Ensure Ethical Dehorning and Remain Compliant in Calf Management with Herdwatch - Herdwatch.com


Ensure Ethical Dehorning and Remain Compliant in Calf Management with Herdwatch

Katie Shanahan

| Cattle & Dairy

| Mar 14, 2024

dehorning calf

In the picturesque landscapes of Ireland, where cattle farming is a cherished tradition, ensuring the well-being of livestock is paramount. One crucial aspect of calf management is disbudding (dehorning), a procedure aimed at removing horn buds to prevent potential harm to both animals and handlers. However, disbudding must be conducted with care, employing humane practices and adhering to legislative requirements. Disbudding involves removing horn buds from calves at an early stage of development when they are not yet attached to the skull. This approach minimizes tissue trauma and reduces stress for the animal, making it significantly less distressing compared to dehorning older cattle.

Legislative Requirements & Ethical Obligations

In Ireland, disbudding must comply with regulations under the Diseases of Animals Act (1966) and the Protection of Animals (Amendment) Act (1965). These laws prohibit the sale or export of horned animals and mandate the use of local anaesthesia for disbudding calves over two weeks old. Failure to comply with these regulations is illegal and can result in severe penalties. Veterinary advice strongly advocates for the use of local anaesthesia in all disbudding procedures. Local anaesthesia can be obtained through prescription from veterinary surgeons, ensuring that calves undergo the procedure with minimal pain and discomfort.

calf in halter
Optimal Methods for Disbudding

It’s crucial to use a cauterization method, such as a heated disbudding iron, within the first one to two weeks of the calf’s life. Additionally, utilizing a custom-built calf dehorning crate helps minimize stress for the animal and ensures operator safety. It is vital that the bud is completely removed to ensure re growth does not occur. Once the calf has been loaded into the custom crate and secured, administer the required dose of Local Anaesthetic to the corneal nerve located just behind the eye of the calf. Allow time for the LA to become effective- This can be observed by relaxed calves with slight droopy eyes/ ears. Once the tool is heated, carry out the dehorning removing all the bud. Cauterise to ensure the calf is not bleeding and spray with a suitable antiseptic spray.

calf in crate
Record the Task on Herdwatch

Keep a record of the tasks and treatments you carry out on your farm to ensure you are compliant with department regulations. Reports can be generated from the Herdwatch app to show your inspector and can be linked with remedy purchases from your vet.

To record a treatment on Herdwatch
  • Open the Herdwatch App
  • Select Cattle Treatment from the quick actions
  • You can add treatment only from your cabinet.
  • Select your treatment or use the search bar.
  • Alternatively- Select Remedy not in list and Search for Lidocaine.
  • Enter remedy details and select your calves from the herd list.
  • Save
app screen

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