Dehorning Processes

Dehorning can be described as an act of removing horns from cattle for better herd management, prevent animals staffs and themselves. It is a stressful procedure for animals and humans that carry out the operation.No one likes dehorning. In my opinion, it is the worst job on the farm. The use of local anesthetics has made the job to be much easier recently.
However, the use of polled genetics in the selection of the breeding stock has proven efficient all over the world or else farmers will continue to dehorn calves which will definitely increase production cost.
It is ideal to remove horns when calves are younger is always better.
Dehorning is better done when calves are 6 to 8 weeks of age because after this period the horn produces cells that attach to the skull. So the best practice is to disbud calves eight weeks of age and attempt to do it an age older than 8 weeks of age will be a surgical procedure that must be done by an experienced veterinarian.

Procedures For Disbudding/Dehorning

There are 2 methods that have been used over the years:

Use Of Soda

Horn cells can be killed by pasting a soda on the small horns, it is efficient if it is done at an early age. It is better to apply paste when the calves has a full belly and is unable to move around much. The hair in the horn region must be removed before applying paste is good practice.

Use Of Hot Iron

Dehorning or disbudding can be done with a hot iron and administration of local anesthesia e.g lidocaine and anti-inflammatory drugs have been shown to reduce pain and facilitate calf recovery.

During disbudding calves must be restrained properly and done by an experienced personnel or veterinarian to perfect your technique in nerve blocking calves.

Before the procedure administration of Lindocaine (2%), inject 5 ml of lindocaine into each side of the head of the animal spread all over the spot where the process is being done, repeat for the other side of the head, wait about five to ten minutes before dehorning.

After the above, then the following process must be followed:

  • Locate the horn bud;
  • Run your hand down the side of the face towards the outer corner of the eye, to feel a ridge.

Every farmer must ensure that good herd management is put in place to ensure that the great potential in every animal is maximized and creating a conducive environment for the animals to perform excellently.


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