Dehorning is necessary in the dairy industry, but so are solutions to make it less painful. As producers and industry, we have an ethical responsibility to protect and practice humane techniques during procedures which involves animals, including calves.
The pain of dehorning of calves can be minimized, especially if calves or dehorned/disbudded at an early age. In the video Dehorning Calves Using Pain Mitigation Techniques, UW-Extension Agriculture Agents Heather Schlesser, PhD, Sandy Stuttgen, DVM and Sarah Mills-Lloyd, DVM and North Central Technical College Veterinarian Luke Peterson, DVM share the importance of using pain medication when dehorning dairy calves and demonstrate the steps involved in reducing the pain of dehorning.
For more information regarding the benefits and risks associated with the various techniques associated with dehorning/disbudding, please view the complimentary factsheet Disbudding/Dehorning Dairy Calves developed by UW-Extension Brown County Agriculture Educator Liz Binversie, UW-Extension Taylor County Agriculture Educator Sandy Stuttgen, and UW-Extension Dairy Cattle Wellbeing Specialist Amy Stanton. Included in the factsheet are the steps for each of the disbudding/dehorning methods as well as recommended age of calf for procedure.