Dehorning, tips and tricks

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DitchBank

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I'm going to dehorn m dairy heifers, and they are a pretty big investment so any information on dehorning would be helpful, I have raised a lot of cows but all black angus and no horns so I have never dehorned before, I've seen it done but not sure how to do it exactly.

Questions:

#1 How old when you dehorn?
#2 Should I apply disinfectant to the horns after dehorning (hydrogen poroxide, etc.?)
#3 How deep do you cut down?

.....Any further information or picture chart or tips on this would be great thanks in advance.
 

Bez+

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DitchBank":gqvrkr4x said:
I'm going to dehorn m dairy heifers, and they are a pretty big investment so any information on dehorning would be helpful, I have raised a lot of cows but all black angus and no horns so I have never dehorned before, I've seen it done but not sure how to do it exactly.

Questions:

#1 How old when you dehorn?
#2 Should I apply disinfectant to the horns after dehorning (hydrogen poroxide, etc.?)
#3 How deep do you cut down?

.....Any further information or picture chart or tips on this would be great thanks in advance.

1. Any age - from buttons at a few days old - to fully mature
2. We do not
3. This answer is far more complex than I am willing to bother with here - lots of experts on horns - in the end do yourself two favours:

a. If you are new at it have someone who really does know what to do perform the first few. The vet would be my choice for you - it is cheap and you LEARN the right way - right from the start.
b. It is a surgery - perform it like a surgery and not a butchery (seems most do it this way - in the end it costs them more)

We have raised HH all our lives - lots of folks here will tell you to hack away with no thought to the animal - you will hear of people using Skill saws, branch loppers - power saws - etc - do that and you might as well stay polled.

I have written extensively on horns and de-horning - do a search the info may still be there. It is easy. It is not expensive - but it is bloody if you do not know how to stop the bleeding and burning to cauterize is NOT the best way. It can cause the animal a greast deal of pain - it can set the animal back a couple weeks of weight gain and it can cost you serious health issues if done wrong.

Done right it is painless, cheap and they do not lose one day of weight gain.

Probably best to have your local vet help you first time around. Best of luck.

Regards

Bez+
 

hillsdown

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Do your calves when the nibs first appear with the paste or do them a couple weeks before weening with an electric dehorner which burns the nibs right off. Just make sure you do it right and get the whole circle around the horn ,there is nothing uglier than a half @ssed dehorned dairy cow.
 

regolith

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or do them a couple weeks before weening with an electric dehorner

About six weeks old. I've had the vet technicians do them up to ten weeks old with the hot iron, but they're reluctant to do anything over six weeks until they see how well-behaved my calves are :D
 

msscamp

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DitchBank":15en7smc said:
Questions:

#1 How old when you dehorn?

Dehorning causes major stress for a long time, so the younger the animal is the better(and faster) he/she will recover from it! I will also tell you that dehorning takes a strong stomach on the part of the person doing it.

#2 Should I apply disinfectant to the horns after dehorning (hydrogen poroxide, etc.?)

We didn't.

#3 How deep do you cut down?

.....Any further information or picture chart or tips on this would be great thanks in advance.

Take your animals to the vet for dehorning until you know what you're doing, can do it competently, and are comfortable doing it. It is painful, and remains painful for them for several weeks. Until you know how to do it correctly, don't attempt to do it yourself - better yet, switch to a polled breed then you don't have to worry about it.
 

dun

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msscamp":1zr4qwus said:
better yet, switch to a polled breed then you don't have to worry about it.

Not many polled dairy cattle around
 

msscamp

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dun":3e99osme said:
msscamp":3e99osme said:
better yet, switch to a polled breed then you don't have to worry about it.

Not many polled dairy cattle around

You had to point that out, didn't you? :oops: :lol: :lol: Point taken, and my bad. ;-)
 

MO_cows

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We don't do it ourselves, but have had a friend do it with the electric iron, and also had the vet do it surgically. The iron seemed to be less painful/stressful overall. Have been told that the paste will get on the cow's udder and "burn" it.
 

tytower

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It gets a bit wowserish on this subject but if you want to have a try read up on it , get some dehorners and do it.

Dehorners are not cheap about $300 and you need a headbale. Cut the horn off about 1/8thinch into the skin line. Hope it don't bleed to death. Most of them don't. Its said you pull the vein out after cutting ,never done that before but I will try it next . Read thet a hand saw was a better way as it leaves the cut jagged . Tried this and it doesn't seem to alter the length of bleeding time either.

With a saw you learn to do it fast. Dehorners are good for those really thick horns that your thumb and forefinger won't go round but I think most dairy brands I know are pretty thin.

Getting to the second one with a saw is a bit trickier.!
 

hillsdown

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MO_cows":2q9st1sh said:
We don't do it ourselves, but have had a friend do it with the electric iron, and also had the vet do it surgically. The iron seemed to be less painful/stressful overall. Have been told that the paste will get on the cow's udder and "burn" it.

Not many dairy calves are on the cow MO.. :lol2:

I use the paste on the odd beef that had them and have never ever had a problem, electric dehorners are the best for dairy though as it takes a while for the nib to pop up dairy is a lot later than beef with testicles and horns. Just be prepared for the smell of burnt hair and skin. We always did then at 10 weeks old two weeks before weening and kicking them out of the hutches and into a bigger group pen never lost one or had one go off of feed and we did a few hundred each year.

Polled Holsteins are becoming a little more available but the quality of the animal is just not even close to what is available with the horned ones.
 

MO_cows

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hillsdown":3nizh5g9 said:
MO_cows":3nizh5g9 said:
We don't do it ourselves, but have had a friend do it with the electric iron, and also had the vet do it surgically. The iron seemed to be less painful/stressful overall. Have been told that the paste will get on the cow's udder and "burn" it.

Not many dairy calves are on the cow MO.. :lol2:

Duh!! :oops: my bad.
 

FarmGirl10

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hillsdown":39f4z1di said:
Do your calves when the nibs first appear with the paste or do them a couple weeks before weening with an electric dehorner which burns the nibs right off. Just make sure you do it right and get the whole circle around the horn ,there is nothing uglier than a half @ssed dehorned dairy cow.

You can do the paste like HD said, it is the easiest way. But in the past we've had problems with it, so we burn them off now.
 

CattleHand

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youve probably finished working already but here is another tip to slow down the bleeding:

take twine or bailing wire and wrap it tightly around the top of their head at the base of the horns. You will slow down the bleeding that way. A guy around here told us about it, he just lets it rot off and, we use twine and just cut it off with a knife later on, really simple. As for disinfecting we've done it sometimes if they have **** or something, we just dump some lysol on it.
 

Lucky_P

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Polled dairy cattle are becoming more available all the time, and by crossing top-producing horned bulls on polled cows or good polled bulls on top cows, the quality of polled bulls available for the dairy breeds is rapidly approaching that of the horned bulls currently available. Have a look here:
http://www.polleddairycows.com/

I prefer using a polled bull to take the horns off, but lacking that, I prefer a hot iron dehorner at 2-4 weeks.
I've used the caustic dehorning paste on occasions in the past, but I hate it - it 'goes places', and I've had calves smear it all over their head, burn holes in their ears, etc.
While in veterinary practice, I've done 'em with Barnes dehorners(scoops), Keystones, OB wire saw(probably my preferred mechanical method), but I still prefer to burn 'em off with the dehorning iron.

I've 'dehorned' 6-month old heifers, bloodlessly, with Elastrator bands(the little green Cheerio) - shave the hair around the base of the horn, and apply two elastrator bands as far down at the base of the horn as possible. Tetanus is a possibility, so you either need to give a dose of tetanus antitoxin, or have given a dose of tetanus toxoid or Clostridial bacterin with tetanus toxoid several weeks earlier, boostered at the time you apply the band. The calves will shake their heads for a half-hour or so, but soon stop acting like it's causing any discomfort. Horns drop off, clean as a whistle, in about 4-6 weeks.
 

msscamp

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MO_cows":2sqwgz0v said:
hillsdown":2sqwgz0v said:
MO_cows":2sqwgz0v said:
We don't do it ourselves, but have had a friend do it with the electric iron, and also had the vet do it surgically. The iron seemed to be less painful/stressful overall. Have been told that the paste will get on the cow's udder and "burn" it.

Not many dairy calves are on the cow MO.. :lol2:

Duh!! :oops: my bad.

Hey, I've got some good company! :D
 

CKC1586

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Pasting does work well, but needs to be done early. What works best seems to be by shaving the area, put the paste on then put a patch of duct tape over it.
I didn't get my calves pasted this year...and had the vet do a cosmetic dehorning. This is the next day...
CosmeticDehorning1.jpg
 

cowswithgunsnj2

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Hi,
We have been breeding horned and polled bulls for about 30 years, we dehorn calves at branding around 6-7mths old we use scoops on calves once they are dehorned we apply defiance s to the wound and it usually stops bleeding in 5 mins, let the calves back on mum and get them out of the yards straight away to stop infection.
 

Stocker Steve

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Lucky_P":2ythw924 said:
I've 'dehorned' 6-month old heifers, bloodlessly, with Elastrator bands(the little green Cheerio) - shave the hair around the base of the horn, and apply two elastrator bands as far down at the base of the horn as possible.

How to you keep them from rolling up the tapered horn, towards the tip?
 

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