November 24, 2014

(Dr. Dan) Hi there, folks. Welcome to DocTalk. I’m sure glad you joined us today. I’m Dr. Dan Thomson here from the College of Veterinary Medicine at Kansas State University. We’re gonna have a great show. Dr. Matt Miesner is going to be joining us today and we’re going to talk about dehorning cattle, something that’s a very common practice, something that all of us have done or continue to do. Stay tuned and I hope you enjoy the show.

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(Dr. Dan) Hi there, folks. Welcome to DocTalk. Dr. Miesner, thanks for joining us. (Male) Glad to be here again. (Dr. Dan) Folks, this is Dr. Matt Miesner and he’s a friend and colleague here at Kansas State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine’s Veterinary Health Center and he is an Assistant sorry, an Associate Clinical, you got that promotion, Associate Clinical Professor here in our Veterinary Health Center and he’s boarded in Medicine for Food Animals and we’re talking about dehorning. (Male) Right.
(Dr. Dan) Very common. (Male) Something that anybody on a cattle operation has seen or probably performed. From the time you’re a young whipper snapper, you see things happen and it’s one of those absolutely necessary procedures, in a lot of cases, to have done for various reasons. I think that the first thing we always think about is safety, you know, my safety, veterinary safety, producer safety, but not just for the people, let’s talk about the cattle as well. (Dr. Dan) You bet. (Male) So their pen mates, maybe even the dog, any other horses or anything else that might be around, so other animals, anything that can get traumatized by his horns, so. (Dr. Dan) And they can use those then to gore another animal and, you know, a lot of people say that we have horns to protect our animals from predators, but there’s a lot of pulled cattle out there that raise good calves too. (Male) Absolutely, yeah. think of it as a protective part of the body, but and, yes, I have seen some cattle that didn’t have horns and kind of moved down on the pecking order of the herd, but as we all know, they’re pretty defensive and protective with a lot of other appendages of their body, so it’s not actually needed to protect them, yeah. (Dr. Dan) So safety and handling are one, but what about economically? (Male) Well economically, we can talk about, you know, the trauma that you would think you’d see with bruising, you know, bruising the carcasses and just bumping up against each other on those kind of things could lead to, you know, trim and extra different things that would happen to the carcass that is slaughtered. (Dr. Dan) I’ve actually seen some of the reports saying that shipping animals to slaughter with horns verses pulled, that we can have anywhere from point two to two pounds of trim. (Male) Right. (Dr. Dan) So could be significant from bruising. What about sometimes, you know, I see some of these the horns will grow around and grow into the skull. Can those be an issue for the animal? (Male) Yes. They continue to grow. They don’t stop just because they hit skin height and they just continue to dig into skin and whatnot. We have to remove them and sometimes they just grow abnormally, so that’s a possibility and then even just the facilities to handle them, you know, so we have to remove those so they don’t knock them off going through chutes, alleyways, those kind of systems, so safety for the animals. (Dr. Dan) So and then, of course, the last one’s the surgical or what some people term the cosmetic dehorning. (Male) Yeah, sometimes talk about cosmetics, but I do it more often times to closed skin to prevent flies, infection from setting in, so we move the horn and then close it back across, so yes, it seems cosmetic, but it has a function too. (Dr. Dan) Cool. Well I think those are some great kind of leads us off, gets us started on why we do it. when we come back from the break, we’re gonna talk a little bit more about what different types of techniques there are for horn removal on cattle and how we do it without causing a lot of pain. Thanks for joining us. We’ll be back after the break.

(Dr. Dan) Hi there, folks. Welcome back to DocTalk. Dr. Dan Thomson here from the College of Veterinary Medicine at Kansas State University and we’re tickled that you joined us today. I’m joined by Dr. Matt Miesner, who’s a veterinarian and boarded in Internal Medicine. He’s an Associate Clinical Professor working here in our Veterinary Health Center and we’re talking about dehorning cattle and when we left for break, we were talking about the different reasons and I think a lot of people know why we dehorn these animals, but now let’s get into kind of the meat of the situation and talk about the different techniques that we’re gonna use. (Male) Right. I think first and foremost, you want to make it as quick and efficient as possible and probably the most efficient, quick and easiest way to do it would be to take the horns off before they become mature and that would be a disbudding type procedure. (Dr. Dan) So that’s before that’s when they’re young and you grab the horns and they’re still moving with the skin. They haven’t secured down to the skull. (Male) Sure, yeah. It’s almost a little smooth, leathery button on a lot of calves and we can take those off just by damaging what makes the horn before the bone grows and we can do it with things like dehorning irons, which get hot, know, burn around that bud. There’s some paste. They’re kind of caustic that you put on to destroy that veterinary horn and little gouges and various methods to remove that bud as quick, easy, off before it has a chance to mature. Often times, bleeding is minimal and quick. (Dr. Dan) How, you know, when you’re looking at that keratinized tissue, how far out around from that horn do you need to get? (Male) Oh, a small bud, you know, we’re getting out, it’s nice to be a quarter inch outside that bud. You know it’s kind of hard to see it, there’s kind of, sort of a little raised bump, but you want to be outside of that area. (Dr. Dan) Then let’s move into some of the different things that you’re gonna do. Once that horn’s attached to the skull and now we have horn development, we’re moving into different types of techniques. (Male) Yeah. same thing goes, we still have to get outside what’s making the horn and what it acutely is a piece of bone covered by horn and, so, it’s following that bone up and we have to get that tissue that makes the horn and there’s several ways we can do that. we’ve got probably the most common one would be a gouge or barns types dehorn, which the horn fits within it, we open up the handle and we crush and take the horn, skin and bud off that way. We have various types of dehorners that will chop, trim, you know, Guillotine type dehorners. (Dr. Dan) Yup, keystone. (Male) Keystone type, really large horns, we’ve got those. (Dr. Dan) We probably need to back up a little bit because these are this is dehorning. This is taking the horn clear off and getting the keratinized tissue, getting a margin around that horn and taking the whole thing. (Male) Bone, horn, everything around the outside comes off with it, so yeah, that’s a dehorning method. The other one, which we showed about we had, wires, you know, we can use OB wire or wire saws to cut those off and those are nice to get really hot and actually cauterizes as we go through. Any of these dehorning methods will have some bleeding when you use these burners or different ways to cauterize those vessels. Those are big dehorning, taking the entire thing off to the base. Then we have the tipping methods where basically you’re taking the end of the horn where we’re gonna leave part of it, we’re not gonna take it to the base, safer, less bleeding. (Dr. Dan) Well when we look at many of these different methods, different agents, different animals, some complications can occur, so when we come back from the break, let’s talk a little bit about some of those complications and we’ll return right after the break.

(Dr. Dan) Hi there, folks. Welcome back to DocTalk. I’m here with Dr. Matt Miesner. He’s a veterinarian and he’s also a boarded Internal Medicine Specialist and we are talking about dehorning cattle and when we dehorn when we left, we were talking about tipping and I think we back track just a little bit to kind of clarify the difference between dehorning and tipping. (Male) Yeah, tipping, often times you’ll see that with rodeo bulls, rough stock, those are probably the most common place people have seen that where you don’t take the entire horn, you just take the tip, a portion back to, you know, a silver dollar size blunted area, so you’re blunting the horns. (Dr. Dan) And, so, this is the insensitive part, it’s kind of like clipping your fingernails, the way I’d describe it. You’re just trying to round that horn off so it’s not pointed. They can’t use it as a weapon. (Male) And there is a little sensation in there, there’s a little sensation, but very minimal and, but there’s still some blood vessels, so you don’t want to go too far. That would lead to some of the complications that we can talk as well. So, you know, disbudding, dehorning, tipping and it’s not always a benign procedure. It’s necessary, but we have to take some precautions. (Dr. Dan) And I have seen some things in, you know, feedlot facilities where, you know, most people do a great job at tipping, but the one thing that just kind of gets to me is when we tip that horn when we decide the tipping is going about halfway between the base of the horn and the tip and we’re cutting through skull, bone, very vascular area, might as well just take the whole thing off if you’re gonna do that, so. (Male) And, you know, not just bone, blood and whatnot, but no, you’re actually within the sinus cavity in case that horn will be hollow out that far. (Dr. Dan) Absolutely. So, you know, it kind of leads us to a spot and I think that it’s one of those that’s a sensitive area. It’s one of those that we deal with on a day-to-day basis when we’re talking about dehorning and that’s pain control and making sure that these are painless procedures and what are someƖI know that we can’t make all procedures painless and sometimes our unintended consequences of making something painless can create more pain by running the animals through the chute more times, increasing anxiety and stress, but when we’re gonna do some of these big dehorns, what are some of the things you recommend? (Male) Big dehorn, it’s becoming standard of care in some of those situations, you know, you’re right. You can house and group them, they can get traumatized, but we’re gonna numb it, the horn, so that we can do a good, safe job handling this quick anytime we can. Small numbers, large horns, I’m gonna take the time, it doesn’t hardly at all to numb the nerves that supply that horn and they resist less so you have less trauma in the chute. It’s less painful, you know, so it’s one of those things that all-in-all, less stress, less pain, less a big to do to get it done and I think that standard (?) requires to do that. (Dr. Dan) Yup, work with a local veterinarian and get your either get the product or have the veterinarian come out and do those big dehorns. (Male) Yup. (Dr. Dan) Well I think it’s important and I think when we come back, we’re gonna have one more segment, but let’s come back and talk about some of the problems that go on, how we solve those and then how we can move forward and prevent them. Thanks for being here. Thank you for watching us. We’ll be back with more DocTalk right after the break.

(Dr. Dan) Hi there, folks. Welcome back to DocTalk. Dr. Dan Thomson here with Dr. Matt Miesner. We are both from Kansas State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine and Matt is an Associate Clinical Professor, works in our Referral Clinic and also does some haul and ambulatory work here at Kansas State University’s Veterinary Health Center on many cattle and we’re talking about dehorning. Gone through the why’s, the how’s, the pain-free. Now let’s get to some of the problems that can occur. (Male) Well first and foremost, we always think of hemorrhage or severe bleeding and there’s not doubt about, you don’t wear your nice clothes a lot of times when you’re doing these kind of procedures and, so, there’s a lot of bleeding and we’re gonna take every precaution we can to control it, whether that’s actually find the vessels and twist those down or use some powders to help a clot form or heat, you know, hot irons and cauterize, you know, so bleeding would be far and above the quick, the immediate thing that we’re gonna do. So we can prevent that by doing them early on, you know, very little bleeding or we just take some precautions to take care of it at the time. (Dr. Dan) And I think that’s the key. If you’re gonna dehorn, do it as early as possible. (Male) Right, yeah, yeah, quick, yeah. (Dr. Dan) I think people would be amazed to know that fifty percent of the dairy cows are born with horns, you know, but you never see a horn in the parlor. (Male) No, no and (Dr. Dan) And they take care of them as babies. (Male) As babies, so, I mean, we do that on a routine basis in the dairies and, so. (Dr. Dan) Alright, back to the issues, but one that we see too is flies, right? (Male) Right. So after we take care of the horn, we’re gonna have an open wound that’s gonna have to take time to heal and flies laying eggs lead to maggots and, so, fly control, repellents, those kind of things to prevent infection that way and, you know, the wound itself can get infected, but I think flies are a big difference and, so, there’s the situation where we might go back to a surgical dehorn where we can remove the horn and then take the skin and suture it back across the wound, a lot less likely to get infected or flies. (Dr. Dan) And I think that, you know, flies carry a lot of different bacteria that people don’t realize, E. coli, salmonella and probably some of our pathogens that’ll setup some of these infections of the wounds. (Male) Sure, yeah. (Dr. Dan) What about the sinusitis and I think this is the one that kind of, you know, when you’re opening up that sinus with a dehorn, we can have some issues. (Male) For sure and it’s nasally, so now we’re getting even deeper than just a superficial wound. It seals over that hollow horn or those vessels travel right in the front part of that forehead of that bovine and can setup an infection, sinusitis sets in, headache and then we have a now just a puss filled sinus and really difficult to treat. I mean you can see some discharge from the nose occasionally, but you’ll see occasionally head pressing in a wall or a fence, just like you would with a sinus headache and hard to treat and trying to get that drained, but we try to prevent that by getting good drainage antibiotics and wound care early on, so. (Dr. Dan) Yup, clean equipment and work with your veterinarian. (Male) Right. (Dr. Dan) Thanks for being here today. (Male) Glad to be here. Fun time. (Dr. Dan) You did a great job. Folks, remember, always work with your local veterinarian and if you want to know more about what we do on DocTalk, you can find us at www.doctalktv.com. Thanks to Dr. Miesner for joining us here today, lots of things to know about dehorning. Work with your local veterinarians. Thanks for watching DocTalk today. I’m Dr. Dan Thomson and I’ll see you down the road.

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