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Cow and Calf

A science-based resource for information, research and trends in cattle dehorning.

Why Early-Age Dehorning is Better for Calves and Producers

Cattle dehorning is a necessary management practice to prevent injury to animals and handlers.

It is generally accepted that the younger the calf is at the time of dehorning, the less invasive and painful the procedure.

The American Veterinary Medical Association and many other organizations recommend that  cattle be dehorned at the earliest age practicable.

Research has shown that early-age disbudding with dehorning paste is less painful than other dehorning methods.

See the latest update from the American Association of Bovine Practitioners (AABP) below.

young white lamb

Dehorning methods vary by age of animal and stage of horn development. Disbudding methods such as caustic paste and hot-iron can only be used in calves under two months of age, before the horns attach to the skull. Mechanical dehorning methods can be used on horns at any stage of development. Each method has advantages and disadvantages. Producers should consult their veterinarians to determine the dehorning method that’s best for the animal and the operation.

Dehorning Research

"Dehorn Calves Early" (Hoard's West - Nov. 2010) is authored by Aurora Villarroel, DVM, Assistant Professor, Rural Veterinary Practice, College of Veterinary Medicine, Oregon State University. Read more . . . 

"Paste Those Horns Away and It's Easier for You Both" (American Agriculturist - July 2010) is authored by Linda Greenwood from Greenwood Dairy, Canton, NY. Greenwood has been using dehorning paste... Read more . . .

Close-up of a cow calf.
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