Archive | 7:07 pm

A Horntastrophy?

13 Dec

When I got home yesterday, I found that my dear Millie goat had broken her horn.



A goat’s horn is a part of their skull, and they will keep growing from the base of the skull throughout the goat’s entire life.  It can be extremely traumatic if they break one.  I’ve seen it completely change the angle a horn pointed.  Even though the horn itself doesn’t have nerves to feel, can cause extreme pain when it is wrenched out of position.   Pam twisted her horn and ended up having a partial dehorning to clean up her injury.  It grew out, but it pointed off to the side after the trauma.



It can also be extremely bloody.  When Opal broke her horn, the vet had to use powder to stop the bleeding and bandage it.  She also got a booster of over-eating tetanus along with antibiotics and pain killers.



The horn is bone on the outside, but it has a blood well that extended up into the horn.   That’s one major function of the horn.  It helps regulate body temperature.

Haley Blackboer


Horns are also one of the only defenses a goat has.  They are prey animals, and horns are about the only weapon they have to defend themselves.



They also work well for scratching those hard to reach places.



Then there’s my Millie, who is truly a musician.  That’s why she has damaged her horns.  She previously scraped enough of that horn off to cause her to bleed.  That’s dangerous because it’s an open avenue for infection to enter her body.

MILLIE collage

Once they are open like that, they won’t grow new horn to cover the opening, but in Meg’s case, I could put a bandage on it (and give her a tetanus booster), and she would quit beating on them allowing them to scar over.

Saanen doe with horn wrap


Millie would have the bandage off and make them bleed every day.  That’s when I came up with the idea of the casts, and they’ve helped her stay safe.

vet put casts on goat's horn

Millie, Dr. Schmitz, and me

I’d guess the previous injuries and the casts putting pressure on her horns caused that blood well to be restricted.  Without the blood going up into the horn, it basically died off.  I’d guess it became brittle, and when she broke it off, there was no trauma.  She didn’t bleed, and it doesn’t seem to have caused her any pain.  There’s no avenue for infection to enter because it’s sealed.  If there were an opening to her body, it would be bleeding.

broken horn

We went through something similar when Lotus broke the outside of her horn, bending it back.  By the time it finished breaking off (the day before she had a vet appointment to finish removing it), it had restricted the flow of blood into the horn and there was no bleeding.  It had already sealed.



The vet will be coming out in the next few days to trim up where it broke.  I don’t want her to have such a sharp horn.  It would be too easy for her to accidentally hurt someone.  Even though she looks a little lop-sided, I’m grateful it wasn’t really a big deal.

goat with broken horn

Even though some people de-horn their goats, I can’t advocate for dehorning because they are so important to goats.  In addition to that, it’s a lot easier for me to hold a full-sized goat and give it a shot when they have horns.  My son prefers the horned goats to hold when they are big and strong enough that I can’t do it on my own.

Saanen doe goat

Minnie Pearl

Even though we’ve had a few horn injuries, and I think I’ve shared every single one in this post, I would never consider de-horning my goats.  In my opinion, they are just too important to the goat.

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