Like many farm animals, domestic goats have certain physical characteristics differing between the sexes.
Many often think immediately of a goat’s horns and wonder, do female goats have horns like male goats?
Contrary to popular belief, a female goat can have horns. However, these horns are usually smaller than those you see on mature, male horned goats. The presence of horns tends to vary across breeds rather than between sexes, and the absence of horns can’t alone determine sex.
Keep reading, and we’ll look at what goes into determining what makes a hornless goat and a few other physical differences you may notice.
Which Goats Don’t Have Horns?
If a female goat has horns, what determines whether or not a goat will sport a pair of horns later on?
There are a few factors.
For example, some goat breeds are polled, meaning hornless, simply because they don’t have the gene for horns.
Neither male nor female members of a goat herd will have horns in these breeds.
These are a few goat breeds of goat which don’t feature the genetic trait for horns:
- Alpine goats
- Nubian goats
- Nigerian dwarf goats
- Miniature Oberhasli goats
- LaMancha goats
- Maltese goats
- Toggenburg goats
The decision for kids with parents across multiple breeds comes down to goat horn genetics.
The gene for horns is recessive, while the genes for polled kids are a dominant trait.
As a dominant trait, this means if the gene for being polled is present, this is how the kid will visually present even if they have a recessive horned trait.
What Are Goat Horns For?
While a goat may or may not have horns, they still serve a purpose.
Goats use their horns during hot weather.
While they may not look like it, their horns play an important role in regulating a goat’s body temperature, especially when it comes to avoiding overheating.
Because of this, it’s not always a good idea to disbud a goat.
Goat keepers recommend against disbudding a baby goat if they’re a long-haired breed like an Angora goat.
Why Do Goats Have Horns Removed?
If it’s up to genetics whether or not a goat has horns, why do goat keepers remove the horns from these horned animals?
There are a few reasons why goat keepers may opt for disbudding for both dairy goats and goats for other purposes.
However, they typically all come back to safety measures.
For one, goats with horns are more likely to get stuck, leading to danger.
This can pose a particular problem since goats are such curious animals.
Goat owners may also use this process to protect keepers and other animals.
After all, with goat horns intact, a startled goat could easily do some damage rearing its head around.
Some goat keepers turn to disbud their goats to prevent competitive behavior and bullying within the herd.
How Else Can You Keep a Goat’s Horns Safe?
Some goat keepers aren’t as interested in dehorning goats for various reasons ranging from concerns about the permanence of the modification to simply missing the age window to properly disbud a goat.
Yet, they still want to ensure they don’t run into any safety issues surrounding horned goats.
There are a few ways to tackle this for both male and female horned goats, but one of the most common choices is to use bumpers.
This is when someone covers the horns with a softer protective layer like a pool noodle or goat horn cover.
Can Goats Regrow Horns?
Failure to disbud a goat properly or at the right time can lead to some regrowth around the horn bud.
These growths are called scurs and are a more common problem in male goats.
If your goat breaks a horn, it isn’t going to grow back.
Aside from scurs, horns may shed, and they’ll grow to a point as your goat matures.
However, mature goat horn injuries aren’t going to grow back the same way a lizard’s tail might if they lose it.
Related: What to do if your goat breaks a horn?
Male And Female Goat Myths
Do Female Goats Have Beards?
Beards have nothing to do with the gender of your goat, either.
When going through a goat gender query, a beard isn’t evidence of sex.
It’s incredibly common for goats to have longer hair on their chines or beards.
Like horns, both male and female goats can sport a beard on their chin.
Further Reading: Female goats with beards (and more)
Do Female Goats Have Wattles?
When you look at an adult goat, you might notice they have some extra skin flaps on their neck.
These are referred to as wattles.
Wattles don’t serve much of a purpose anymore.
Once, they were part of a gland on these herd animals they no longer need.
The evolutionary remnants of this gland are the wattle we see on their bodies today.
This is another feature present in both female and male goats.
If you notice a wattle on a female goat, there’s a higher chance any goat kid she has will also have a wattle.
Related: Goat breeds with wattles (pictures included)
Differences Between Male and Female Goats
While their wattles, beards, and horns might all be present, there are a few different physical characteristics between male and female goats aside from their reproductive systems.
Like many other animals, size is a good indicator of a goat’s sex, but it isn’t ironclad.
While male goats are usually larger, this assumes the goat falls within the average size range for their age, breed, and sex.
Another indicator present at times is a specific scent.
Male goats emit a scent during the mating season while does don’t.
You won’t notice this musky scent in a doe or a wether, a castrated male goat.
Presence of Udders
Much like a cow, a goat feeds their young with udders.
Once a female goat has kids, you’ll notice this udder start to swell and remain prominent after she stops nursing.
Male goats are also more aggressive. Even to the point where male goats may kill babies!