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Horns or No Horns on Goats — Which is Better?

Faithful reader Renee posed a question on the Goat Berries Facebook page recently: What do we goat people feel about horns? I thought this was a great question for discussion, so I’m posting it here — please do add your thoughts on the issue as it can help other goat people make some tough decisions.

First, for anyone who doesn’t know, horns don’t go by sex; that is, you both females and males may have horns. It is a genetic trait (kind of like those adorable wattles), so if you’re breeding goats with horns, you’re probably, although not definitely, going to end up with kids with horns.

My girls are both naturally polled (born without horns), so the horn issue isn’t something we dealt with directly *but* we did aim for hornless, so I suppose you can say that I’m on the “no horn” side –beautiful as they can be. Just look at this dude:

Goat by Shaun Dunmall on Flickr

Goat by Shaun Dunmall on Flickr

From what I’ve read, anecdotes about how dangerous horns can be were the most persuasive to me. Goat horns can be dangerous not only for the goat caretakers and their families but also for fellow goats and other animals; goats do tend to headbutt in play and sometimes aggression and can do serious damage to others in either case.

Then there’s the possibility of the horns getting stuck in fences, etc., and putting the goat in other compromising positions, which can not only cause stress and difficulty in freeing itself (the goat can do major damage and even kill itself trying to get free), but it can also leave him or her exposed to predators — even a dog can kill a goat if it really wants to.

On the flip side, some people argue that disbudding is inhumane and unnatural as horns are goats’ natural defenses and help them cool off as sweat glands.

There’s a good discussion of this issue from a long-time goat caretaker at Fias Co. Farm, so I highly recommend heading over there for more information on this as well as on proper disbudding procedures. For the uninitiated, “disbudding” is the process of removing goat’s horns and really isn’t for the faint of heart — and quite painful for the kids too. Note that you should disbud within the first week of the kid’s life, so if you’re about to have kids, this is something you should think about sooner rather than later so you’re prepared.

For our goat-raising situation, I’d say disbudding would be best for us if faced with the horn dilemma — but this is a personal decision, of course, and I’d love to hear your take on it.

So, goat peeps, what is your position on horns? Do you goats have horns? If your goats get disbudded, do you do it yourself? Also, are your goats mixed — some polled, some horned? How does that work out?

Goat Adoptions Through Puget Sound Goat Rescue

For Christmas I donated to various goat and donkey-related charities in my family members’ names, and one of those charities was the Puget Sound Goat Rescue.

Becky and Barb of the Rescue sent a card to my brother and sister-in-law with notification of the donation — and also a thank you card to me, which I actually just received because it was sent to my mom’s address in the States and my mom forwarded it. Will you look at this cuteness?

Christmas Goat from Puget Sound Goat Rescue

Christmas Goat from Puget Sound Goat Rescue

And this is inside:

Christmas Goat from Puget Sound Goat Rescue

Christmas Goat from Puget Sound Goat Rescue

I was so happy to read that Puget Sound Goat Rescue was able to adopt out 109 goats in 2010 . . . *and* that they decided to name a “gorgeous spotted Nubian” after me (Fabio). How cute!

So I just had to give a shout-out here for Puget Sound Goat Rescue, which is doing a wonderful job rescuing, rehabilitating, and adopting out goats from slaughterhouses, auctions, and abusive situations. They also have a goat outreach program to better inform the public about goats. Of course, all these activities cost money, so even if you can’t adopt a goat right now, please do consider helping Becky and Barb continue their maaaaarvelous work with a donation.

Thanks so much for all you do for the goaties, ladies! Goat kisses to all!

Goat Coats and Other Regretsy Fun

My friend Rebecca who runs Brigolante Guest Apartments in Umbria, Italy and also writes a wonderful blog recently sent me a link to this entry on Regretsy:

Pink Leopard Goat Coat

Pink Leopard Goat Coat from Furbabies Boutique on Etsy

Yes, that’s a goat coat made of “Pink Leopard fleece with contrast pink fleece. Fringed edges, velcro closures at neck and tummy.” It’s already been sold, but you can get the pattern if you’d like to make one yourself. Indeed, Furbabies Boutique has quite a few rather adorable sewing and crochet patterns — and not just for animal clothes but also fun socks, which actually make me want to learn to crochet.

Regretsy exists to poke fun at some of the items for sale on Etsy, but in all seriousness, if I lived in a colder climate, I’d put coats on my goats too — I don’t know that I’d go pink leopard fleece, but Clowee the pygmy in the photo really works it! I just don’t know if my girls are *that* into pink.

Now ponchos for chicks? Those I’m not so sure about….

Chicken Poncho on Etsy

Chicken Poncho by Goose on the Loose on Etsy

Do your goats wear coats?

Can you recommend goat coats for other readers who might be in the market (and not looking to sew)?

Pasqualina and her birthday banana

Celebrating Two Years with Pasqualina

Pasqualina's baby bottle

Pasqualina's baby bottle

Two years ago today, my heart changed forever.

We hadn’t planned on getting goats, so we had absolutely nothing prepared when one of P’s friends offered him a month-old kid*. You see, P had mentioned in passing several months prior that maybe someday we’d like to have a goat or two — and then as fate would have it, one of his friend’s does had triplets but only enough milk for two. Pasqualina was the runt, and his friend wasn’t much interested in bottle-feeding. P couldn’t say no.

Thank goodness.

After meeting Pasqualina, I ran to the pharmacy to buy a baby bottle, and that first day was one of the most challenging of my life. Pasqualina needed to eat, but she was terrified of me, and I ended up wearing *way* more milk than made it into Pasqualina’s kiddie tummy. I don’t think she drank any milk at all that first day — and barely any the second or third days either. I was so scared I’d show up one morning to find her collapsed in a heap.

Yes, she was a stubborn little thing, surely holding out for her biological ma’s udder, but I was her only choice — and she obviously wasn’t too happy about that. But then one magical day, she took the bottle.

I can’t describe how triumphant I felt when she finally stayed put in my lap and drank and drank and drank. And then fell asleep in my arms for cuteness effect.

I never imagined how intelligent, caring, cuddly, and downright fun goats could be — and I certainly never envisioned myself taking care of them. But life has a funny way of giving you what you need when you need it, and so I thank you, Pasqualina, for finding us and bringing us so much love and joy (and Pinta — last year at this time, Pasqualina was pregnant!).

Pasqualina and her birthday banana

Pasqualina and her birthday banana

I’ve always been an animal lover, but this kid? She’s something special.

*Since we don’t know her exact birthday, we celebrate today as if it were.


Southern Italian Goats (Not Mine) Star in Cannes Award-Winning Film

*The full post appears at Bleeding Espresso, but I thought my goat-loving friends would also enjoy so I’m mentioning it here as well.*

Le Quattro Volte courtesy of MUBI

Le Quattro Volte courtesy of MUBI

Le Quattro Volte (The Four Times), a film set in Calabria by director Michelangelo Frammartino, won the 2010 Europa Cinemas Label as Best European Film in Cannes Directors’ Fortnight. From the trailer and clips I have seen, it beautifully captures the simplicity of life in this gorgeous land I’m proud to call home while effectively relating the universal idea that each of us has “four distinct lives [mineral, vegetable, animal, and man] and so we have to get to know ourselves four times” (my translation from the official trailer below).

The fact that the story revolves around a goatherd isn’t exactly lost on me either.

A description of the film from Tim Lloyd at AdelaideNow:

An old goatherd takes his flock to feed in the high pastures of Calabria then milks them at his stalls at a spectacular hilltop village, where the rhythm and ritual of life appears unchanged in centuries. His cure-all for his failing health is the blessed ash from ceremonies at the local church. He dies, and at his death a newborn goat takes its first breath. It suits the off-beat and curiously satisfying vision of the film, that the goatherd is resurrected as a goat, then as a tree, and eventually as a mineral.

Le Quattro Volte was also named one of the nine best films for 2011 by the Guardian. For more information, be sure to click over to Le Quattro Volte: Cannes Winner Beautifully Describes Calabrian (and Universal) Life — Without Words.

You Know You’re a Goat Ma When…

A while ago, I did a post at Bleeding Espresso called “You Know You’re in Italy When…” and readers had a great time with it, joining in and adding their own fabulous responses. I’m hoping some more of the same will happen with this post I like to call:

You Know You’re a Goat Maaaa When…

  • You can’t find a piece of clothing without some piece of hay attached.
  • You always go back for just a few more face scratches.
  • You don’t even notice all the goat berries that surround you.
  • You can carry on a full conversation while deftly swiping away your goat’s teeth from your shirt/shorts/pants/shoelaces/jacket.
  • You take special care that your banana peels touch as few surfaces as possible because you know otherwise your goat won’t touch them.
  • Your kids come first, period.
Pinta and Pasqualina, my kids 4evah

Pinta and Pasqualina, my kids 4evah

So, what say you? How does one know when she’s a goat maaaa?

(Or goat paaaa; we’re equal opportunity here!)

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Goats that readers have spotted out and about. Send your photos to michelle(at)goatberries(dot)com! 

Baby the Goat in Georgia
Anguillian Goats
Goats in Central Park Zoo, NYC
Goats goats goats galore!
Tuscan goat
Goat on donkey (no not in that way)
Oman goat
Goat in tree in Africa
Testa Dura Goat Cheese
Goat at Maine Fiber Frolic 2011