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Wednesday, 29 October 2008 17:09

Castration, disbudding and tail docking - not nice but necessary!

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For just about as long as animals have been farmed, they’ve been routinely subjected to several surgical procedures that make it easier for their owners to manage them - and they make life easier for the animals too.

Castration helps curb the natural aggression of bulls, rams and bucks and prevents unwanted pregnancies.

Disbudding or dehorning makes it safer for people to handle cattle and goats, and makes it less likely they will damage each other.

Tail docking of lambs helps keep the tail end of sheep clean, reducing the risk of flystrike.

Castration, disbudding/dehorning and tail docking are potentially painful procedures and all are generally less traumatic if they are carried out while the animal is young.

All these procedures require skill, and owners should consult a veterinarian to make sure they know how to do the job properly.

For calves and goat kids, castration and disbudding can be carried out at the same time, but because they both cause pain the double procedure is best carried out by a veterinarian who can use sedatives, pain killers and/or anaesthetics.

Lambs can be castrated and docked at the same time. Use of rubber rings at 1 to 2 weeks of age means the procedure is quick and safe and the pain is transient.


Dr Marjorie Orr, lifestyle farmer and veterinarian (retired)

Dr Marjorie Orr - veterinarian and lifestyle farmer. Dr Orr is a recognised authority on animal welfare in New Zealand and has served on several government committees, especially those concerned with writing codes of welfare for sheep and dogs. Her service to animal health and welfare has also been recognised by awards from the NZ Veterinary Association and MAF. She is also a strong SPCA supporter.

Website: www.lifestyleblock.co.nz/images/imgDrMarjorieOrr.jpg
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