Friday, March 22, 2013

dehorning

We are awaiting another winter storm this weekend.  Ho Hum.  I keep reminding myself that I have a limited number of days to live on this earth, and I should not ruin even one day by worrying about a storm that may or may not happen.  Nor should I ruin one day complaining about the snow, if it actually happens.  
I asked the other day if anybody knew what was going on in this picture.  It's actually a picture of sort of a fiasco caused by lack of communication.  We have used several different veteranarians over the years, but have lately stuck with this guy from Odessa because he charges less for a farm visit.  Cliff thought he recalled that this guy dehorns calves with a device that quickly snips off the emerging horns.  Because that is a procedure that is done quickly, Cliff said to tell them they wouldn't need the holding chute, which totally restrains even a full-grown cow.  He figured he could restrain the calves for the instant it takes to use the dehorning device.  
Well, this vet uses a dehorner that burns the area and kills the cells so that the horn drops off.  This is NOT a procedure that is over with quickly.  Cliff even had a hard time restraining one-month-old Jenny; in the picture he is holding six-month-old Gracie down.  
To make matters worse, when we led him to the new calf we just purchased, he said he couldn't dehorn her until she was at least a month old.  
"That's odd," I said to him.  "We used to use dehorning paste on all the babies, and we did it as soon as we bought them at three days old."  
"Really?  Well then, this should work too, if that's the case."  
So he spent about ten minutes burning her head in two spots.  After he left, I told Cliff, "I don't even think he burned the right area."  
"Oh yes," Cliff replied, "I'm sure he did."  
As I was feeding Penny her bottle that evening, I felt for the horn buttons under her skin.  Sure enough, they were outside the burned area.  
Looking back, if I had been the vet I would have refused to do the job without a chute, charged for the farm visit, and rescheduled the whole mess.

A couple of days ago I bought a bottle of dehorning paste.  From now on we will do the job ourselves like we used to.  Trouble is, it's a painful procedure too.  The hair around the horn button is shaved off, and then you cover the shaved area with the paste, which is an acid.  It doesn't hurt long, but it is painful for a little while.  So poor little Penny has to suffer twice.  While I'm a little angry at the vet, obviously I should have asked which procedure he used, because then I would have had him bring the chute.  Not that it would have helped Penny, since for some reason he couldn't tell which area to burn.    
You may be wondering why we dehorn cattle:  Well, they tend to use their horns to bully other cows, for one thing.  And they are not worth nearly as much if you sell them, because nobody wants a cow with horns.  One thing about it, the babies our Red Angus bull makes with our cows will be naturally polled, which means no horns.    

4 comments:

I'm mostly known as 'MA' said...

I like your way of thinking as far as winter goes...I have to remember that today and probably the next few weeks...I'm not going to let any negative thoughts about winter ruin what can be a beautiful day! So sorry your little calf has to endure dehorning the painful way.

Nicole said...

At our county fair you can't have animals with horns (cows, goats, sheep) and I got to job shadow a local vet in high school and he showed me how to dehorn and make them look polled. It was pretty awesome to watch.

TARYTERRE said...

Dehorning sounds painful. We are expecting your snowstorm on Monday. I have had enough of winter to tell you the truth.

Wil said...

I've never had any cattle WITHOUT horns. Between coyotes, bears and local dogs running wild, I wouldn't have any heifers come Spring if they didn't have the deterrent of head gear. What others chose to do after purchase was their business.