No Horns vs Horns & Overheating
Corresponded with a goat rescue place, and they are pretty strong about not use disbudded or polled goats for packing because of overheating issues. I have one polled goat who hasn't carried yet but showed no sign of heat distress hiking in summer heat last year, and one disbudded goat who does overheat at times but his coat is thicker (am going to shave him.)

What is the general experience here?

Thanks for any input.
I'd say this depends on the region you are going to pack in as much as how much coat a goat has and it's overall condition. Having horns might mike the difference if you pack in desert country but not in more moderate climates.

As disbudding and breeding for polled goats carry their own animal welfare related issues/risks, I would go with horned goats.
Sabine from Germany
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I agree. Horns are only one aspect of body heat regulation. Our goat Finn has the biggest horns in our herd but has a much harder time with heat than Sputnik or old Cuzco (who had only one skinny horn). Finn is pitch black across his hindquarters and although his hair is short and sleek, it is incredibly thick. Cuzco was black across the hindquarters as well but his hair was not as thick as Finn's. Also, let's face it--Finn tends to be overweight and Cuzco was almost never overweight. Sputnik is overweight but has a roan coat with a lot of white hair that reflects the sunlight. Even a little white hair interspersed with the black makes a huge difference in helping a goat stay cool. Ears are another aspect of heat regulation. Notice that desert breeds such as the Nubian, Boer, and all the goats from India and the middle east have enormous ears. Yet most of them actually have very small horns. I even read a study that claimed wattles are significant in heat radiation even though that makes no sense to me.

I sometimes wonder if big horns attract more heat than they disperse. Horns are dark so they heat up significantly in the sun. This can be great in winter but not so great hiking in summer sun. The cold climate Swiss breeds all have bigger horns than their desert cousins. I'm not sure how significant this is, though, because many other species of horned animals from desert climates have gigantic horns, and some cold climate species have tiny ones (think mountain goats). Mountain goats and mountain sheep evolved in similar climates and look at the differences in horn size! Because of all these differences, I think horns can't be as significant to heat regulation as we tend to believe. I think body color actually makes the biggest difference, with coat thickness and fitness being two other factors that are more important than horns.
Great opinions so far.  I'd tend to agree with the coat color/thickness in my limited experience.  My polled guy is white with a thin coat - with his pink skin I sometimes think of albino Smile and heat just doesn't seem to be a problem for him. In fact he seems to love to sit in the hot sun.
My 2 brown polled, and 2 disbudded Oberhasli have never seemed bothered by heat. Granted they drink more water in the heat. How do you explain the white Sannen's reputation of being heat intolerant? Stories told speak of heat intolerance over 80 degrees.
And my polled guy is a white Saanen/Alpine cross, ha! I guess there is no answer.... except maybe just an individual goat thing. Great info on your Obers! Good to know.

(My Ober is really shedding now, brushed a bunch of beige soft fluffy stuff off of him, must be some kind of undercoat coming off. I don't recall that last spring, anyway that should help as we warm up. The new trimmer is still in its box... I will suck it up and get to it!)
I haven't heard of Saanens struggling with heat before. Interesting.
My source for the Saanen heat intolerance came from John Mionczynski book The Pack Goat. In talking about the Saanen breed John notes, "A pink hide and pure white hair is linked to a tendency to overheat in hot weather, and this holds true for Saanens that have been crossbred with other breeds." pg 28. He believes there may be a common link between pigmentation patterns and different traits in a goat.
I live in the desert and here's my take: There is no ultimate truth and that each goat is unique in regards to overheating.

I totally agree that mountain sheep and mountain goats living next to each other tends to make me think horns matter less than people think.

Body shape may have something to do with it. I have a cardboard-cut-out Alpine and a Lamancha with that beer-belly conformation-- Both are black and hornless. The thicker goat tends to overheat first on the trail. Is it a big deal? Not in my experience. They both keep up, but it is something I've noticed. On the other hand, I have another Alpine who has a thicker body and horns, and he seems to function about as well as the skinny one.

I have a half Alpine - half Saanan doe goat that has brown fur. She does tend to reliably overheat slightly sooner than the pure Alpines but you cant blame white fur for that.
Saanans *may* overheat sooner, but otherwise I don't see a reliable pattern.

Just when you think you've figured it out, an individual goat breaks the pattern you think you see. That being the case, I no longer worry much about color, horns, breed, or body style and just concentrate on personality, which is the all-important aspect of a pack goat to me.
I don't drink beer, but if I did, I'd prefer Dos Equis.  Stay thirsty my friends!
My Saanen Doe does good in the heat. I've never really worked her crazy hard, only up to a mile in 70 degree weather. She did get hot but never started panting.
Happiness is a working goat

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