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Dehorning dairy cattle

 
Chris Fitt
Posts: 115
Location: Eastern Shore VA
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Right now I work on a farm where it is seen as unwaveringly necessary to remove horns.  The main reason is safety to us humans.

I visited a biodynamic farm in New York that don't remove the horns.  Their research shows that there are membranes in the horns that are linked to the digestive tract.  They were challenging quite a few other dairy "truths."

The farm I work at is pretty conventional in methods and the biodynamic one was the opposite. 

What are people's thoughts on removing dairy cattle horns?
 
Jami McBride
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Posts: 1948
Location: PNW Oregon
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I think, as will all things that there are other elements which come into play on making this decision.  For example, are we talking about a small holding - family farm which raises and bonds with it's few dairy cows, or are we talking about a large, not tamed heard with horns?  I think fear of harm would be much less of an issue in the first example and therefore dehorning not so necessary.

I love the idea of no dehorning - but I feel we need to realize when we 'go natural' we have to consider other things in order to be successful.  In our quest for healthy animals & health humans, if we do not dehorn then what new thing(s) will have to be done to maintain harmony for all. 

So in this example would not dehorning mean more working (training/taming) the cows?  Or blunting the horns in some way reducing risk?  Or ..... something else?
 
Anna Carter
Posts: 66
Location: Lacey, Wa
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We raised dexter, and we didn't dehorn. Ours weren't particularly tame as we kept them mainly for meat, and they were on 12 acres. One cow lost a calf, so we decided to milk her, and she would rake her horn down my back occasionally. Hurt some, but didn't do any damage.

I can understand being afraid of horns- but at the same time, I've never had any bad experiences with horns- not even on the bulls. One option aside from dehorning is horn weights- they make the horns grow downwards instead of up and out.
 
Chris Fitt
Posts: 115
Location: Eastern Shore VA
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Jami McBride wrote:
I think, as will all things that there are other elements which come into play on making this decision.  For example, are we talking about a small holding - family farm which raises and bonds with it's few dairy cows, or are we talking about a large, not tamed heard with horns?  I think fear of harm would be much less of an issue in the first example and therefore dehorning not so necessary.

I love the idea of no dehorning - but I feel we need to realize when we 'go natural' we have to consider other things in order to be successful.  In our quest for healthy animals & health humans, if we do not dehorn then what new thing(s) will have to be done to maintain harmony for all. 

So in this example would not dehorning mean more working (training/taming) the cows?  Or blunting the horns in some way reducing risk?  Or ..... something else?


The farm we are at dehorns and we have 10 dairy cows.  All Jersey and very well behaved.  When we got here they only had 8.  They may expand but probably not too much more.

The farm in NY that didn't dehorn had abut 60 head.  i don't remember what breed.  They were an education facility besides a dairy and other things and had many kids around all the time.

So to me it is counter intuitive based on operation size.  It seems to be more of an outlook and philosophy issue.
 
Jami McBride
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misfit wrote:
The farm in NY that didn't dehorn had abut 60 head.  i don't remember what breed.  They were an education facility besides a dairy and other things and had many kids around all the time.


Interesting.... so did you see any other differences in how the cows were handled?  I mean were the horned 60+ cows mingling often with the people?

Maybe the flip is true - pets will rub you with their horns, but more wild beast will leave you alone if not provoked.  This isn't what I've heard, but that doesn't mean it isn't true.
 
Chris Fitt
Posts: 115
Location: Eastern Shore VA
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Jami McBride wrote:
Interesting.... so did you see any other differences in how the cows were handled?  I mean were the horned 60+ cows mingling often with the people?

Maybe the flip is true - pets will rub you with their horns, but more wild beast will leave you alone if not provoked.  This isn't what I've heard, but that doesn't mean it isn't true.


We visited NY before we worked on this dairy so there were a lot of questions I would have now.  There cows were not as much like pets as these cows are.  They also had a lot more people milking them so it was more like an assembly line.  Where we only milk one cow at a time.  I would guess that the NY cows with horns had less overall interaction and human contact.
 
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