Bovis ISSN 2398-2993

Disbudding/dehorning (Farmer Factsheet)

Contributor(s): Louise Cox-O’Shea, Temple Grandin , John Remnant

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  • Dehorning involves removing the horns and horn-producing tissue from older animals.
    • Dehorning is an act of veterinary surgery and should only be carried out by a veterinary surgeon.
  • Disbudding means removing the horn buds and destroying the underlying horn-producing tissue of animals under 6 months old.
    • Disbudding is an exemption, in Schedule 2 Part 1, of the Veterinary Surgeons Act 1966 (UK) and can be carried out by any animal owner, a member of his household, or employee and by any animal husbandry student under the training of a vet or in a recognised educational establishment, as well as by a qualified veterinary surgeon.
  • Good technique and appropriate anaesthesia and analgesia are required for both techniques to optimise animal welfare.
Horn growth
  •  Before 2 months of age, horn is produced from horn producing cells (corium) at the base of the horn.
  • Horn tissue is similar in composition to hoof tissue.
  • After 2 months of age the horns become attached to the frontal bone of the skull. At this stage the horn has a hard central core.
  • At 6 months of age the horn becomes hollow and is in direct communication with the inside of the skull.
Benefits of disbudding/dehorning
  •  Dehorning reduces the risk to human handlers, as well as reducing injury to other cattle, that can be inflicted by horns.
  • Animals are often worth more at auction if dehorned.
  • Dehorning reduces the trough space required per animal.

Techniques and their advantages/disadvantages

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Timing

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Pain relief and nerve blocks

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Immediate aftercare

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Longer term aftercare

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Disinfection

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Further reading

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