If your sheep breaks a horn, you’re likely concerned about their well-being and the injury’s seriousness.
It makes sense for sheep owners to be very concerned with this when it happens.
Even if it hasn’t happened, it’s good to know what to do if a sheep breaks a horn if you have a flock of sheep.
If a sheep breaks a horn, you want to stop the bleeding by using pressure with a rag. Corn starch or clean cloths will also stop the bleeding. Some horns only break the outer layer and heal on their own, while others break to the core, are more serious, and require more attention.
As homesteaders and farmers, we know injuries happen.
Knowing what to do when an injury occurs is an essential part of being a sheep owner.
Let’s look at what to do if a sheep breaks a horn.
How To Stop A Broken Ram Horn From Bleeding
You’re bound to see sheep and goat horn injuries at one point or another in your time caring for livestock.
Ram horns are very strong, but this doesn’t mean they aren’t susceptible to injury.
Whether there is an injury to goat horns or sheep horns, you’ll need to address the damage.
Sometimes minor injuries only require minor horn care, while others damage the horn structure more seriously.
A broken horn is usually not a huge issue for domestic sheep.
There are instances where the broken horn is a bit more severe and gets down to the horn core.
These require more treatment to maintain sheep health.
Bighorn sheep are a bit more likely to experience injuries due to the larger size of their horns.
For more serious injuries to bighorn sheep or other breeds of sheep, the first thing to do is stop the bleeding.
These situations are extra time-sensitive, so it is essential to act quickly.
Whether you use a rag or cornstarch to stop the blood, apply pressure for a significant period until the bleeding stops.
How Do Sheep Horns Break?
Sheep horn and goat horn injuries tend to occur when fighting or playing.
They may also get caught in fencing or get attacked by predators.
Domestic and wild mountain sheep will fight to establish hierarchy, especially during mating season.
It is a natural part of their social structure, but it also leads to injuries.
If you have a pet sheep, you may still experience an injured horn on ram friends, so it is essential to know how to care for it.
Further Reading: Why sheep keep headbutting stuff
Minor damage to the broken horn will usually heal on its own, but cleaning it and applying antiseptic will help it heal more quickly and properly.
If the outer layer is damaged, there is a chance of abnormal horn growth in the future as the two may grow at different rates.
Sheep have growth rings much as trees do.
As they age, the horn size increases as a keratin sheath forms over time.
The keratin portion of the horn heals reasonably quickly, but it is still a good idea to clean it and keep it sanitary.
This is especially true during the fly season as the flies may be attracted to the wound.
Flies hanging around wounds often result in infections and other complications in the healing process.
More severe injuries for ram horns affect deeper than the keratin region of the horn.
If a full break happens and it goes to the horn core, it is vital to stop the bleeding fast.
This will take longer to heal and require significantly more care.
There is an artery flowing through the horn core.
This means it will be a lot when broken.
The keratin sheath usually protects the horn core during an injury, but if it is a bad break, the keratin sheath will not be enough.
When Is A Broken Horn An Emergency?
While some horn injuries are minor, some are seriously dangerous.
Knowing when it becomes an emergency is essential to keep your bighorn sheep, mountain sheep, or other breeds safe.
Full horn breaks do occur and are very serious.
You will need to deeply clean the wound, stop the bleeding, and apply a complete head wrap to keep the wound sanitary and safe from infection.
Some look at horns like fingernails, but this is not the case.
Horns have arteries flowing through them, and some broken horns even result in a wounded animal with the brain exposed as the horn is very securely grown from the head.
While it is possible to treat these wounds at home, we recommend calling in an experienced veterinary professional capable of providing proper care so your sheep heals appropriately.
Will A Broken Horn On A Sheep Grow Back?
When a horn breaks off a sheep or a goat, you may wonder if it will ever grow back.
The answer to this depends greatly on the severity of the injury.
Injuries to the outer layer or keratin sheath will usually grow back.
Sometimes cracks occur in this layer and must be addressed, but usually, they grow back without issue.
If there is a more significant break in the keratin layer, the horn may grow slightly off center or misshapen, but it will grow back.
Chances are, the broken outer layer horn will always be smaller than the unharmed horn.
This is because it needs to catch up with keratin growth from the lost layers.
More serious full breaks on horns are a bit more of a gamble.
There is no guarantee fully broken-off horns will grow back, especially if it is a bad break.
If they do grow back, they may bud improperly and lead to deformed or divergent horns growing back in their place.
Monitor the growth of these closely to ensure they are not growing uncomfortably for the goat.
It helps trim the keratin sheath on the new horns as they grow in to ensure it doesn’t agitate the scar tissue and end up making your sheep uncomfortable.