We strongly believe that if an animal in its natural state
doesn't suit a particular person, that person would do better by the animals
(s)he claims to admire and by (her)himself to forgo acquiring that animal and
acquire one that does suit that person. Surgical amputations and altering to
suit a preference seems to me to be both immoral and shortsighted. Humans have
made a career out of short sightedness and turning a blind eye to accommodate
short term goals. I believe this shows a lack of respect for nature, ourselves
and our environment. It also seems to indicate a "we are so much more important
than anything else that nothing but our whim matters" complex.
It's not as if there are not naturally polled goats out
there. If a particular breed that one just has to have doesn't have
naturally polled individuals, and it's really important to have a polled
animal, I suggest selective outbreeding as a means to accomplish the goal.
Granted, it takes longer than whacking the horns off but it is far more
gentle, less intrusive, and respectful than mutilating an animal because one
likes it better that way.
If one thinks that horns pose a serious threat and one still
wants the animals, I would suggest restricting minors too young to
understand the potential for damage from sharing the same space at the same
time with the potentially dangerous animals. As far as adults are concerned,
we are supposed to be responsible enough to respect danger we willingly
encounter and avoid the mishaps. Again, mutilation as a means of countering
carelessness seems extremely disrespectful of animals we profess to love.
Training of adults and children by knowledgeable and
responsible adults, familiar with the animals in question, seems an
appropriate response to owning any domesticated animal from a gerbil to a
bison. Throwing children and uninitiated adults into the middle of a herd of
anything without education is, I believe, both foolish and irresponsible. It
is asking for trouble, with or without horns.
Many breeders have expressed a concern
over the irrational habit that goats have which results in their head being
stuck in a fence - much like a fish hook in a trout's mouth. There are
several remedies for this problem that do not include removing the goat's
horns. The most cost and labor efficient seems to be in the fence
material and construction. Goat and sheep wire is available which allows
horned animals to retract their heads if they put them through. We
don't use that wire as it allows the free movement of young goats and dogs
through the fence. We use electric wire along the inside of field
fence (and/or stock panels with large openings) to prevent them from going
through in the first place. We also check our animals regularly. "The best
fertilizer is the holder's footprints" applies to livestock operations as
well as crop farming.
We have also been told that holding the
goats in close quarters during extremely cold weather is necessary for the
goats' health. The person told us that when horned goats are closely
penned that horrible gorings can occur and the she had had the experience of
dealing with the results of her goats being gored in this situation.
We have no reason to disbelieve her story. We have also been told by
people we know who live in northwestern Nebraska, that they do not pen their
goats at any time of the year due to weather and they have had no ill
effects. As we live in SE Oklahoma, we have no experience with extreme
cold weather and goats surviving. From the two stories we believe it
may be unnecessary to closely pen goats for months at a time but that, if
you choose to, it's possible that you could have a goat gored badly.
We have certainly seen a few goats that would do that if given too much time
in a tightly penned situation.
Dan & Paula Lane
Copyright © 2005 [Bountiful Farm]. All rights reserved.