Reasons NOT to dehorn

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10 years 8 months ago #467018 by carlyjean
Replied by carlyjean on topic Reasons NOT to dehorn
Ok! Thanks to everyone who has given me a lot to think about! I will try and get hold of Hohepa and ask some Qs but maybe best to go against some of my values for the greater safety issue?

I gathered that the best way to de-horn is to give a local anaesthetic? My stepfather is a vet so could easily do the job. How painful is the hornex paste?

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10 years 8 months ago #467029 by max2
Replied by max2 on topic Reasons NOT to dehorn

carlyjean;469280 wrote: Ok! Thanks to everyone who has given me a lot to think about! I will try and get hold of Hohepa and ask some Qs but maybe best to go against some of my values for the greater safety issue?

I gathered that the best way to de-horn is to give a local anaesthetic? My stepfather is a vet so could easily do the job. How painful is the hornex paste?


The vets won't hand out the LA to do the job as they are a restricted item and you need to go through an assessment thingo with the vet (although i suppose having one in the family might see the rules lax a little). Not the normal vet interview to stock AB's and such like, but a full on assessment. I made enquiries to go through the process and never heard back....

Check with your Stepfather if he is happy to do it for you. Quick and simple for someone with experience with a de-budder and aerotet forte applied thereafter.

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10 years 8 months ago #467030 by Barclay
Replied by Barclay on topic Reasons NOT to dehorn
Hornex paste is more painful (there's no local anesthetic), less reliable and has some nasty potential side-effects.

The most humane method is sedation, local anaesthetic and a jab of some sort of pain relief.

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10 years 8 months ago #467031 by Betheder
Replied by Betheder on topic Reasons NOT to dehorn
Just a comment about the common contention that horns are "natural"...
A polled cow is no less a cow (and no less natural) just because it is born without horns...

Our first house-cow had horns, and was dam-raised... no bond with people, and she couldn't have cared less if she'd hurt someone. She was our first cow, and was on her own (except while we had her daughter).
She did turn on me once - thankfully the worst result was a large bruise on my arm that stopped me from being able to milk for a few days (couldn't clench my fist sufficiently).
Needless to say, she became VERY yummy beef at about 5 1/2 years old, by which time my small, hand-raised, dis-budded, replacement (Jersey) was in calf. And the latter is a much better sized cow for our little block!

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10 years 8 months ago #467032 by Inger
Replied by Inger on topic Reasons NOT to dehorn
I've found the best method for dehorning is to get the vet in to inject painkillers around the horn buds, then the vet uses a hot iron thing to burn the bud off, or if the horn has started to grow, she lops the top off with a dehorner, before using the hot iron on the stump to kill off the horn growing tissue. It works really well, with few regrowth issues and, because the calves are in twilight sleep, there's no emotional trauma for them and they're not scared of people later.

Most of my Dexter cows are born polled, so we usually don't have many calves to dehorn each year. I'm breeding toward a polled herd, as the way they head butt each other during hay feeding is bad enough, but if they had horns, it would get nasty fast and it's the animals lower on the pecking order that cop it the worse. I could imagine there'd be dead calves each year, if we left the horns on. At least with non-horned cattle, the hierarchy in the herd isn't fatal.

45 hectares between Whangarei and Paparoa. Registered Dexter cattle, Wiltshire sheep - black, white & pied.
New Hampshire Red poultry & Dorking poultry. Pilgrim Geese, Appleyard Ducks.
A cat called Pusscat and still looking for another heading dog.

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10 years 8 months ago #467040 by RaeM
Replied by RaeM on topic Reasons NOT to dehorn
In the past we have had to get a vet out to a mare that was horned in the side by a fresian bill that had horns, then within a few weeks he managed to get our imported stallion and just missed the main throat vein, so he lost his horns really quickly and was then sold to the works. I have had a daughter horned by her pet Jersey heifer, and that was not nice, at the moment we have cattle that the 5 biggest ones have had the tips off, as they were getting stroppy with the younger cattle, and have 5 little ones lining up for the tips off their horns in the next few months. WE use Stockolm Tar on the horns as it stops bleeding, even the little calves that we have had done, as it seals better than anything else, and they dont get infections, even if it rains.

RaeM

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10 years 8 months ago #467045 by Barclay
Replied by Barclay on topic Reasons NOT to dehorn
The only reason not to dehorn I can think of, is if they are an 'essential' part of the breed.

For example highlands, long-horns or watusi.

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10 years 8 months ago #467048 by igor
Replied by igor on topic Reasons NOT to dehorn
I was quite happy with my dehorned highlanders. They were delicious and their hairy skins made lovely mats. I believe there are a few breeders aiming for polled highlanders. Best of luck to them.

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10 years 8 months ago #467053 by Cigar
Replied by Cigar on topic Reasons NOT to dehorn
We get the vet in to do the "full service" option with the kids ag day calves (sedation, etc). It doesn't seem to worry them much at all.
We didn't do the foster steers last year, as we were trying to mother them onto our cow and didn't want to upset things, then the horns got too big for disbudding. They are now 16 moths old, and a couple of months ago one of them had a big rip down the side of his neck, probably caused by the horns of the other one.
A few years ago on the dairy farm in Taranaki we had one cow with horns, she was an absolute b****, she used to deal to the other cows on the platform, caused absolute chaos, you could see the panic in the eyes of the other cows who couldn't get out of the way. We ended up getting her dehorned - not pleasant but the only other option was kill her (or sell her, but that is just passing on the problem to someone else).
I'd be fairly sure that the animal is subjected to less pain and distress being disbudded as a calf compared to being dehorned as a cow.

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10 years 8 months ago #467059 by Anne
Replied by Anne on topic Reasons NOT to dehorn
I have a highland steer who wasn't de-horned as a calf - because you don't de-horn highlands! He is quiet and well handled. I can put a halter on him and lead him. A few weeks ago I had to get the vets in to de-horn him because:
  • His horns were not very sensitive and so he would flatten electric fences.
  • He used his horns to push down an electric gate and got out onto the road one night
  • When I fed out hay or baleage, he'd pull off a chunk of baleage with a jerk and a twist - if I was in the way, it would have been very easy to be caught by his horns - he wasn't doing it on purpose, but because he is so friendly and well handled, he didn't worry about coming close to the trailer.
  • He bullied the other cattle - he'd stand in the gate and not let them past or near the water trough and not let them near. I never saw him using his horns on the others, but they were always very wary of him.
  • He didn't fit up the cattle race / crush because his horns were so wide.

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10 years 8 months ago #467062 by Stikkibeek
Replied by Stikkibeek on topic Reasons NOT to dehorn
When we were actively milking our herd, we had a variety of cows, some dehorned,some with horns. We often got cows with bruised udders and blood in the milk and it was all down to the ones that had horns as they know they have them and make good use of them, becoming very bossy.
We have a 4yo jersey here that has horns, and while she is quiet and good to handle, there are times when she is either bossing the others, or the goat, the foals and sometimes she will cheekily stampede down a hill behind us, tossing her head about and run very close. I am very conscious that an accidental toss at the wrong moment, still has huge potential to hurt us. Next time we have older animals that need dehorning, I will ask the vet about doing her too.

Did you know, that what you thought I said, was not what I meant :S

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10 years 8 months ago #467075 by Furball
Replied by Furball on topic Reasons NOT to dehorn
If you are concerned about causing distress to the animal, then the earlier the better for dehorning. The vet procedure seems as stress-free as it's possible to be - vet jabs calf which then goes down, vet dehorns by burning out the horn buds and gives a jab of painkiller and the calf is up and about again very quickly.

Of course, the most stress-free way is to use a polled sire next time you wish to breed your cow, then you won't need to worry about this a second time.

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10 years 8 months ago #467086 by Ronney
Replied by Ronney on topic Reasons NOT to dehorn

Ruth;469237 wrote: Do a search on this and look for Ronney's posts. She has horned Jerseys in her small milking herd and has posted on this issue before.


Carly, I don't suppose you did the search but as Ruth's post suggests, I do NOT dehorn my milking cows and never have done. Even today, my herd consists of mainly horned cows and those that aren't have been bought in and were dehorned before I bought them. I run an Angus bull as a terminal sire not because they happen to be polled but because they produce a good calf put over a Jersey or Jersey cross which is mainly what I have.

I have recently bought in two 6 month old Ayreshire calves which had not been dehorned and nor will they be.

I have never been threatened or injured by horns and perhaps much of this comes about from my handling of them in the first place. I have a very close relationship with all my cows but from word go they are never allowed to play-push or push me about in any way at all. I am boss cow and my word, stick, stones I throw at them :D , voice and dog are law, depending on the situation. Nor do I have a problem running horned and dehorned cattle together - I certainly do not have mashed up, dehorned cows coming in to be milked.

Ruth and I had a discussion about horns some years ago and she made the comment that did cows make allowances for their horns and did I make allowances for them too when in action. I hadn't thought about it because I'd always had horned cows but I started to take note. She was right, cows are very aware of their horns and make an allowance for them when moving, not only that I was sub-consciously making the same allowance when handling them.

The reality is that the horn is a very sensitive appendage, full of blood and nerves. An animal will rarely use them unless they feel very threatened i.e calving with a dog around. And if they do start getting smart with their heads, a smart rap across the horns will pull them up short.

I don't go down the PC/Safety track, I go down the track I want to and what suits me. You too have to travel the road that suits you best.

Cheers,
Ronnie

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10 years 8 months ago #467092 by carlyjean
Replied by carlyjean on topic Reasons NOT to dehorn
Hi thanks Ronney- firstly no I haven't worked out how to search yet (my Internet access is just on my iPhone- I don't use a computer)
Secondly- thanks! those we're the stories I was seeking! I know there must be people out there who happily keep horned cattle somewhere! As someone else said I can always get them taken off later if they prove an issue- vets in the family are very helpful!!
I understand everyone's situation is different- and like Ronney I am very strict on my animals from day dot- I give them every opportunity to do the right thing but always lay down the law when need be. I have spent my life watching and learning the subtleties of animals body language and I am very aware of not putting any animal in a situation that stresses them and have natural sedatives (valerian) on hand incase of emergencies.
Horses are a dangerous animal and their hooves can be deadly, but they always warn you before striking out- we only get kicked/bitten when we have misread or completely missed the warning. My horses know I am 'head mare' and are comfortable with their own place in the herd and I will do my best to gain the respect of my cows so they have the same notion.

If it goes horribly wrong- well it's a mistake I'm willing to make- most times that's the only way I learn (and then everyone can give me their 'I told you so' rants any I will humbly agree with them!)

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10 years 8 months ago #467097 by max2
Replied by max2 on topic Reasons NOT to dehorn
If your Stepfather is going to be the animal's vet, ask him his opinion and if he is happy to handle your horned cow in times of need. He knows you and being a vet, will be the best one to advise on what suits your experience whilst being mindful of your own wishes.

(Personally I have used valerian on one of our horses and I don't consider it strong enough to thoroughly sedate/calm an injured animal by any means.)

All the best.

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