To DeHorn or Not to DeHorn

I’ve been reading this morning about the act of de-horning a cow with a bit of concern. When the Jersey boys arrived, the first thing all the males in the herd did was spar with each other, head-butting their little stubs of horns agains the heads and sides of the Jerseys. I can foresee a problem with that as they get older and their hormones engage. We do not want to lose any of the cattle by goring; neither do we want to be endangered by cattle over-exuberance to the food/water troughs. Some of the herd is ‘polled’, meaning their genetics have left them hornless and that is a good thing, but what about the rest?

It appears we have only two choices (three if we accept the consequences of not de-horning). We can burn off their horn stubs after deadening the area or we can apply a paste. With the paste, there is a risk of getting the stuff in their eyes and holding a calf still is difficult. With at least three budding-out their horns, we need to make a decision rather quickly. I love these “cows” and don’t want to do it at all. I wish there was another choice. In addition to this sort of de-horning, several of the bulls have now dropped their testicles and those need to be removed (in other words, turning them into steers) too. It cuts down on the hormones and makes them more docile within the herd. Dang! Who’da thought the safety of the animals meant having to be mean to them?

About cattlebaroness

I am a graduate of the University of Kentucky with a BA in History, nearing completion of a Master of Arts in American history. Born and raised first on military bases around the world, then in Orange County, CA, I moved to Kentucky when my children were small. I now live on a small family farm and am learning about farm life, planting and our newest addition to the landscape--cattle. Until a month or two ago, all I knew about 'cows' were that they came in brown, black and white and that some are raised for milk and others for meat. I am a quick study out of necessity.
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