Celebration of the “Goatiness of Goats”
I could not agree more with the sentiments so beautifully expressed in Joel Salatin's book The Marvelous Pigness of Pigs: Respecting and Caring for All God's Creation. As a person of deep faith and practicing Biodynamic farmer, I ask deep and sometimes difficult questions. “What does a food and farming system look like that exemplifies spiritual truths?” Can I disfigure one of God's perfect creatures so that it may fit more reasonably into what I think my farm should like, and still represent the highest degree of faith to my Creator? For many, if they have asked that question at all, the answer is no.
My chickens are not debeaked, and are in fact allowed to range freely over the pastures to scratch, peck or dust, to express their most innate chickeness. My piglets tails are not docked, nor are their teeth cut, and they are free to rut and dig as they please. My cows are not dehorned, and they are most happy lounging in an open field chewing their cud under the late afternoon sun. In essence, my choice to refrain from disbudding my goat kids is only a natural and well integrated practice on my farm.
If the Spiritual Stuff is Not Good Enough
I understand that for many who farm, it is indeed not enough. Consider that horns, having been part of the Goat's ancestors lives for many hundreds of thousands of years, have very real physiological functions.
- Horns are social organs. Horns are used to establish pecking order within the herd. Horns protect the skull from concussion and impact; they are flexible and establish a ready barrier the the comparably thin skull. The goat instinct to butt one another in play, defense or aggression is very deep, and is not removed with their horns. They will not learn to protect their own skull if that protection is taken.
- Horns are a thermoregulatory organ; dispersing heat in summer and conserving it in winter. A hornless goat is more likely to suffer heat stroke or suffer ill effects from sudden temperature fluctuation than a horned one.
- Horns are an accurate reflection of the animal's overall health, condition, and constitution. They serve as indicators to determine how old the animal is, how well it metabolizes feed, and how often it becomes ill.
- Horns are incredible tools, serving both the goat during it's lifetime, and its discerning caretaker after it has passed. They serve as working appendages to assist goats with small daily tasks, and act as a ready handle for the caretaker. Horns are used for a number of tools and crafts; creating beautiful artwork or serviceable implements for the farmer.
- Horns are beautiful. Although maybe not to all, horns add an element of nobility and grace to the aesthetics of the goat. Each set are entirely unique to that individual, telling the story of that animal's life. In the practice of Biodynamic Agriculture, the horns of a female animal born on the farm are ritually buried for a season, to return to the earth what was grown from it in the form of grass, to goat, to soil once again.
For those interested in reading an article of the same name by the International Dairy Goat Registry, please visit
For your convenience I have attached downloadable documents pertaining to Goat Care, with listed resources. This is the usual package I give to anyone who buys goats from me!