Effects of three dehorning techniques on behavior and wound healing in feedlot cattle

Author: C. D. Neely, D. U. Thomson, C. A. Kerr and C. D. Reinhardt

Journal: J ANIM SCI 2014, 92:2225-2229

Abstract: Crossbred horned steers and heifers (n = 40; BW = 311.8 ± 4.7 kg) were used to determine the effect of dehorning methods on pain, cattle behavior, and wound healing. Cattle were blocked by weight and randomly assigned to 1 of 4 treatments: 1) control (CON), 2) banded using high tension elastic rubber (BAND), 3) mechanically removed (MECH), or 4) tipped (TIP). Vocalization and behavior were recorded during the dehorning process. Wound healing scores, attitude, gait and posture, appetite, and lying were recorded daily. Vocalization scores were highest for MECH cattle and BAND cattle vocalized more than TIP and CON (P < 0.05). Attitude (P = 0.06), gait and posture (P = 0.06), and lying scores (P< 0.05) were higher for BAND cattle in the days following procedures compared to MECH, TIP, and CON cattle. Cattle in the BAND treatment tended (P < 0.13) to have higher appetite scores than the other methods. Wound healing scores (horn bud and bleeding) were higher for BAND cattle than MECH, TIP, and CON cattle (P < 0.05). These data indicate that MECH is a painful procedure for cattle at the time of the procedure. Banding to remove horns from cattle is not recommended based on the data and observations from this study.

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