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Need some dehorning advice

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I'm the biggest preacher that a polled bull is the best way to dehorn any calf but once in a while in my quest for "outcross genetics" I skip over to some horned bulls. Invariably, while most of the calves will still be polled, I still get one or two that will be "horned" and I put it quotations because they aren't true horns just anoying "half horns" or scurs that absolutly everyone hates. While I don't lie about whos scurred and not, I still don't want any horned or scurred cattle on my place and would be most appreciative for any of you to give me the best advice on using paste as I think it would be the cheapest and most convinient given my situation of only the occasional scurred calf. The "scurs" aren't "through the skin yet" but I can feel little "nubs" on the calf's head and while he's only a week old, I would like to get at them at the best time for me, the calf and his mom and would appreciate anything that anyone with any experience at this sort of thing could tell me. I've never pasted or dehorned a calf yet and when I had to have horns removed it has been done by my vet and is costly on a good day. Would like to try paste, I hear some have had excellent results with it...no marks on the head and fairly painless to the calf, cheap for me which I would like but mostly, when do I apply...at what stage of horn growth and which brand do y'all recommend. Thanks in advance for all your advice. Thanks for reading from Canada, have a good day all.
That's me by the way, guys, when I tried to post under "whiteface" I got a big complaint about how "the name has already been taken!!!!" Whoz bin stealin my name dammit!! Thanks for any advice on the dehorning thing!
Well, Whiteface, we used to have horned Herefords and here is what my finicky husband did to paste all the calves. He caught them when they were real young (you know horned Herefords horns can be felt early on). They would be only a day or two old. He used 'mule shears' (small hand-held shears that he carried in a holder on his belt) and clipped around each horn to expose it well. Then he used Franklin Dehorning paste. Made a spot the size of the nub and that was all there was to it. Some of the paste came in jars and you had to use a popsicle stick or a jack knife, but Franklins came with a spout that worked real well (he said.) It was black too, so easy to see how much you had on their head. It isn't painless though, as pretty soon the calf throws his head around, runs over to mama to suck and then might even tear off. I worried that it would come off on the cow and cause problems, but it never did. We got along real well with no sign of horns in the fall, but he was very exacting in putting the paste on, got the whole nubbin covered well.

Somehow, one year before branding a neighbor picked up a baby calf he had found on his side of the fence. He brought it over to us--knew it was ours from the clipped hair around the horn nubbins'.

Anyway, my husband is glad that he doesn't have to do that anymore. Was quite a chore when they all had to be treated. Made good horses, though.
We're like you, polled is the only way to go. But we still end up doing a few anyways because of genetics in the cow. We use Dr. Naylor's, comes in a jar. It'll keep well from one year to the next unlike other brands I have tried. WEAR GLOVES! Like the little surgical ones, otherwise you'll be losing some skin. I just dip the end of my index finger in the paste and push the hair away from the horn, rub it around and over the bud. Doesn't take much.
After using the paste, you can use duct tape over the poll to keep the Dam from licking the paste off. It will eventually fall off itself.

I'm sure this one comes from Red Green
Agree with Murgen. Use duct tape to cover the buds after you have applied the paste.

We never paste calves, due to the fact that horns can still grow back if the paste gets rubeed off, etc. If the horns do grow back, they grow narled and curled so that cables have to be used to remove them....and that is really no fun.

We use a barnes dehorner to lop/gauge off the horns at about 5-6 months of age. A bit of blood involved, so most producers avoid the procedure and just use paste or avoid horns completely and use strictly polled bulls.

A barnes dehorner can be used on both horned and scurred animals. Leaving the horns/scurs till 5 months allows us to figure out what we are actually dealing with. Some of our calves have had scurs that, at birth, are so prominent that they fool us as horns.
I have a small goat dehorner (electric) for young calves 2-6 months. It burns the buds around the base of the horn and they fall off in a few weeks. They look polled then too.
Have heard too many horror stories about the paste.
Two questions come to mind, Aaron, I may need you to answer this one, is there a signifigance to the size or type of "horn" or "scur" and does each individual situation need specific attention? My other question is what is my time limit with pasteing? Size of bud? Age of calf? "Scur" or "Horn?" make the difference? I can't feel the scur itself on this particular calf, (not through the skin yet) what are the implications, if any, of waiting until I can feel some horn? Should I wait or get at it right away for best results?
Mike, I've heard some serious horror stories too on the pasteing. I'd like to think I'm a little more responsible and watchful than some horror story inventors and would make sure I do it right (that's why I'm here asking the "experts"!!!) but honestly, I don't have an iron of any kind, don't really want to buy or borrow one (it's embarrassing enough for me to admit to all of you I have a horned calf, never mind my neighbors! I'd never live it down! LOL!) and I don't plan to do this enough to learn how to use an iron with any real amount of success. I will say though, leave it to a Charolais guy to recommend an iron! Some of the nicest dehorning jobs I've ever seen were irons on Charolais cattle, you guys sure know how to use 'em! If you come to Olds, Mike I'll get you some of that Tangle Ridge (Shelly got nothing on me!!! LOL!) and let you at the calf in exchange for some of the good stuff! I don't drink - it would be all yours!
Anyway, enough of me coercing you to do my dirty work. Supposing I was stuck useing the paste, what time limit do I have and Aaron what are the consequenses of my misjudgeing whether I've got a scur or a horn on this calf? Thanks guys!
Whiteface, I'm almost tempted to to come to Olds packing my iron! LOL
My experience with horns or scurs is: if you grab the bud between your fingers and it wiggles side to side, it is a scur. If it doesn't move it IS attached to the skull and is a horn. Dehorning done as early as possible has always been the best for me.

There are vets who specialize in cosmetic dehorning. May be your best and cheapest way to get it done right.
Whiteface, as long as you can feel the horn, you can do them with the paste. I've done them at two days old. In regards to the iron, we had one once and we'll never use it again. Talk about your horror stories! The paste is alot easier and I can say in all the years since the job fell to me, I've only goofed on two and the horns still grew. Just didn't get enough on, I guess.
I would say your time limit for the paste is somewhere between 3-5 weeks from birth, but someone else should comment just to be double sure. If you can't feel a horn right now, I would suspect that your dealing with a scur. No point in applying paste until you can feel a horn bud.

I had a scurred yearling bull (TA-BAR Royale 17F son) a few years back that got his hind end paralyzed in a breeding accident. While he was alive during the 2 weeks following the accident, he tried to get up numerous times. One time, he got frustrated and knocked his head against some metal piping and solid rails in the barn, popping both scurs right off his head. I examined where the scur was attached and I was amazed that the scur is just attached to skin. Until that time, I thought it was weakly attached to the skull.

Upon further reading, I have discovered that scurs can eventually attach to the skull in older animals (i.e. over a year of age).

I don't know how often scurs are identifible in just-born calves. Two daughters off of our junior herdsire were born the same day and with bud growths that I labelled as horns. Checked them when I ran them through the chute a week ago and discovered they are loose, therefore scurs. From what I know, I don't think too many animals actually keep their scurs to adulthood because they are attached to the skin.

I guess I suggest you avoid using paste if you want to be accurate on your registration certificate with either horned or scurred/polled. I screwed up on registering one heifer last year as polled with scurs and have since learned she is horned.

In the end, I (and I imagine quite a few others) really don't care about leaving scurs on. The worst an animal with a scur can do is give you a bit of a jab in the ribs. Horns are the real scary deal, specially on bulls. I wish all the horned guys out west followed Jack St. Arnaud's example and dehorned their sale bulls.
Thanks Aaron, really appreciate your experiences with dealing with horns and scurs.
Would welcome any further comments on what the latest date and/or size of scur/horn that they applied paste to.
Have a good night all from Canada.
Whiteface-we also run reg. polled herefords and have tried everything with mixed results. Do a proper job and paste can do a good job, just be sure to separate the cow off for an hour or so. We've tried gougers & sometimes get regrowth. The best job on a young calf is a hot iron sometimes even following the gougers. ( picked this up from the char neighbours). Scurs when removed usually grow back even bigger and may even attach solid like a horn! Having them born polled is just so much easier! Good luck calving! :twisted: :roll:
Having grown up on a Hereford outfit, and in recent years using Charolais and Red Simmental bulls to get a "terminal" cross calf, I have had quite a bit of experience with horned calves. Paste works real well, and is probably good from birth to at least a month old. We try to paste any horns at the time we tag the calves. At branding time, we check each calf again, and if there are horns we miss, we use a hot iron.

When I use paste, I straddle the calf with my knees on the ground and the calf in a normal sitting position. Chaps come in handy for this, as they protect your knees from sandburrs or damp ground. With the calf sitting upright, his head is level. Then I use scissors to clip the hair around the horn. Paste is applied in about a dime-sized spot, and rubbed in so it stays put. Paste with a spout on the container works the best, but a popsicle stick works if it comes in a jar. One cautionary note, on a warm day it takes less paste than on a chillier day. If the day is too hot, sometimes the paste will run, which can be bad if it runs into an eye. If you get paste on your skin, immediately wash it off. My son used some one time to remove some warts, and it did the trick but there was pain involved. Usually we just paste the calf and turn it loose to be with its mother. Once in a while, the cow will lick off the paste. It doesn't seem to hurt the cow, but if licked off, the horn doesn't get removed. In your case, on a one-time deal, it might pay to leave the cow and calf separated for a couple hours.

At branding time, a hot horn iron is applied. This is often made from a piece of pipe so is round to go around the base of the horn. When the hot iron is applied, it is rotated as the brand goes around the horn. After a branded ring appears, a gloved thumb can knock of the shell of the horn. Then the brand is reapplied for a bit longer.

I would rather have full-fledged horns to contend with than wonder if they have scurs. If there is any doubt in my mind, I apply paste in the right spot as if horns exist. I would sure rather dehorn a calf when it is young, than to wait until weaning time. Dehorning then is a lot harder on the animal.
You do things so similar to my husband, Soapweed.

And I agree with you on waiting until weaning--really hard on the calf.

In fact I have read articles where the feedlot owners say dehorning is the very hardest thing on a calf, worse than castration by a long ways. They don't gain much while healing up and it takes quite awhile for the calves to get over being dehorned. The buyers sure dock calves with horns and that is why.

We had Limousin cross calves in the early 80's. They can have a tiny little nub, not anything like a horned Hereford, and we pasted those. I think that is the last time we have had to use paste on anything.
We use to have some herefords down here in SD. We always used the paste. We did them when we tagged up every morning. lts a good idea to clip the hair. All you have to do is lay the clipper over the horn and one snip lets the nub show. lf you cut too much l think it can run some. The one snip leaves somewhat of hollow so it keeps the paste on the horn. We let them right up and back with their momma. l don't paste in wet weather due to the fact it could run down the face. The only bad thing is nowadays the pastes are not as good as they use to be. lf we miss some we take em off when we do the fall shots a month before weaning. We usually saw them off then or scoop them and then cauterize with a hot iron.
We dehorn with paste at about 2 months of age the same time we vaccinate and castrate using calf tables. With the calf in the headlock on the table, use your leg to press the front of his face down against the head lock. Then use a sharp chisel and pop the top of the horn cap off. Its best if it still dangles by a few strands of horn tissue. Using the chisel, dip it into the caustic paste and spread a good layer on the exposed horn bud, then again using the chisel place the horn cap back over the raw bud to keep the paste covered. Its very effective and depending on the dehorners "skill" we may only get 1 or 2 percent with regrowth.
Sure appreciate all these tips, guys. I'll be trying the paste soon I think and keep you all updated on how it goes. Thanks again! Have a good day from Canada!

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