Friday, February 17, 2012

Poor Valentino

We used to call Valentino the One-Horn-Wonder. One of his horns was repeatedly knocked off in his struggle to the top of the pecking order in our barnyard.  It has now stopped growing completely. The other curled tightly to his face.  I've heard horror stories of rams' horns causing enormous facial damage so I was watching the growth of this horn.  I thought it was going to clear his eye...

Then, all of a sudden, we noticed it wasn't.  In fact it was preventing his eye from closing.  We decided to deal with it immediately.  After reading how-to's online, we grabbed some tools and got ready.
This is how it was performed by a vet over at The Yeoman Farmer... or so I thought.  Turns out that muzzle action is a crucial difference.  We just had a poor scared ram choking himself.  
 In the end, the winning combination was a muzzling harness (of which we only have 1) around his head, tieing his back legs up and stretched way back, winding his front legs together with the rope from the harness, me laying on top of him holding him still, Husbandman weilding the hacksaw, thick cardboard protecting his eye, ear and face from the blade  and a WHOLE lot of GRIT.  Horns bleed, hence the blood, but they don't have nerves.  Once the horn was removed, I poured iodine over it to clean it and applied ground cayene pepper as a blood stop, all the time protecting his eye.  He doesn't look good, but I assure you, he looks much better now and certainly better than if his eye had been gouged out with his own horn.

Several places online said not to take them to a vet to do it, that a vet will put them under and surgically remove the horn and prevent any further growth.  Doing so would be a huge expense and more stressful to the animal.  The anestetic would take a good deal of time to recover from not to mention the stress and difficulty of transporting an animal.

Hind sight though... I think we should have considered a vet.  Not so much because of what it was, but rather HOW it had to be done.  Because his horn was curled so closely to his face, it was very scary, more so for us than for him, though he didn't exactly appreciate what we were doing to him either.  It might have been a longer recovery time for him (especially since as soon as he was on his feet and given a bucket of grain, he seemed to forget all about it), but I wouldn't want to take my chances again with a hacksaw so close to an eye with only cardboard and the sound of it cutting to know if he was in imminent danger of blindness.  Instead, Husbandman and I were the ones needing to recover.  We were shaky and on edge.  Husbandman barked at Dulci that she needed to have her babies NOW because he needed a baby to hold.  Something about a sweet baby, of any species, that calms the nerves.
Not to belittle Valentino, but here's an example of a nice set of horns.  Of course they belong to a goat and not a ram so they lack the genetic code to curl.
Here he is a day after.  His fur is still stained with iodine and blood.  But he didn't run from us as I was scared he would.  By now, almost 3 weeks later, he looks totally fine... just like a ram with no horns.

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