About 4 years ago, just before our first organic inspection, we decided to stop frying our calves little heads. It is common practice in the cattle world of the Midwest to either breed for polled (hornless) cattle or de-horn them when they are very young.
I hated de-horning. The calves were frightened and based on their screams, I am assuming they experienced pain. Last but not least, the whole procedure smelled horrific. .Keith would put the calf in a metal crate which secured their bodies while I or hopefully someone else, would hold their heads down.
Then he wielded a large electric de-budding iron and holding it over the little horn buds he applied pressure for several long seconds. A ring of burned tissue resulted and within a few weeks the horn roots died and what was left of the horn fell off.
|See those little horn buds? |
These are on a four month old calf
We always felt terrible doing it but all the other dairy farmers convinced us it was the only way.
One day we visited another dairy, in Indiana, and surprise of surprises...their cows had horns! So we asked many questions of that farmer and did more research and then we went cold turkey on our bovines. We stopped setting calves heads on fire. We all began sleeping better immediately.
|This fine looking guy is about 18 months old.|
We also worried they would use the horns like weapons on each other but that too was rare. Usually by the time the horns are really grown in the pecking or stabbing order is well established.
We were fearful of injury to ourselves but again Keith and I, mostly Keith, are with theses cows and or steers every day. We don't keep any bulls and do all our breeding by AI (artificial insemination)They have no reason to fear us or try to hurt us. Of course they are still animals so we watch ourselves. OK, I watch myself, while Keith watches something in the field and the cows watch something on Keith's shoes.
PS Don't worry about the tubular cow. After lifting the lightweight plastic tube way up high like a chimney cleaners top hat , and getting a good laugh from the crowd, they shake it off and move on to their next parlor trick