Smallholders Insurance from Greenlands

Author Topic: Dehorning a young ram  (Read 6205 times)


  • Joined Jan 2015
Dehorning a young ram
« on: June 30, 2015, 09:15:51 am »
Advice please! I have a 2 yr old Texel (possibly a cross breed) ram whose horn keeps growing into his eye socket. When I got him, this horn was a bit loose and he tore part of it off somehow (with copious bleeding!). The tip grew back at a strange angle and was going into his eye, so I had the vet out to take the tip off. The whole horn is now growing at this angle and again pressing onto the top of his eye socket.

I think my options are 1) send him for slaughter (but is he too old for the meat to be edible?) or 2) get the vet out to remove the horn at the base and hope it doesn't grow back or 3) (as has been suggested on another forum) put a bull band on the base of the horn and wait for it to drop off.

I'd be sad to send him away because he's a lovely character and I was hoping to get some nice meaty lambs for the freezer next year from my non-registered Shetland ewes.  On the other hand I can't afford to keep getting the vet out to him, I've already spent more than he's worth.

Ideas and advice would be more than welcome.


  • Joined Feb 2012
Re: Dehorning a young ram
« Reply #1 on: June 30, 2015, 09:55:10 am »
Here the farmers would deal with the horn themselves, taking off the offending bit with a special wire, which is probably what your vet did?

Ask someone with sheep close to you to help you.  :fc:


  • Joined Mar 2012
  • South Wales
Re: Dehorning a young ram
« Reply #2 on: June 30, 2015, 10:03:49 am »
1) send him for slaughter
He's not too old at all and will be very tasty.  Now is a good time of year to send him off before he starts getting all hormonal in the autumn.

Don't keep problem sheep - the likelihood is that his offspring will have similar problems.  Buy yourself a new one with better horn structure.
« Last Edit: June 30, 2015, 11:04:25 am by Foobar »


  • Joined Jan 2015
Re: Dehorning a young ram
« Reply #3 on: June 30, 2015, 10:20:11 am »
Harmony, the vet did use wire but the tip she removed was already dead. She did say that cutting through the living horn would bleed a lot and cause him pain, and that she would give him a local and antibiotics.  I might contact my neighbour who has sheep and is usually helpful.

Foobar - I thought by his age the flavour would have got very strong?  I think this horn is possibly misshapen because of a previous bungled de-horning (before I got him).  His offspring will be off to the abattoir before their horns have a chance to grow this big.

Thank you both for the replies. I think the truth is, I've got attached to him.


  • Joined May 2010
  • South Lanarkshire
    • ScotHebs
Re: Dehorning a young ram
« Reply #4 on: June 30, 2015, 11:57:21 am »
Texel horns are usually rudimentary aren't they?  But they will still bleed profusely if you cut through a live bit - we are still re-dressing a shearling tup who knocked his side horn right off and is left with a hole into his skull.  Sheep horns are very sensitive and cause pain if cut/broken.
I'm surprised the vet used a wire - doesn't usually work for a wobbly horn, as you need to apply quite a bit of pressure.  We use bolt croppers or foot shears to take the tips off poorly placed horns if they're wobbly. Cheese wire if they're firm.   You can tell if you are beyond the live bit by holding the horn in your hand - live is warm, nothing but horn is cool (it's not that it's dead, just that the inner core, which has a blood supply, doesn't extend to the tip).  You could decide to cut the end off yourself every time it grew closer to the eye socket.  Horn growth slows and stops with an older tup, so it won't go on forever.

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  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
    • Trelay Cohousing Community
Re: Dehorning a young ram
« Reply #5 on: June 30, 2015, 12:19:14 pm »
In my experience Texels don't have horns at all, so I'd say that yes, your boy is a cross.  Doesn't stop him being a good tup, of course.

As you like him so much I would just keep taking the tip off the horn with bolt cutters or cheese wire.  Or get the vet to do a once-only operation and remove the whole thing (or nearly), using anaesthetic, of course.  If you do the latter, do it when the weather is cooler and there are no flies about, and not during or immediately before tupping. 

One other option might be to get the horn bent; there are people who do this with show and special tups, but I'm not sure if it can be done with older boys, nor where there is only a wee bit of a horn.

My Shetland tup Chad has horns which grow close to his head.  We have to take a couple of inches off periodically or it gets tangled in the wool at the back of his neck and would in time make him hold his head forward or have the horn grow into his neck.  I was talking to a Shetland Sheep Society ram assessor about him, and she said that where only one horn does this, if it was a twin, they assume it may be due to compression in the womb and do not mark the tup down.  She didn't think it would stop him being approved as a ram if I wished to go that route, even though it's both horns (though one is more pronounced than the other.)

I've had Swaledale tups where I've needed to remove the majority of one horn.  If you have someone very experienced with the cheese wire, who can go fast enough to built up heat, it cauterises as it cuts, which stops any wee bits of blood.  However, if the cut has to be further up the horn where the horn is still warm, then I would take the tup to the vet every time.  Ours did a tourniquet at the base of the horn to reduce the blood flowing into the horn, then removed the horn (under anaesthetic of course.)  The tup who had it done at the vets didn't hate us afterwards ;)
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