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How to Disbud Your Calf's Horns with Paste

Updated: Jun 27, 2023

It is recommended that cattle that live in confined areas should be disbudded or dehorned to prevent injury to humans and other animals. Dr. Naylor's DeHorning Paste accomplishes this in an easy and economical manner.

Cow and calf in green field
The ideal time to disbud a calf's horns is before it is 2-3 days old.

Disbudding occurs when the horn-producing cells are destroyed before they are attached to the skull. Once horns start to grow and are attached to the skull, this process is referred to as dehorning.

Tip #1 - Apply dehorning paste before the calf is 2 days old.

After two days, calves know how to scratch their heads against something to rub the paste off, and they can stand on three legs and scratch with the other.

Tip #2 - Don't use too much paste.

Using too much paste is the most common mistake beginners make. The result is a big bald spot around the horn area (the hair will grow back in time). The amount of paste to apply on each horn is about the size of a dime, as indicated on the package insert.

Tip #3 - Keep the calf's head dry.

Don't let the calf's head get wet for 24 hours after applying the paste. If rain falls on active dehorning paste, it can run off into the eyes and blind the calf. The paste dries in one day, after which it is no longer necessary to keep calves dry.

Tip #4 - Bottle feed the calf.

Apply paste just before feeding the calves with a bottle. It takes a couple of minutes for the paste to start burning, so if you apply it immediately before feeding, calves are kept busy working on the bottle, and they forget about their discomfort. By the time they are done with the bottle, the paste is almost done with the dehorning process, and they will not notice it that much.

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