Cattle with horns are dangerous to people and other animals and are removed for welfare reasons. The process of removing horns in young cattle is referred to as calf disbudding or calf dehorning. This is a service provided to our farm clients and lifestyle block holders by Cambridge Veterinary Services.
Calves are generally disbudded by a team of qualified staff including
a veterinarian, when they are between 2-6 weeks of age (less stressful to the calf and the handler). The procedure involves heavily sedating all calves and the administration of local anaesthetic to the surrounding area. Additional pain relief in the form of NSAIDs can also given upon request. This method of disbudding ensures the horn buds are removed effectively at the correct time, with a minimum of pain
and discomfit to the animal.
While the calves are sedated, ear tags can be easily applied, navels can be checked for infection and extra teats that will interfere with future milking can be removed. Calves can also be given their first sensitizing dose of clostridial 5 n 1 vaccine.
Figure 1: Sedated calves ready for dehorning