The vet clinic has offered disbudding for several years now. The veterinary form of disbudding is different to that of technicians, as we use sedation, local anaesthetic and pain relief to perform the procedure. The main benefit of disbudding calves in this way is improved animal welfare. In some countries the use of local anaesthetic and pain relief is mandated, we suspect that with time this will also become a requirement in Australia.

If you elect to get your calves disbudded by the vet clinic you can expect the following. Calves to be disbudded should be between 2 and 8 weeks of age. Calves are injected with sedation, which will cause them to lie down for approximately 30-45 minutes. Local anaesthetic is then injected around the corneal nerve, which takes the sensation out of the horn bud. The hair involving the horn bud is then clipped. The horn but and skin around the perimeter of the bud is burnt with a hot iron. An injection of pain relief (meloxicam) is given to provide pain relief for up to three days. Whilst the calves are sedated they can also be checked for extra teats, if present they can be easily removed. Checking for umbilical hernias can also be done at this time. Farmers often find it convenient to vaccinate and ear tag when the calves are sedated.

Research has also demonstrated that calves disbudded with the use of local anaesthetic and pain relief recover from the procedure more quickly and have improved growth rates in the days following disbudding when compared with traditional techniques. If you would like to know more about our disbudding procedure, feel free to contact the clinic.