Butler County Times Gazette
The Dehorning Debate
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By Katie Stockstill-Sawyer
April 4, 2013 12:01 a.m.



It seems Ryan Gosling has a soft-spot for cattle. Unfortunately he’s opting to donate his celebrity status to a group that does not have the best interest of livestock in mind.

The AP reported Wednesday that Gosling has decided to take on the plight of horned dairy cattle, issuing a letter to the National Milk Producers Association urging them to take a stance against dehorning dairy cows.

That request seems simple enough – most dairy and beef cattle have been bred to not grow horns – but the idea of preventing livestock owners from removing horns from animals interfere with the ability of ranchers to properly care for their herd.

Modern technology and understanding of genetics has allowed dairy and beef cattle breeders to engineer breeds that are born without horns. Most livestock owners have bred horns from their herds but genetic traits remain in many breeds that result in animals growing horns.

Many times these horns grow at an angle that proves dangerous for the animal and their owners. These horns can be used as weapons when cattle come in contact with one another or with their owners and other farm animals. Even if an animal does not intend to cause harm, their horns can impact others in the herd.

The American Veterinary Medical Association reports that dehorned cattle “present a lower risk of interference from dominant animals at feeding time; pose a reduced risk of injury to udders, flanks and eyes of other cattle; present a lower injury risk for handlers, horses and dogs; and exhibit fewer aggressive behaviors associated with individual dominance.” The AVMA supports dehorning in livestock.

Horns also prevent animals from fitting into livestock trailers, working pens and other pieces of equipment ranchers rely on to work and care for their animals.

Many cattle owners opt to remove the horns while others turn the horns – using weights – so they grow down and not out. Removing horns does cause some discomfort for the cattle but the process is quick and the animals recover quickly. Livestock owners have the ability to apply local anesthesia to help further decrease the discomfort.

No livestock owner performs a procedure on his or her animals that does not in some way benefit the long-term health and well-being of the animal. When necessary, we remove the horns of cattle on our farm. Everything we, as animal owners, do is in the best interest of our animals and done with purpose and care.

We care for our animals because they are our business, our live hood and our way of life.

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