Dehorning Cows and Trimming Cows' Feet

| 1/27/2013 7:38:21 AM

Tags: dehorning cattle, raising livestock, Faith Schlabach,

Dehorning Cows

We had a dehorning and RE-castrating day at the farm today. We had to make the very difficult decision to dehorn three heifers that had not been properly dehorned as babies, which is when this should be done. They were using their horns against the smaller animals and our goat, Cranberry, is due to have babies in a couple of months. Most of our purchasers are purchasing their first cow and are extremely intimidated by horns and/or have smaller animals such as goats as well. I almost had myself convinced that we don’t need to do them and then Fern, who is sweet as can be except with herd animals, aggressively pinned the pregnant goat against the stall wall. Even the little girls use them to control the much bigger calves that have no horns. Therefore, with heavy heart, we had the vet give them pain control topically and internally that will last two days. If they seem to be uncomfortable at all, we will give them some more when that wears off.

This is the shoot we use when we need to care for the cows 

Trimming Cows' Feet 

The two things that will cause a cow's feet to grow unusually long are overgraining/overfeeding and, believe it or not, just the opposite, which is underfeeding.  Because of Fern’s malnourished state (I will share Fern's saga soon) when we purchased her, she also had to have her feet trimmed. Since she is bred, we had to lay her down and trim them manually instead of give her a drug to put her to sleep and trim them. (We have a local vet that has a cage, which lays a cow on its side to trim them, but it was way too big for a mini Jersey.)  All went pretty well as she is a very sweet cow in the first place and secondly, we had 4 people!  I sat on her neck once they "encouraged" her to lay down on her side with her feet out nicely for our very kind vet.

Castrating Steers 

The second part of our day with the vet was to RE-castrate most of our steers. We had banded them, but those slippery things are tricky to get ahold of when they are little and we had missed one or two of almost all the calves we had done! This is almost too hard to believe. The vet told us that his brother buys “steers” at the sales on a regular basis and has to redo most of them. Apparently banding is a challenge to do properly when the calf is very young. So, bander beware! Since dairy bulls are notoriously mean, we couldn’t take a chance on anyone getting hurt, so we had to redo them and wanted to do it before fly season.  We have learned many lessons this year and one of them is that we will let the vet castrate from now on.

This is the chute that we walk the cows thru to have any vet work done.  In this case, the vet stands in the chute behind the cow and castrates them using pain control when necessary. I was amazed that they did not even move a muscle in most cases. Then we sprayed them with Blu Kote and turned them out to graze which they promptly did after spilling the vet's supplies out of the back of his open Suburban.


Raising Dairy Steers

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