A Cautionary Tale About Goats and Halters

Ahhh, spring in the Midwest …

Three weeks ago it snowed several inches.

Two weeks ago it rained several inches.

Last week it was practically perfect in every way!

Which was great, because that’s the week the vet was making his annual farm visit to look over our goats. The children were on spring break, so they tagged along to watch and learn. This year for 4-H, they’re taking the goats as home projects and wanted to be able to ask questions and lend a hand.

Our vet began by examining the two smallest ones … GB (Goat Boy) and Tardis (any Dr. Who fans?). He slipped the halter on them one at a time, looked each over, answered questions from the children, and then administered the goats’ annual CDT vaccination.

Next up was Glowbug … as soon as the halter was slipped on and secured, it was obvious he was in distress. He began kicking and swinging his head, he was desperately trying to get away from us. Always a gentle goat, I knew something was wrong. His behavior wasn’t typical at all … he’s always friendly with strangers and has worn a halter in the past.

As I was holding the lead rope, I found myself behind him, while the vet was kneeling by Glowbug’s side trying to calm him. As Glowbug turned his head toward me, I could see his tongue was out. When I pointed this out to the vet, he immediately slipped the halter noseband higher and Glowbug settled down instantly.

A quick examination revealed a short nasal bone … making the halter a potential suffocation threat. After we calmed Glowbug down and completed the examination, we moved on to Bud … his brother.

Sure enough, even with the halter placed higher on his nose, he also began to kick. This time we immediately slid the halter farther up, and he was just fine. Evidently these brothers both have a shorter than average nasal bone.

Lesson learned … always make sure a halter is properly fitted. From now on we will doublecheck the fit of a halter each time we put one on. Just because it was fine the last time we used it, doesn’t mean we can rely on that same fit every time we need it.

Correct halter fit, for any animal, is essential. Not only for their comfort, but, as we discovered, for their safety.

  • Published on Apr 17, 2015
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