Goat horns are made up of bone and keratin – the same material your fingernails are made of – as a sheath.
However, this might make you wonder if they grow the same way your fingernails and hair do.
However, goat horns do a lot more than your fingernails!
For instance, they play a big role in helping goats regulate their temperature and avoid problems like overheating.
Understanding the ins and outs of goat horn growth can help you better care for your goats throughout their lives.
Goat horns do keep growing throughout their life, although it’s common to notice more drastic growth when your goats are young. In some cases, if a goat’s horns are left to grow, it’s even possible to estimate their age based on their horn growth.
There are a lot of factors that play a role in the growth of a goat’s horns, both environmental and genetic.
Unless a goat is polled – in other words, born without horns – you’ll need to know the ins and outs of goat horn growth.
Keep reading, and we’ll take an in-depth look at everything you need to know about your goat’s horn growth, including discussing if and when goat horns stop growing.
Do Goat Horns Stop Growing?
Typically, goat horns continue to grow throughout their life.
As mentioned, you might notice their horns grow faster when they’re younger as this is a period of rapid development for most animals – goats included.
On the other hand, it’s worth noting some circumstances will halt or slow goat horn growth.
For example, some owners notice their goats’ horns grow at a slower rate in times of stress.
Of course, you’ll also note a halt in goat horn growth if it’s purposeful.
Processes such as disbudding are meant to ensure horn growth is stunted.
People opt for these procedures for various reasons, including preventing dangerous roughhousing or concerns of goats getting caught in fences.
Goat horns also cool down the goat during hot weather, so this is something else to keep in mind.
Related: How hot is too hot for a goat?
Keep in mind: improper disbudding can lead to regrowth or further health problems for goats.
You may notice scurs after disbudding – smaller instances of horn regrowth.
If your goat’s horn is broken or damaged, this will slow down growth.
Other environmental factors can determine the rate of growth as well.
This includes concepts related to your goat’s health, including whether it is sick and how nutritious their diet is.
How Long Do Goat Horns Grow?
Once you know your goat’s horns are likely to keep growing, you might wonder exactly how long they’ll grow.
First of all, there are more than 200 different breeds of goat, which leaves a lot of room for variance in everything from the way they look to their personalities.
Because of this, as we discussed earlier, you might see some differences in their horns.
If a goat’s horns are damaged, this will also cause your goat to fall outside of this normal range.
On average, though, most goats’ horns will grow 8 to 12″ inches long.
Naturally, some goats may fall slightly outside of this average.
Some other basics of goat horns include knowing goats also don’t shed their horns.
Put another way; they retain their horn growth unless their horn is cut back or damaged.
This is why it’s sometimes possible to tell a goat’s age by its horns!
How Fast Do Goat Horns Grow?
Unless a goat is polled, you’ll notice horn growth starting as early as four days old.
However, it can start as late as 10 days old.
This depends on a few different factors.
For example, goat breeds can vary slightly when they first start to visibly sprout horns.
Another factor is sexual dimorphism.
Female goats tend to take slightly longer to show signs of horn growth than male goats.
Once horn growth starts, it continues unless it’s halted by intervention or injury.
However, you’ll notice this growth is much more gradual as your goats reach maturity.
It’s around 4 years old most experts consider goats to have fully-grown horns.
Further reading: Do female goats have horns?
Can Goats Regrow Horns?
The answer to this question depends on the circumstance.
For example, after an effective disbudding or removal of the horn buds, you aren’t going to see your goat’s horns grow back.
On the other hand, you might notice scurs after disbudding.
Scurs are small instances of horn regrowth, but your goats are more likely to shed them since scurs grow from the skin and horns are attached to the skull.
Scurs are typically associated with improper disbudding or a disbudding process done later than normal.
While a goat’s horns may grow throughout its life, they probably aren’t going to grow back if they break or get damaged.
This is why caretakers often file a goat’s horn a bit when they chip or break.
Just like if you chipped a nail, a goat’s horn isn’t going to regenerate and heal like a cut on the skin.
Breaks closer to the horn base require first aid, but the horn isn’t going to grow back.
If the horn is broken off close to the base, scurs are another potential environment.
How to Make Goat Horns Safe
In some cases, long, unmanaged horns can cause alarm.
After all, no one wants their goat to get caught in a fence or roughhouse a little too hard when playing with other goats.
Luckily, there are a few ways to limit the risk long horns may pose.
Some goat owners opt to disbud their goat, which we’ve already touched on.
However, this process is typically limited to kids and comes with risks, even though those risks are more limited than adult dehorning.
Conversely, some people prefer to trim their goat’s horns.
If you do this, make sure not to cut more than an inch at a time since, beyond the keratin sheath, goat horns do contain nerves and blood vessels.
Another easy solution for a less labor-intensive or intrusive method is using goat horn wraps.
We recommend a horn cover like this one to help protect your goat’s horns and anything they might come into contact with.
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