You got here because you wanted to be made ill by my stories about things that can happen if horns are not removed when they're young. If that's not what you want, return to the dehorning page.The Barnes tool
This is a picture of a Barnes dehorning tool. It is one of the implements used to "remove" the horns from an adult animal. You place the tool over the horn and press down as hard as you can. Then you spread the handles apart so that the sharp curvy section can dig in below the root of the horn. It may take a little repositioning to get it exactly right as you go. It leaves a real nauseating-looking hole from which quite a bit of blood will be oozing. After you get it done, you're not quite through because now you have to work up the courage to do the second one while looking at what you've done to the first one. But you probably won't see it because you're paying someone else to do it, right? Does that really make it any less disgusting? And here's the real kicker: the darn thing's got a good chance of growing back. And when it grows back, it will be this ugly distorted thing that will probably curve in the wrong direction and look really weird. Oh, and did you figure out how you're going to get the bleeding to stop?Electric fences
Goats with horns do occasionally get stuck in fences. This is not to say that goats without horns have never been caught in fences; but the chance of getting stuck is many times greater if they have horns. Most people with goats don't have electric fences; but some do. It is therefore possible that one of the goats that you did not dehorn could end up in the hands of someone who uses electric fencing. Electric fences work by sending a brief pulse of high-voltage electricity through a wire. When an animal which is in contact with the ground rubs against the fence the circuit is completed through the body of the animal. Since this is a pulsating charge, the usual response is that the animal is startled and immediately backs away from the fence. But with a grazing animal with horns it is possible for the head to become entangled in the fence, especially if it one of the newer multi-wire styles. When this happens, the animal becomes very confused and is usually unable to figure out how to escape. The pulsating charge then goes through the body of the animal over and over. I have seen this happen on one occasion and will never forget it; it truly is like watching a horror movie. Since the animal cannot escape the charge, each pulsation of the charger causes horrible jerking motions. These are repeated until the poor creature is fortunate enough to pass into the great beyond or probably even longer. I really have a hard time believing that some people think that this is preferable to a few seconds under the dehorning iron. I know which I would choose!The saw
This is a picture of a saw, a rather harmless looking tool, right? Now I want you to think about the saw and old Suzie Q's horn. You want to remove the horn with the saw. Let's say the horn is eight inches long. Where do you want to make the cut? Cut off an inch? What good does that do? It probably won't bleed very much if you only take off an inch, but you'll still have seven inches of horn left. How about six inches? Well, only a little bleeding, but you'll only have six inches left. You put Suzie Q through all this to leave her with six inches of horn? Well maybe we can get down real close and leave about an inch. She isn't going to like it one bit. She'll thrash around a whole lot while your sawing. With all the effort that it takes to hold her AND do the sawing, I'll bet that you get tired before you get all the way through. After you're about one third the way through, the darn thing's going to start bleeding. At the half-way point, there's going to be a whole lot of bleeding. And by the time you're all the way through, you'll not only be very sweaty, you'll be covered with blood. Then you can figure out how to get the blood to stop. And then, well what are you going to do about the other horn. Better finish it or she'll look pretty funny with one long horn and one short little "nubbin." By the time you get the second one done, I guarantee there won't be much of either of you that is not colored bright red. And guess what? It doesn't take all that long for them to grow back...but they may have a little different shape from what you were hoping for.The bloody carrot
Every once in a great while, a goat will catch a horn in a fence or some other object. If it pulls extremely hard, the outer layer of the horn will come off. What is left is one of the most repulsive sights in all of farming...and that covers a lot of territory. The inner part of the horn is a small, raw little thing about 2 or 3 inches long. The surface is covered with blood; it seems to ooze blood from millions of little pores all over it. I wish I had a picture of one to make the image more real for you. I can only think of a little carrot that bleeds. Now think, what are you to do with this thing? Its bearer is rapidly becoming covered with blood. It looks absolutely hideous. It is obviously tender to the touch. I'll just leave you thinking about this sight.Chain link fence
Chain link fencing is used by some zoos and teaching institutions to hold animals. Goat farmers tend to be poor folk who are more likely to use regular field fencing in which to hold their goats. But occasionally, there may be exceptions. Maybe you've just brought a new doe and put her in an old chain link dog kennel as a temporary holding area until you can get her permanent residence set up. When "hoof stock" are penned in a strange small area, they tend to become very frightened. The normal response is to try to escape by either running into the fence or jumping over. These critters invented the Fosbury flop millions of years ago; as they achieve height, they twist about and throw their back and head toward the fence. Occasionally (but way too often), one of the horns will catch in the small spaces of the chain link fence. Since the body of the animal is off the ground, it will obviously just hang there. For a while, there will be a lot of thrashing about. Either someone will come along shortly and rescue the poor thing, or it will die.The moral of the story Each one of these situations could have been completely, absolutely, without a doubt prevented by 16 seconds of pain. Within 30 seconds after a proper dehorning, the kid is running about with its friends and showing no signs of discomfort. This is not the case in any of the stories above.
Thank you for taking the time to read this. I truly hope that it has been convincing.