Goat horns vs. disbudding is a hot issue; you'll find goat owners on both sides of the fence and each owner will probably be very vocal about their choice. While disbudding is not a pleasant process, it's quickly over and the kid will have a nice clean head when it grows up.
Both male and female goats have horns, but most dairy goats are disbudded as kids so they won't have horns as adults.
Hornless goats are easier to milk; they don't get their heads stuck in the milkstand, and are safer for their handlers to be around.
For the most part my goats have been hornless. I've had a couple of goats with horns in the past: the buck I borrowed from a neighbor up the road, and our youngest daughter's two 4-H market does.
The does in particular were a menace: they knew they had horns and they knew how to use them. They threatened the dairy does, they got their horns caught in the fencing and the hay rack, and I was caught several times by accident when a doe would sling her head around. Horns can hurt.
Our borrowed buck with horns, on the right
And because our young granddaughter came every summer to stay with us, my rather relaxed "no horns except on the boer goats" policy became "no horns allowed". We no longer had the horned buck and the market does were sold as soon as our daughter left for college.
In the disbudding process the horn bud is burned with an electric iron to cauterize the horn material and prevent it from growing. Some people prefer to do this before the kid is a week old; others prefer to wait until just before the horn breaks through the skin at about two to three weeks of age. My vet falls into the latter category.
I don't suggest using caustic horn paste that can drip into the goats' eyes or be transferred to another goats' skin from the kid's head. I don't recommend banding horns so that the blood supply will die and the horn will [hopefully] eventually fall off. If you want your goats to be hornless, disbudding is the best and most humane way to do so.
Firefly just after being disbudded
In the above photo, you can see the rings on Firefly's head from being disbudded. In the photo below, the same goat as a yearling.
Firefly as an adult
I don't recommend trying to remove the horns from a goat that is past the age of disbudding.
Some dairy breeds have polled individuals who lack the genetics for horns. Polled goats seem to have some other genetic issues though, so if this is something that interests you, please do some research before you decide.
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