I have several cows in my kraal, having bought them as calves several years ago from Ngoma, a cattle keeping area in Nakaseke district. I want to dehorn them. How do I go about it? Zubair Kaweesa
Dehorning is better done when the animals are still young because at that time, the surgery is simpler. It causes minor trauma to the animal and haemorrhage is minimised too.
There are several advantages of dehorning cattle. These include preventing or reducing incidences of horn injuries against other animals, it helps in safety for herders, improves handling, especially of dairy cattle, increases marketability, especially among food lot animals. In most cases, dehorning improves the appearance of the animal and reduces stress during transportation.
There are several methods of dehorning animals. However, if you are dehorning fairly older cattle, you are advised to give them an anaesthesia, because they feel so much pain.
To deliver the anaesthesia to an animal, draw an imaginary line from the lateral canthus to the base of the horn. About halfway between the orbit and the base of the horn is the point of insertion of the injection. Insert the needle first and attach a syringe with approximately 5ml of lignocaine. Direct the needle in a verticle and media direction, while infusing as close to the frontal bone as possible. Allow 10 minutes for the medicine to take effect.
There are several methods and machines that can be used to dehorn your animals. Among these are the Barnes dehorner method. However, this machine is not readily available in Uganda.
Then there is the surgical handsaw or obstetrical, which are used for fairly old animals. Both can be purchased from veterinary shops around the country.
When using the saw, sedation is required.
Restrain the animal too. Block the corneal nerve, which lies between the ear and the horn with lignocaine.
Make a circular incision and include one centimetre of skin around the base of the horn.
Place an obstetrical wire in the incision and cut the horn. As sawing begins, the wire is held in place by a pair of scissors to prevent it from moving from the intended incision site.
Ensure that the direction of cutting is away from the ear and that the resulting wound is level.
Sawing generates enough heat to minimise haemorrhage. If significant bleeding occurs, use sharp haemostatic forceps to stop it by traction of torsion of vessels. An easier way of protecting the wound is through using gauze swabs over the open wound and superglue to hold the swabs in place.
Do not dehorn during rainy or extremely dusty conditions.