We finally had to do it. We had to take the horns off of our three and a half year old full blood Boer buck. His horns had grown in and turned out at such an angle that the sides of the horns were pressing badly enough into the sides of this thick neck that they had made gashes where they fit. He had spent most the summer on his knees trying to graze that way since his horns prevented him from turning or dropping his head down. I had hoped to wait until winter to do the dehorning to keep away from the flies, but no way out of it now.
The next step was to find a large animal vet. Thereís none in our county, but we found one in another county that was game enough to try and help the big buck, if we brought the buck to her clinic. I made the appointment to be there next afternoon and Lee took the time off from work to help me.
This buck was not taught to lead, was pasture raised, was usually put in stocks for hoof trimming and shots. He was not considered a "socialized" buck. The only time he had been transported anywhere was as a kid to our farm in a big dog crate. Now we had to load him in a stock trailer and haul him to a clinic.
The next morning we decided to try the easiest way to do this first and see if it worked. Lee backed the stock trailer to the gate, got a bucket of grain, shook the grain at the big fellow, and much to our surprise he went right into the trailer to get the grain. I let Lee out and shut the trailer door.
We pulled in at the back of the clinic and the young woman vet came out and said to lead the buck on into the clinic. I told her he was not taught to lead and had not been fooled with a great deal. She said in that case she would get a little dab of tranquilizer to give him, but not much because goats tended to die too easy when given such stuff.
She stepped in the stock trailer with us and exclaimed that this was the biggest goat she had ever seen! Lee put a rope around the buckís neck to hold him in one spot and the buck never fussed. The vet gave him a light dose of tranquilizer and told us to try and get him in the clinic to the first examining room.
Lee used the grain bucket trick again while holding onto the rope and I followed behind giving the buck a little push to keep him going. He cautiously walked into the clinic to the first examining room like he always did this!!!! Could have knocked me over with a feather and it was not the tranquilizer that had time to work on him, what there was of it she gave.
The young vet started fretting about not knowing his exact weight to figure the dosage needed to lightly put him to sleep to saw the horns off. Her next suggestion was that we take him to the waiting room where the digital scales were for dogs and weigh him! I thought we had pushed the limits getting him into that examining room, but this! She called for her assistants and two girls showed up in the room with us.
Their first comment was, "WHEW!!!! Is that him smelling like that?!" The buck smell was a bit over powering in a small room, but I really hadnít noticed it. Either my nose is deadened to buck smell or I just accept it. Their next comment was, "This is the biggest goat Iíve ever seen!"
So, we gently guided him out to the waiting room where bug eyed customers waited and we did try to weigh him. But, he kept leaning against the wall while on the scales. The scales showed 220 lbs. And I knew better then that, plus he was leaning against the wall because he did not want to be on those scales, so what do you add to that weight? Who knows, the vet decided to stay with the low side for figuring out how much to use to knock him out very lightly.
Back to the examining room we went and that buck never gave us a cross word and accepted all those hands guiding him. I was impressed with this big gentle fellow placed in such a stressful situation. The vet gave him his knock out shot and he went down fast, she quickly checked pulse, heartbeat, breathing, and then went to get more help to lift him up on the "table".
The table was a huge, long sink with what looked like a grill rack on it. It had water and the sink allowed blood to drain away. It took six of us to lift him up and put him on that "table". She then numbed around the base of the horns.
The vet handed over the "wire" (Iíve seen hunters use this to saw tree limbs) to one of her assistants. The assistant uses a row master regularly and she had those horns sawed off in seconds. Blood started squirting everywhere but they were ready with a disbudding iron and quickly put the iron on the bleeders.
Sawing the horns off so close exposed the buckís sinus cavities and they put plenty of antiseptic powder down the holes and bandaged the top of his head. Next was waiting for him to awake. We all gently laid him down on the floor and propped him up against the table. I wished Iíd had my camera at the time because he looked like an enormous dog curled up against that table taking a good nap.
He slowly woke up and we got him to his feet and headed him out the door. When he got to the clinicís hallway, he got dizzy and leaned against the wall that had real nice paneling. I winced at that because I knew his buck scent would "soak" into that paneling and they would be smelling him for some time.
As he leaned against the paneled wall and slowly made his way down the hallway, a fellow in the waiting room saw him and his mouth dropped open. He just couldnít take it all in and hollered to us, " What is that? A Saint Bernard?" I said, no, a goat, and he stood there gaping like a fish, unable to fit in the idea of a goat leaning against the wall, walking down the hallway.
When we got outside, the big buck saw the open stock trailer door and made a beeline to it and jumped in! He wanted to go home. The vet came out again to check him over and kept repeating that this was the biggest goat she had ever seen. The assistants kept saying that too, while spraying room deodorizer around. They tried spraying some on him when he was asleep, but it didnít help.
The vet gave me Screw Worm spray and Naxcell to give the big fellow. The Naxcell was to fight infection and the Screw Worm spray was to keep the flies away. We gave him his shots morning and evening for three days and each of those evenings we gave Fortified B shots to help with stress and to keep him eating. He didnít have a bit of problem about keeping on eating. The problem we had with the Screw Worm spray was that the aerosol upset him, plus if too much of the spray got into the holes after the bandage was removed in two days, it ran down his sinus cavities and came out his nose and this really upset him. It would have been like me spraying a strong aerosol up my nose. It would have upset me too. But, how to keep the flies off? Lee suggested SWAT, a horse fly ointment, great for wounds.
The buck didnít mind this a bit, me smearing the hole and around his head with SWAT, particularly with the bandage now off, and it did seem to keep all flies away. So, SWAT it was. The vet called after a few days and approved us using the SWAT. The big olí fellow seems on the road of mending quickly. A few people who had had to dehorn their older bucks said it would take six weeks to heal over completely. The total cost of the medicines, the operation, and a fecal done was $94.00.
I thought that a terribly fair price to help save a good buck, to find out what a great disposition he actually had, and to see him feeling comfortable again, able to move his head and neck, in spite of the two big holes in his head that will grow over. He may be hornless, but he is a very happy hornless buck now.