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Document created: April 2022
Author: Gemma May
Approved by: Ian Roper
Disbudding and Dehorning
Protocol for Vet Techs
The purpose of this protocol is to allow the vet tech to carry out disbudding/ dehorning under the
direction of a veterinary surgeon of Westpoint Farm Vets even if not under direct supervision. There
is no requirement for a veterinary surgeon to be on site.
Species covered: Cattle / Calves
Health and safety: The vet tech will work in accordance with the health and safety policy.
When performing a dynamic risk assessment, it is at the vet tech’s discretion to not continue
if there are significant risks to the health and safety of themselves, the animals, the farm
employees or public.
The vet tech;
must use any equipment available that is designed to reduce risks while performing the task
in hand, provided it is well maintained, in good working order and fit for purpose;
must be able to use the handling and other safety equipment provided; must be aware of
the dangers when handling livestock and be directly and continuously supervised until they
are competent;
must be able to work calmly with the animals, without displaying impatience or utilising
unnecessary force;
must be in good health and properly trained in safe work methods.
VetPartners Documents relating to this policy.
Cattle handling risk assessment
Cattle handling guidance
Health and Safety policy statement
Accident reporting category guidance
Biosecurity in practice
Needlestick injuries in veterinary practice
Emergency procedures SOP sharps injury
Carrying compressed gas guidance
Compressed gas cylinders SOP safety guidance
Document created: April 2022
Author: Gemma May
Approved by: Ian Roper
Restraint: Cattle crushes and a race and gate system must be used for adult cows; calf crushes are
useful when working on a large number of animals although not essential.
For disbudding – If the farm has a calf crush and it is to be used, follow the instructions for
that specific crush.
If there is no option to use a calf crush the vet tech may be able to restrain the calf on their
own if in pens. To ensure the comfort of the calf and minimise distress, back the calf into a
corner using your body to hold them against the two supporting walls, if able place your
front leg slightly in front of the calf so it can’t push forward, use your arm to pull the head
around toward you and hold it in place.
For dehorning – This requires more than one person, and the vet tech should be supported
by farm employees. The animals should be safely passed through the race one at a time into
the crush and the head secured by the yoke. A bar can be placed behind the legs for reduced
movement. A halter placed on the animal’s head will allow for the head to be pulled around
to one side and the length of the halter tied tightly to the side of the crush to secure the
head in place, tie to opposite side when working on the other horn. Take care to secure the
halter with a quick release knot to allow for swift untying in the event of cattle doing down.
Technique: Before doing anything make sure that the calf/cow is not naturally polled.
Disbudding - Local anaesthetic to be administered using the cornual block. Inject 5ml either
side at the described location. Give 5-10 for the anaesthetic to take effect. Once suitably and
safely restrained, locate the horn bud and use clippers remove the hair over and
immediately around it, to present it ready for the hot disbudding iron and to achieve a
cleaner disbud.
Ensure the irons are at maximum temperature to optimise their suitability to perform the
task appropriately and that there is enough gas in to complete the task. Apply the hot iron
directly over the bud, so that the outer ring of the iron head is in direct contact with the
horn producing tissue around the base of the horn bud. After firmly holing in place for 2-3
seconds, tilt the iron at an angle and rotate your wrist 360 degrees while applying some
pressure, after repeating this a few times you should feel the bud loosen, push the iron
underneath the bud and scoop it out. Check that the iron has destroyed all of the horn
producing tissue by looking for a copper ring around the edge of the burnt site. If there is
any bleeding or white areas apply the iron directly to those areas for no more than 3
seconds to seal. Once both buds are removed apply antiseptic spray.
Dehorning - Local anaesthetic to be administered using the cornual block. Once suitably and
safely restrained by securing the animals head to the side of the crush one side at a time
Inject an appropriate dose for the animal’s size at either side at the described location. Give
5-10 minutes for the anaesthetic to take effect. Using the dehorning wire securely attached
to the dehorning saw handles, find the base of the horn, standing slightly to the side of the
animal’s head, place the wire around the further side of the horn, holding a handle in each
hand, start a sawing motion to get a bite into the horn, continue to saw until the horn is fully
removed, use the dehorning shears or Barnes dehorners to remove any uneven areas that
were missed by the wire. Use the hot iron to stem the bleeding, place over any white or
Document created: April 2022
Author: Gemma May
Approved by: Ian Roper
bleeding areas until the bleeding is significantly reduced or stops. After securing the animal’s
head to the other side of the crush, repeat the process. When both horns are removed apply
the antiseptic spray.
Medication: All medications for the animals in question are prescribed by a vet, and suitable for the
task in hand. All data sheets are to be followed and the medication is administered in accordance
with the instructions. All withdrawal period information, batch numbers and expiry dates are to be
given to the farmer. Contraindications have been considered by the prescribing vet and the vet tech
made aware.
Procaine (either 40 or 50mg/ml). Inject 5-10ml either side at the described location.
Anti-inflammatory – meloxicam 20mg/ml. Inject 1ml/40kg bodyweight subcutaneously. All
medications are prescribed by a vet, for the animals in question. All data sheets followed.
All withdrawal period information, batch number and expiry date is to be given to the
farmer.
Cyclo blue spray or Aluspray (the vet tech is unable to carry Cyclo spray as van stock so
would need to use from the farms stock, or bring a can along to sell to the farmer)
Equipment required: Hurdles, handheld disbudding iron, enough butane gas cans, dehorning saw
handles, horn removal wire and pliers to cut it with, syringes, needles, appropriate cutaneous spray,
cattle halter, calf halter, calf weigh tape, wireless clippers, dehorner (barnes or shears), sharps bin.
PPE required: Waterproofs, suitable waterproof safety footwear, gloves
Biosecurity measures: The vet tech will arrive on farm clean and presentable, carrying no soil,
organic matter or bodily fluids on their person or clothing from previous locations. They will wear
gloves throughout the procedure. Once the procedure is complete the vet tech will scrub down their
hands and arms and disinfect their waterproofs and boots using a 1 in 20 dilution rate of Fam 30
multi-purpose iodophor disinfectant.
Statement of competency: I …………………………………………… Veterinary surgeon, of Westpoint farm
vets, deem that ……………………………………., Veterinary Technician, is suitably competent to carry out
this procedure and confirm that observations have been made to support this conclusion. See
separate observation record.
Signed: Date:
I …………………………………, Veterinary Technician, of Westpoint farm vets, agree to adhere to the
written protocol for this procedure.
Signed: Date:
Review: Annually or if issues arise.

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Protocol - Disbudding and Dehorning.docx

  • 1. Document created: April 2022 Author: Gemma May Approved by: Ian Roper Disbudding and Dehorning Protocol for Vet Techs The purpose of this protocol is to allow the vet tech to carry out disbudding/ dehorning under the direction of a veterinary surgeon of Westpoint Farm Vets even if not under direct supervision. There is no requirement for a veterinary surgeon to be on site. Species covered: Cattle / Calves Health and safety: The vet tech will work in accordance with the health and safety policy. When performing a dynamic risk assessment, it is at the vet tech’s discretion to not continue if there are significant risks to the health and safety of themselves, the animals, the farm employees or public. The vet tech; must use any equipment available that is designed to reduce risks while performing the task in hand, provided it is well maintained, in good working order and fit for purpose; must be able to use the handling and other safety equipment provided; must be aware of the dangers when handling livestock and be directly and continuously supervised until they are competent; must be able to work calmly with the animals, without displaying impatience or utilising unnecessary force; must be in good health and properly trained in safe work methods. VetPartners Documents relating to this policy. Cattle handling risk assessment Cattle handling guidance Health and Safety policy statement Accident reporting category guidance Biosecurity in practice Needlestick injuries in veterinary practice Emergency procedures SOP sharps injury Carrying compressed gas guidance Compressed gas cylinders SOP safety guidance
  • 2. Document created: April 2022 Author: Gemma May Approved by: Ian Roper Restraint: Cattle crushes and a race and gate system must be used for adult cows; calf crushes are useful when working on a large number of animals although not essential. For disbudding – If the farm has a calf crush and it is to be used, follow the instructions for that specific crush. If there is no option to use a calf crush the vet tech may be able to restrain the calf on their own if in pens. To ensure the comfort of the calf and minimise distress, back the calf into a corner using your body to hold them against the two supporting walls, if able place your front leg slightly in front of the calf so it can’t push forward, use your arm to pull the head around toward you and hold it in place. For dehorning – This requires more than one person, and the vet tech should be supported by farm employees. The animals should be safely passed through the race one at a time into the crush and the head secured by the yoke. A bar can be placed behind the legs for reduced movement. A halter placed on the animal’s head will allow for the head to be pulled around to one side and the length of the halter tied tightly to the side of the crush to secure the head in place, tie to opposite side when working on the other horn. Take care to secure the halter with a quick release knot to allow for swift untying in the event of cattle doing down. Technique: Before doing anything make sure that the calf/cow is not naturally polled. Disbudding - Local anaesthetic to be administered using the cornual block. Inject 5ml either side at the described location. Give 5-10 for the anaesthetic to take effect. Once suitably and safely restrained, locate the horn bud and use clippers remove the hair over and immediately around it, to present it ready for the hot disbudding iron and to achieve a cleaner disbud. Ensure the irons are at maximum temperature to optimise their suitability to perform the task appropriately and that there is enough gas in to complete the task. Apply the hot iron directly over the bud, so that the outer ring of the iron head is in direct contact with the horn producing tissue around the base of the horn bud. After firmly holing in place for 2-3 seconds, tilt the iron at an angle and rotate your wrist 360 degrees while applying some pressure, after repeating this a few times you should feel the bud loosen, push the iron underneath the bud and scoop it out. Check that the iron has destroyed all of the horn producing tissue by looking for a copper ring around the edge of the burnt site. If there is any bleeding or white areas apply the iron directly to those areas for no more than 3 seconds to seal. Once both buds are removed apply antiseptic spray. Dehorning - Local anaesthetic to be administered using the cornual block. Once suitably and safely restrained by securing the animals head to the side of the crush one side at a time Inject an appropriate dose for the animal’s size at either side at the described location. Give 5-10 minutes for the anaesthetic to take effect. Using the dehorning wire securely attached to the dehorning saw handles, find the base of the horn, standing slightly to the side of the animal’s head, place the wire around the further side of the horn, holding a handle in each hand, start a sawing motion to get a bite into the horn, continue to saw until the horn is fully removed, use the dehorning shears or Barnes dehorners to remove any uneven areas that were missed by the wire. Use the hot iron to stem the bleeding, place over any white or
  • 3. Document created: April 2022 Author: Gemma May Approved by: Ian Roper bleeding areas until the bleeding is significantly reduced or stops. After securing the animal’s head to the other side of the crush, repeat the process. When both horns are removed apply the antiseptic spray. Medication: All medications for the animals in question are prescribed by a vet, and suitable for the task in hand. All data sheets are to be followed and the medication is administered in accordance with the instructions. All withdrawal period information, batch numbers and expiry dates are to be given to the farmer. Contraindications have been considered by the prescribing vet and the vet tech made aware. Procaine (either 40 or 50mg/ml). Inject 5-10ml either side at the described location. Anti-inflammatory – meloxicam 20mg/ml. Inject 1ml/40kg bodyweight subcutaneously. All medications are prescribed by a vet, for the animals in question. All data sheets followed. All withdrawal period information, batch number and expiry date is to be given to the farmer. Cyclo blue spray or Aluspray (the vet tech is unable to carry Cyclo spray as van stock so would need to use from the farms stock, or bring a can along to sell to the farmer) Equipment required: Hurdles, handheld disbudding iron, enough butane gas cans, dehorning saw handles, horn removal wire and pliers to cut it with, syringes, needles, appropriate cutaneous spray, cattle halter, calf halter, calf weigh tape, wireless clippers, dehorner (barnes or shears), sharps bin. PPE required: Waterproofs, suitable waterproof safety footwear, gloves Biosecurity measures: The vet tech will arrive on farm clean and presentable, carrying no soil, organic matter or bodily fluids on their person or clothing from previous locations. They will wear gloves throughout the procedure. Once the procedure is complete the vet tech will scrub down their hands and arms and disinfect their waterproofs and boots using a 1 in 20 dilution rate of Fam 30 multi-purpose iodophor disinfectant. Statement of competency: I …………………………………………… Veterinary surgeon, of Westpoint farm vets, deem that ……………………………………., Veterinary Technician, is suitably competent to carry out this procedure and confirm that observations have been made to support this conclusion. See separate observation record. Signed: Date: I …………………………………, Veterinary Technician, of Westpoint farm vets, agree to adhere to the written protocol for this procedure. Signed: Date: Review: Annually or if issues arise.