Agri Vehicles Insurance from Greenlands

Author Topic: swaldale ram horns  (Read 500 times)


  • Joined Jan 2017
swaldale ram horns
« on: June 17, 2019, 10:41:08 pm »
Hi everyone, I've got a male swaledale ram that is just over a year old. his horns began to get tight to his head back in April so had the vet out to cut the tips off, the vet took them back as far as she could, which left them just in front of his ears. unfortunately they've carried on growing and are again tight to his head and beginning to cause a sore. is it possible to have them completely removed? I've got the vet coming out but not till next Monday, so was wondering if anyone else had had a similar experience. Thank you Daniel


  • Joined May 2010
  • South Lanarkshire
    • Wester Gladstone Hebridean Sheep
Re: swaldale ram horns
« Reply #1 on: June 18, 2019, 12:11:19 am »
You can tell which part of the horn is live and which is free of blood vessels by holding it in your fist and seeing where the warm bit stops.  Then you cut the horn a bit less than that amount to leave a margin of error.  You can cut the horn with foot shears if it's thin, or a cheese wire/bone saw thing which you can buy from the agric store (Fearing are out of stock but you can see the kind of thing).  To use that, you need someone to hold the horn and the head while you use the saw.  You can also use a hacksaw, as long as the eye is protected.  In your case, the horn will be lying alongside the face, so you may have to cut a thin slice lengthways, to keep the horn from pressing too hard until the vet comes.  If you accidentally cause bleeding by cutting too close to the area which has a blood supply (and nerves) you can stop the bleeding by applying pressure for 5 minutes, then covering the bleeding bit with cobwebs - most barns have plenty of them - choose the cleanest you can find.  The webs help the blood to clot. Horns can bleed a lot, and it would need strong sedation and cautery to remove the whole thing. The skull is not very thick and the brain is close beneath it. With our sheep (multihorned Hebrideans) the horns can curl right back towards the head and if that is left it grows straight into the face and head, into the bone, pointy end first!  Something to avoid.
Horn shape is usually controlled genetically with an 'experience' component, such as pressure from the suckling position of a young lamb.  Don't use your tup for breeding or you are breeding the problem into your flock.
See this:

« Last Edit: June 18, 2019, 12:24:18 am by Fleecewife »

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  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
Re: swaldale ram horns
« Reply #2 on: June 18, 2019, 10:03:15 am »
We trimmed the horn of one Swaley tup ourselves, thinking, from feeling for warmth, that it would be only dead horn we were removing.  Wrong, it bled profusely and the tup clearly felt it.  Not only that, he never forgave us, and we’d turned a previously well-behaved tup into a menace.

So unless it is really very obviously only a dead inch or two from the tip you need to remove, I’d recommend the vet.

It’s very common in Swaledale tups to need one or both horns trimmed right back at some stage.  No one seems to bother about it as a breeding selection criterion, sadly.

Blackface tups usually have their horns shaped by a professional, so that the problem doesn’t occur - but it’s not through breeding, it’s through intervention earlier on when the horn is still somewhat pliable. ;)
Don't listen to the money men - they know the price of everything and the value of nothing

Live in a cohousing community with small farm for our own use.  Dairy cow, beef cattle, pigs, sheep for meat and fleece, ducks and hens for eggs, veg and fruit growing


  • Joined Jul 2013
Re: swaldale ram horns
« Reply #3 on: June 18, 2019, 11:50:23 am »
You can heat the horn and then bend it... I saw this done on a black Welsh ram but can't find the video. They put a slate time between the neck and horn to protect the neck from the heat and then once the horn was hot they were able to push or bend it outwards. You'd need someone with experience to tell you how hot it needs to be etc you don't want to burn the poor thing but I always thought I'd give it a go if it was ever an issue as it's a long-term solution rather than having to chop bits off every so often. Maybe search on YouTube!

Edit * found this page 174
« Last Edit: June 18, 2019, 12:14:50 pm by roddycm »



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