Calf Disbudding

With animal welfare being paramount, a change in law preventing calf disbudding without the use of adequate pain relief is going to now in place. For dehorning cattle, the Animal Welfare (Care and Procedures) Regulations which took effect on October 2019 state:

  1. A person must not dehorn a cattle beast OF ANY AGE unless throughout the procedure the cattle beast is under the influence of an appropriately placed and effective local anaesthetic that is authorised by a veterinarian for the purpose of the procedure.

  2. The owner of, and every person in charge of, a cattle beast must not allow the beast to be dehorned in breach of Subclause (1).

  3. A person who dehorns a cattle beast must—
    1. be experienced with, or have received training in, the correct use of the method being used; and
    2. be able to recognise early signs of significant distress, injury, or ill-health so that the person can take prompt remedial action or seek advice.

  4. The owner of, and every person in charge of, a cattle beast that is to be dehorned must ensure that the health and welfare needs of the animal are met during the procedure and recovery, by ensuring that at all times a person is available who—
    1. has suitable equipment; and
    2. has the relevant knowledge, has received relevant training, or is under appropriate supervision.

  5. A person who fails to comply with Subclause (1) or (2) commits an offence and is liable on conviction,—
    1. in the case of an individual, to a fine not exceeding $5,000; or
    2. in the case of a body corporate, to a fine not exceeding $25,000.

In this regulation, 'dehorn' means to remove the horn or part of the horn (including any regrowth after disbudding) from a cattle beast by amputation; but does not include:

  1. removal of the hard insensitive tip of the horn resulting in a blunt hard end; or
  2. removal of an ingrown horn within 3 cm of the point where the horn touches or breaks the surface of the skin or touches the eyelid or surface of the eye.


At VetEnt we provide a calf disbudding service to ensure horn buds are removed effectively at the correct time with minimal pain and discomfort to the animal. It is recommended that calves are disbudded between the age of 2 and 6 weeks, this allows for ease of handling, reduced stress levels and minimal tissue damage.

With our sedation service there is the extra benefit of being able to check for and remove extra teats. Additionally, tagging, BVD/parentage ear notch testing and vaccinating can all be done whilst the calves are sedated.

To find out more on this service and to book, please contact your local clinic.

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To find out more on this service and to book, please contact your local clinic.

You may also be interested in calf vaccinations.

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For emergencies or urgent appointments within the next 24 hours, please phone the clinic directly.