not sure that I want to try banding again. But cutting them sounds so awful, too. Glad she's feeling better! Terri