November 2014 Issue



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Subscribe FREE now! Monthly issues with new articles and other educational information on meat goat health, nutrition, and management written by Suzanne W. Gasparotto of Onion Creek Ranch and Pat Cotten of Bending Tree Ranch. In all cases, it is your responsibility to obtain veterinary services and advice before using any of the information provided in these articles. Neither Suzanne Gasparotto nor Pat Cotten are veterinarians. None of the contributors to this website will be held responsible for the use of any information contained herein.


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Why You Should Never Disbud or Dehorn

Horns serve many positive purposes for goats. The positives of having horns far outweigh the negatives caused by removing them.

A goat eliminates body heat differently from humans. We perspire. Like a dog, a goat eliminates heat through panting. Panting causes the goat to lose carbon dioxide. Loss of carbon dioxide lowers the pH of the blood. This is particularly critical during pregnancy. When a doe is pregnant, any change in the blood's composition affects the nutrition carried to her unborn kids, causing them to starve or die. Having horns allows the goat to eliminate much of this excess heat. I've seen goats without horns die from heat stroke.

Horns serve as a weapon against predators. While this is less important in managed herds, horns do impact the goat's position in the pecking order (both males and females). Bucks compete for the ability to breed does by banging horns and head butting. Does also use horns to establish social ranking, and dams with nursing kids use them to maintain distance between other dams and their kids.

Goats use their horns to scratch themselves. Sometimes they get creative and open feed bins or gates with them. Horns are handy handles for goat raisers to use when working their animals.

Disbudding is very dangerous. The person doing the disbudding may burn too deeply, causing infection and sometimes death. Dehorning is terrible too. Goat horns have a large base with big sinus cavities beneath them. The best a goat can come out with is a major headache. Worse results include scurs that grow back and curl into the goat's head or that break off and bleed, opening the head to infection. Flies can lay eggs in open wounds, and maggots can hatch out and eat into the brain, causing serious illness or death. I've seen a goat lose its eyesight because maggots ate into the head and affected the ocular nerve.

The arguments against horns are (with my rebuttals):

"Horns are dangerous." Indeed they can be. And if you or your family members don't know how to behave around goats and properly handle them, then you should not be raising them. It is absurd to alter the goat physically because of human shortcomings or ridiculous show regulations. You should never get between a buck in rut and a doe in heat, horns or not.

"Horns can get caught in fences." Yes they can. So make sure your fences have horizontal openings of 4 inches or less or 12 inches or more so this doesn't happen. You have to check fences every day when raising goats. Clean up all debris. Some goat ranches could pass for trash dumps. Get all non-goat-related stuff out of goat pastures and pens. Consider this to be a daily responsibility. I've been raising goats since January 1990; I have lost three goats in fences, two of which were small kids who got their tiny horn spread into that 4 inch panel and could not get out. The third was an adult who got hung in a fence while I was away and the person responsible for checking them didn't do his job. Check your goats multiple times per day. Much worse things can happen if you disbud or dehorn the goat. Be a responsible goat owner.

"Legs or horns of other goats can get caught in horns." Again, check your goats regularly. Some of them are going to injure or kill themselves regardless of what you do. It is important to not do things to your goats that impair their ability to adapt to and interact with their herd and their environment.

"My goat show requires disbudding/dehorning." Get the rules changed! Educate the people that made those rules so they know why they are wrong and not good for the goats. If you must, tip the horns. And teach kids how to THINK LIKE A GOAT to minimize their chances of getting hurt.

Suzanne W. Gasparotto, Onion Creek Ranch, Texas 11-11-14


At Onion Creek Ranch in Texas, I am very particular about biosecurity. Every person who enters the ranch must put the soles of his boots or shoes into a broad spectrum disinfectant solution. I don't want disease-causing organisms brought on my ranch.

It is vitally important that you, your workers, and your visitors not bring diseases onto your property or into animal housing areas. Saving just one animal's life will pay for the cost of the mat and the disinfectant that I am recommending.

item5In 2014 at GoatCamp(tm), I tried a new product sold by Jeffers (1-800-533-3377) or This disinfectant mat is designed to be placed at the entrance of any area you wish. I placed it at the ranch entrance gate where people parked their vehicles. When filled with the disinfectant solution, the mat disinfects the boots and shoes of everyone stepping onto it. The mat's bladder is made of a tough poly mesh over a foam core and is not removable. The poly bottom is not permeable, so it doesn't leak. Made in the USA, this one-piece design reduces the likelihood of tripping. Do not use chlorine bleach. Place on level ground and fill with 1.5 gallons of any liquid disinfectant or sanitizer. The foam core will soak up the liquid. Mat dimensions are 24 inches x 28 inches. Red or blue in color. Items AP-DA and AP-DB in Jeffers catalog.


I used the broad-spectrum disinfectant Trifectant by Vetoquinol as the disinfecting solution. The label says It is effective against E. Coli, mycoplasma, gallisepticum, infectious bronchitis, haemophilus somnus, calf rotavirus, foot & mouth disease, rhinopneumonitis, equine influenza, staphylococcus aureus, streptococcus pyogenes, canine parvovirus, distemper & much more. Item # T6-T3 (50 ct bottle) at Jeffers.

I was very pleased with the performance of these products at GoatCamp™. Further, clean-up and storage were quick and easy. I recommend using this mat to provide biosecurity on your farm or ranch.

Suzanne W. Gasparotto, Onion Creek Ranch, Texas 11/11/14



Contact Suzanne Gasparotto at
325-344-5775 for prices and availability.

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Tennessee Meat Goats™ and TexMasters™ are the cream of the meat goat industry. Contact us for availability, ages and pricing by calling 325-344-5775 or emailing



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