how old is too old to remove horns

Discussion in 'Cattle' started by farmgirl6, Jun 27, 2011.

  1. farmgirl6

    farmgirl6 Well-Known Member

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    Norman my pet steer still has his horns, but they are tipped. He is normally pretty good, but has started recently being a little bit of a bully with the horses and tore up a section of my wire fence scratching his head, how old is too old to have the Vet take most of them off? Norman is eight years old...
     
  2. gone-a-milkin

    gone-a-milkin Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Horns can be removed from adult cattle.
    It is a very intense thing though, and one I wouldnt recommend during fly season.
    Basically, the vet saws the horns off and then removes the veins that supply blood to the area.
    It is possible to do it, yes. I would really try to avoid it though at his age.

    If he is scratching on the fence now, maybe he has some itchiness issue that you could deal with easier.
    Is it flies bugging him, or lice, or something?

    I have never been around any steers older than 4 years and they were working as oxen.

    You should post a pic so we can all see him. :)
     

  3. mary,tx

    mary,tx Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I can't get my mind around a steer being a pet. I'd send him packing.
     
  4. farmgirl6

    farmgirl6 Well-Known Member

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    He has fly control bracelets on his legs and spot treatment, as well as feed through, so no flies or lice, he just decided his head itched and their happen to be no hot wire on that corner, so he mangled it. I will get a picture and post it if I can figure out how..I have a friend who is an author so I snapped a picture of me sitting next to him in the pasture, reading him her book..but that was a few years ago:)
     
  5. farmgirl6

    farmgirl6 Well-Known Member

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    Well, he was an anniversary gift from my hubby eight years ago, 10 day old bottle calf, and I had no experience with cows but lots with horses, so I just raised him like a horse, he wears a halter, ties, loves to be groomed, used to pick up his feet but now he is so big I dont think he can. We even rode him occasionally when he was younger. I am not sure he knows he is a cow...He did get a ring and his horns tipped when he was made a steer at about 18 months, I run the lead from the ring through the halter tho, so it doesnt pull unless he does. As a Jersey I thought he would stay small, but he is huge.
     
  6. mary,tx

    mary,tx Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I guess I'm just not that sentimental. I can hardly wait to send my two year old, formerly bottle baby, steers packing. Once an animal starts making a nuisance of itself, that sort of makes me all the more ready. I have two donkeys that are about ready to go because they've started chewing the bark on my trees.
     
  7. gone-a-milkin

    gone-a-milkin Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Okay. :)
    If you are sure you need to get the horns off him, it CAN be done.
    If you wait til the weather cools off there will be less chance of fly-strike and infection.
    He will feel pretty sorry for himself for awhile after it is done.

    Personally, it is my very least-favorite operation to see done on adult cattle.
    In fact, it is the only time I have seen big burly grown men faint. LOL

    Are you sure you couldnt just rework your fencing instead?
     
  8. bruce2288

    bruce2288 Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I put castrating bands on some cows horns last fall. The big surgical type bands, 8 weeks all horns gone no blood, not much stress I could see.
     
  9. gone-a-milkin

    gone-a-milkin Well-Known Member Supporter

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    bruce, how old were your cows?
    The times I have seen the bands done on horns they were all young stock. 18 mo/ max.
    By the time a steer is this old that is a lot of horn to squeeze off, dont you think?
     
  10. springvalley

    springvalley Family Jersey Dairy Supporter

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    I have never seen the bands used, Bruce2288 could you post a pic if you took some. I have dehorned older cattle, but none that old. Like Gone A Milkin has said it will be very tramatic for him, and could kill him if done wrong. It is very hard to pull veins when they are that old as the veins grow into the horn wall itself. I use a blood stop and only cut them the right sign on the moon so the blood isn`t flowing as free. And never do this when it is warm out, or you will have maggots in them for sure. I think I would redo the hot wire so he isn`t so eager to tear it up. And maybe a pen to himself, so his horse cousins don`t get hurt. Anymore questions just ask, > Thanks marc
     
  11. genebo

    genebo Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Sounds like you could use a hot wire on that corner.
     
  12. MO_cows

    MO_cows I calls em like I sees em

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    I wouldn't do it surgically at that age. There is a lot of horn base in the skull by then. I have heard of banding them, too, but never done it myself.
     
  13. bruce2288

    bruce2288 Well-Known Member Supporter

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    The one cow had to be 7yrs old. No pictures. If you do this you probably want to cut a grove in the horn to keep the critter from rubbing it off. Generally their is a bit of a grove right next to the skull. I puy on 4 cows and only one horn left. I assume the band got rolled off. My friend has done it with the small bands used for lambs.
     
  14. gone-a-milkin

    gone-a-milkin Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Even on the young stock, they really do try to rub the bands off.
    That is one reason I *doubt* that it is super humane.
    Looks to me like the cattle are not real happy, and they dont gain any growth during the process.

    It so much easier (on the cows an the people, both) to just disbud properly at a young age.

    That doesnt help the OP though.

    What does Norman do to bully the horses? All the horses I have seen have been far superior to the cattle. They are much meaner. :D
     
  15. farmgirl6

    farmgirl6 Well-Known Member

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    Well, I had them tipped at about 18 months, the vet knocked him out and sawed them off, then bandages on, they of course have grown back some but it took like six years, I figure this would be the last time to cut them back, I haven't the stomach to have a vet take them all the way down to his skull (I watched a four month heifer have hers scooped, God I will never have that done again, she looked like a lobotomy patient in her bandage), just lop ends to he has like two or three inch nubs, I know he would look goofy but not too worried about that, maybe I would have some little brass plates made so he is styling:).
    He has been pushing the ponies around a bit more than he had, but you are right, they are way meaner, and he really could pick one up and toss them over the fence if he wanted to. I will put up hot wire on that one corner, perhaps his own paddock is not a bad idea, I had him locked up last night until I could get up and repair the broken boards in the paddock the horses knocked down, and he was fine with it, I thought he would be more upset as his best buddy is a horse but he actually seemed to enjoy being having the shed to himself.
     
  16. genebo

    genebo Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Most oxen are steers and they almost always keep ,their horns. They work in really close contact with people and other animals without problem. That's because they are selected first, then trained to be that way.

    I have no doubt you could train Norman, too. It would save him having to endure the dehorning process.

    There is a cavity that extends partway out on the horn. That is where the blood vessels are. Tipping horns usually involves removing the horn that is out past the cavity. Since this has already been done to Norman, I'd worry that the next attempt to tip him might cut into the cavity.

    Cattle use the cavity as a cooling area. They send blood in to be cooled during times of heat stress and can restrict the blood flow during cold.

    The horn grows from the base. If you put a mark on a young steer's horn, the mark would get farther away from his head as he grows. When a young steer is dehorned surgically, the bud from which the horn grows is scooped out.

    When using the band method, the blood supply is cut off and the horn bud dies. The horn falls off and the dead tissue that was the horn bud has to be absorbed by the body. For a while, there is dead flesh in the steers head. You have to give the steer a shot to help prevent infection and tetanus while the dead flesh is being absorbed.

    Cutting the horn off flush with the head is similar to banding. It leaves the bud to die, so you have to treat for infection and tetanus when you do this, too.

    In banding or cutting, there is the possibility that the horn bud won't die, or will die incompletely. Then some horn material may grow back. These are not scurs, just deformed horn material. Only polled animals can have true scurs, which are loose and not attached to the head.
     
  17. SCRancher

    SCRancher Well-Known Member

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    Or you could sell Norman to the packers and buy Norman II and raise him up - purchasing polled stock ofc....

    Seriously just a thought.
     
  18. farmgirl6

    farmgirl6 Well-Known Member

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    :) Norman would definately fill a fridge, but as someone who catches spiders in the house and lets them out to come back in, traps rats in her feed room in live traps, keeps them in a cage with food and water until a small herd is formed and then wastes lots of gas and time driving them far out in the uninhabited country to let them go instead of killing them, and keeps her chickens until they die of old age and burying them, any concept of eating Norman is probably, while very sound reasoning and perfectly rational, is shall we say, unlikely:)

    We all have our charector flaws, one of my many is my hardwiring not to be able to hurt any critter great or small if another option is available (I am admittedly a hypocrite, as I eat steak and meat all the time) You guys have pretty much talked me out of the horn trimming unless the vet can be very sure just to clip the tips like a dogs claws, and it sounds risky. I wonder how far the viable part of a horn goes up? and how does the banding work, the horn seems so hard to me, how does one apply something so tight that it could cut off blood vessels underneath, or do you apply them around the fleshy base of the horn?
     
    Last edited: Jun 28, 2011
  19. Oakshire_Farm

    Oakshire_Farm Well-Known Member

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    When I bought my Jersey cow she had horns, I loved them! Until she was about 4 and she was in heat came bounding up to me and stuck them in my back! I called the vet, he came out put her right out! Froze the area with a local, then sawed them off and used my dehorning iron to cauterize the area. There was no blood, it was done in the spring. We did not have any problem with flies. She woke up right after, has never forgave the vet for it, but we had no problems. It was easy, I would do it again if I had a cow with horns.

    I am a suck like you..... I have "pets" my biggest hay burner is a Shire Stallion, I quit breeding him years ago... to many horses out there! He hates trails, he is lazy in the ring, I am scared to drive him. He goes english, western and can pull with his harness on. I hop on him half a dozen times a year just to remember how much I love the big lug! But he is good for nothing. lol I love the big beast! I have put him up for sale a few times, but every time I get a email I get all sucky and cannot do it...... As long as he is happy and I can afford to keep stuffing the feed into him he stays :)
     
  20. DWH Farm

    DWH Farm Well-Known Member

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    If that is how you feel then you should just fix the fence and move on. At his age either dehorning or banding will cause pain and discomfort...