View Full Version : Emergency (?) help/advice required for disbudding (calf) gone wrong

20th December 2010, 04:30 PM
Took calf in today for disbudding (local vet). Calf is a 14 week old Jersey heifer. Bit of a mess and bleeding from horn on one side, but hot iron stopped most of it, but was still trickling blood. Vet assured us it would clot. Checked on her (this was around 1pm that she had the horns done) a couple of hours ago, which was around 3:30. Blood still just trickling. Went out to do chores a little while ago, and the whole side of her head, shoulder and leg covered in blood, and her eye is glued shut from the blood drying and it's still bleeding. Actively bleeding, not just a trickle, and she's making it worse by whacking at it with her rear leg.

Have rung vet and for am following her instructions, which is to apply pressure and ice for 15 minutes (my daughter is out doing that now) to see if that helps, as well as using some warm water to de-crust her eye. God, I got a fright when I saw her trotting over to see what I had in my bucket...

Any other advice while we do this and ring the vet back? Anyone been through this and have any suggestions?


20th December 2010, 04:41 PM
Black powder.... charcoal.... My goat breeder friend said it works great, she brought a few sheep over to our place to graze down the bits the goats weren't eating and they'd just been shorn... I asked her what the dirty marks were and she said the shearer had nicked a couple of them (which happens) so she put Black Powder on them to stop the bleeding. She explained that 'Black Powder' was fine charcoal and it works really fast.

If you don't have any of that, compression. That's what I did for Atticus Finch when he knocked his the bit where one of his horns used to be, blood everywhere and still trickling, eye glued shut with blood, very similar to you're situation but he was a week old buck kid, not a calf.

I know with birds you can put flour on the bit that is bleeding but then the pressure of the blood coming out may not be as much as a calf. If it doesn't work, it would just get real messy.

Sounds like you're doing the right thing with the icepack and compression.

Maybe once the bleeding has slowed down you could put an iodine soaked pad on it and try wrapping it in place, even if you have to use sticky bandage or something, just for an hour or two.... just an idea.

Let us know how you get on.


20th December 2010, 04:45 PM
I meant to say, an iodine pad and pack it so the bandage puts pressure on that area.
I say 'sticky bandage' cos I know animals are really good at removing plain bandages, hell, even duct tape might work, as long as it holds the packing in place long enough for the pressure to stop the bleeding.


20th December 2010, 04:52 PM
um ahhh um .. hey i maybe totaly wrong .. BUT to me, you paid Vet ( who in my opinion is supposed to be great at animal things, there for you shouldnt have had any probs) to do the disbudding.
So the way i see it is ... The blood closed eye and the pro-longed bleeding should NOT have happened
I agree your doing best you can and following advice :) ,,, but you paid for a service, so you shouldnt have to fix it yourselves :(
personally i would be following advice today .. if problem not fixed with in a few hours, would be back on phone and demnanding answers, and a visit at no charge to you to fix the problem
One thing that real gets up my nose , is when you pay some expert to do something you cant do yourself ( or you wouldnt have paid them in the first place) and if something goes wrong they dont fix it pronto :(

20th December 2010, 04:54 PM
True, Stu, true.


20th December 2010, 04:57 PM
Yeah, the compression and ice not helping too much, so rang vet again and she's on her way out. Asked directly if we were going to be stung for an after hours call out and she said no. Ugh... calf really not happy. Have just got all the blood off her eye... she even had some congealed blood in her eye poor girl. With this heat and the flies I'm really worried about fly strike, so I'm going to be sure to get all the blood off after the vet leaves. Poor wee girl!!!! Her name is Patience, and she certainly is the picture of it at the moment!

Just popped in to see if anyone here had any ideas, and grab a couple of towels to dry her off... I keep reminding myself to get some of that black powder, and I keep forgetting!! This will teach me, eh? Thanks for the reminder, Yakut. Will also do the iodine as well, but she'll probably have a bandage off right quick. I'll try some vet wrap to hold it in place and check her before bed... sigh....

So much for mr. pig who was due to go in the freezer in a little while... so much for best laid plans, and mr pig lives another day to annoy me...

20th December 2010, 05:15 PM
:) great to hear Vet on way Andrea .. and so they should be to as they caused the problem not you
PaTience sounds like a perfect name for her :)
please keep us update on her progress as some of us are very interested and worried .. we do care :)

20th December 2010, 05:53 PM
Vet been and gone, more lidocaine in the head (so hopefully Patience will leave it alone for a while!), and lots more cauterising. Ugh, smelt like a BBQ coming off her head, poor thing. There was even congealed blood clogging up her nostril on that side, probably from the goo I found in her eye as it was flowing down. She's all cleaned up, gunked up halter off, and she's nibbling hay with the goats. Vet said it looked like the bone hadn't been completely cauterised in the first place, and that's what kept bleeding. Part of me wanted to leave Patience in the mess that prompted me to ring the vet, but I couldn't let her sit there with her eye glued shut and flies crawling all over her head. So by the time the vet got here, she was pretty tidy, except for the blood that was on her should and down her leg. My son even found blood dripped all the way up the lane in the main paddock area, which was a trail of blood about 200m long. EEK!

I was so worried when I first saw her, you know you get so attached to them, and she's real sweetie, and our new house cow to be in a couple of years, hopefully. When Dottie went down to Jo, we said we'd not have a cow for a couple of years, but the place seemed empty without one. We were only without a bovine for 3 months![:I][:I][:D]

Sorry to be rambling, thanks for the replies and advice. Time to get some dinner going, finally, and feed the howling kids (4-leggeds!).

20th December 2010, 06:08 PM
How heavy is she? assuming 80kg then she has approx 8 litres of blood and she can afford to lose about 10% of that with no issues . Now put it in perspective - 800ml looks like a massacre and not really a problem. the comment you made about "trotting up to see what was in the bucket"" said more to me that the eye glued shut bit.

Not unusual to get a bleeder especially in this warm weather - they are horns and they do have blood vessels.

All dealt with now and apart from your visual concern of the blood the animal is fine by the sounds of it.

20th December 2010, 06:54 PM
Well, on reflection, both my children agree that she was staggering more than trotting, as she isn't usually where I pass through to feed the chooks in the evening, she's with her mates eating.

Yes, she seems fine, and probably not as bad as it actually looked, but I've dealt with dozens of goat disbuddings that have never produced such a blood bath, so perhaps you might understand my concern. THe vet herself said that the horn was probably not cauterised properly in the first place. She came out and took care of it, and was happy that it was no longer bleeding (and now an hour later, it still isn't, and with the extra jab of lidocaine, the heifer isn't bothering it anymore).

20th December 2010, 07:11 PM
Having been there and done that, the best way to stop bleeding is by pressure, so for next time.... first have cotton wool balls unravelled and made into a donut that goes around the circle of burn, but not the centre, adds to the local pressure and that acts as a clot binder... fold up flannels or old sheeting into a roll, put from back to front then get a crepe bandage, it does need to be stretchy material and bind around the head like the world war one pictures. making sure that the calf can still breath but not much else.. and leave in a dark corner... also blood in the eye looks awful but wont do permanent damage.. while you wait!!!
When I disbudd, I always put tincture of benzoin which is an antiseptic/ styptic on the area and put cotton wool on that, may only last 5 mins of goats flicking their heads but the fibres stick to any oozers.. and also acts as fly deterrent..
after 4 hrs of the pressure dressing, I take it down to the cotton wool and place a less rolled rag, and pop pantyhose over the head, the seat for calves, the leg for goats.. making eye holes and ear holes.. and they wear that for 4 days..
that has only been necessary for post vet cautery that has become infected on day 3-5
none of my disbudding has ever become infected, but then I dont knock the centre off but leave it as the primary dressing.
I also dont use lidocaine with adrenaline, just straight.

spiders webs can act as antibleed but dont fit too well on horn bases, and lettuce leaves is another dressing, slightly bruised, or anything with high vit k... if you want to go totally herbal..
but yes its a sight to behold...
Oh and all bleeding stops at some stage!!!!!!!!
hope you managed to have a sherry afterwards

20th December 2010, 07:16 PM
Think its like a knock on our forehead "blood for miles' well looks like it but really not that much as cowvet said. Glad you have a good vet to come and fix also put your mind at rest :)

20th December 2010, 08:04 PM
[QUOTE=Andrea;350598]Took calf in today for disbudding (local vet)/QUOTE]

It is possible she took a knock in trailer loading/unloading etc?

best way we found was vet would give local to buds & general (calf knocked out) then would burn off buds, cut off extra teats, put brass tags in, 7 in 1 vacc. All the while walking round the yard or pen of sleeping calves. They usually spent the rest of day rather zonked out... rather than standing round rubbing a sore head with back leg.

Next day would be like nothing happened

20th December 2010, 09:12 PM
cobwebs and talcum powder stop bleeding

21st December 2010, 08:10 AM
Out of interest Andrea, why wasnt she done at an earlier age? I de-horn mine at 4-8 weeks, before the buds are too big, makes it alot easier on animal and human.

21st December 2010, 08:22 AM
When I rang the vet initially he said pretty much anything up to about 6 months was ok, as long as the nubs weren't very big, and hers had stayed quite tiny, about 1.5 cm bumps. Cow people I've spoken to in the area say they'd done theirs even later, so I was sort of going based on advice from people who know far more than I about cattle. We've only ever taken the buds off one calf years back, when it was one we were keeping on for 2 years for the freezer. All the rest have been either polled or horns weren't an issue because of the age they were destined for the freezer. But with the Jersey heifer, she's the house cow to be, and I really didn't want horns on her, running with the goats as she will be.

21st December 2010, 08:22 AM
She's fine now, looking freshly scrubbed this morning, and she really did come trotting up for her feed.

21st December 2010, 08:24 AM
:) great to hear shes ok Andrea :)

21st December 2010, 10:08 AM
I suggest that when you get the next one done, try doing it at 6 weeks. The main problem that I've found when doing it this young is that it is a bit more easy to miss a bit, so that a little knob grows. But if it really needs to be removed, this little knob is easier to remove than a horn.

21st December 2010, 10:25 AM
I read this thread with interest ( and trepidation) as we have a 6 month friesian heifer still to be done. She missed being done with the neighbours as a young calf, and I wasnt worried because I thought we could just get the vet out to do it at any age. The only reason we are getting her done is that she will be our house cow in a few years.

21st December 2010, 10:33 AM
we do thousands a year at about 2 weeks of age - they are knocked down with a sedative and then local is used prior to a hot debudder. None are left bleeding but occassionally 1-2 a year (out of thousands!) we have to return to stop a bleeder that has started up as the calf has started to move around etc.

My opinion is that the older the calves are when they are disbudded then the more likely you are to get a bleeder and the more likely you are to get a horn that may partially regrow etc. This can occur when the horn growing tissue is a bit wider than the debudder ring and not all is killed off.

21st December 2010, 01:42 PM
The things we do to our animals! [xx(]

I don't mean this in any judgmental way. Just fills me bit with sadness how our animals have to go through stuff like this.



21st December 2010, 01:59 PM
We did our wee jersey girl at 3 wks and it was done at cowvet suggested, with a sedative and then a local. She was awake and on her feet again within 2 hrs with no ill affects. She did obviously knock it a few weeks later but it didn't bleed a lot and healed over again pretty quickly.

21st December 2010, 02:49 PM
We used to put stockholm tar on to the bud area after dehorning, then that seals nicely, and even rain will not cause any problems, and after a few weeks that drops off to leave a nicely healed site.

21st December 2010, 03:03 PM
Thanks, everyone, have learned heaps. I have seen what a cow can do with her horns when she's playing, and with the way we have goats and cattle beasts in together, especially in winter at feeding out time, I would hate for a goat to not be able to get out of the way in time. So, yep, in this case, horns off, Peter. Goats' horns get nowhere near as pointy as a cow's and a goat doesn't throw her head around the way a cow does (not to mention the goat is about 5 times smaller than a cow!).

21st December 2010, 04:48 PM
The things we do to our animals! [xx(]

I don't mean this in any judgmental way. Just fills me bit with sadness how our animals have to go through stuff like this.


PeterDehorn at conception!!! :D

21st December 2010, 11:14 PM
The things we do to our animals! [xx(]

I don't mean this in any judgmental way. Just fills me bit with sadness how our animals have to go through stuff like this.



Only some animals Peter[:D]

24th December 2010, 08:41 PM
i know this is a bit late for you but for future ref tar works well, thats what i use every year & have not lost a single calf, i got the 1st lot of tar from the vet but tree tar works well. its what they use when a tree has a gash & is bleeding.
i have also been through the whole putting the calf to sleep & disbudding them i personally thought that was alot crueler than doing them as older calves & just whooping them off with tar applied then let out.