Dehorning

Goats January 24, 2011 Print Friendly and PDF

Dehorning Techniques to Remove Immature Horns

After horn buds erupt, disbudding methods are not effective so more invasive procedures must be used to remove horns. These are far less preferable to disbudding due to the increased pain to the animal, cost to the owner and risk of complications.

As in disbudding, a proper nerve block and restraint are necessary. Clip hair away from the horn base. Remove protruding horn with a pair of horse hoof nippers so a dehorning iron can be applied to the horn base. Proceed as for disbudding.

Other dehorning methods exist but are not recommended. These include elastrator bands and any type of knife or scoop excision. Elastrator bands are very painful; they are often unsuccessful because they are difficult to secure at the teardrop-shaped horn base. Knives or scooping dehorners can cause skull fractures, brain injuries and excessive bleeding.

Dehorning Techniques to Remove Adult Horns

Dehorning a mature goat can be a bloody and difficult procedure with many serious complications; that is why it is much preferable to disbud kids. Delayed or unsuccessful disbudding can result in horns or scurs that must be dealt with for various reasons.

Veterinarians should remove horns of mature goats because sedation and/or local nerve blocks must be used, excessive bleeding must be controlled, and the head must be bandaged and monitored for infection. Tetanus prevention (vaccination or anti-toxin) must be considered and antibiotics may be indicated.