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Code of Welfare

for Painful Husbandry Procedures

Castrations, Tail Docking, Disbudding and Dehorning

The Code of Welfare for Painful Husbandry Procedures came into force on 1 January 2006, setting the standards required to ensure that castration, tail docking, disbudding and dehorning procedures are both justified and performed in a way that minimises potentially harmful consequences.  The guidance provided here, is to remind you of the Code and the changes involved.  The requirements of the Code apply to all owners or persons in charge of affected animals.

Castration

  • When castrating or shortening the scrotum (cryptorchid) of any animal over the age of six months, pain relief must be used  
  • For spring born animals this procedure should be completed before the end of January
  • If high tension bands are used to castrate an animal, local anaesthetic must be used at any age to provide pain relief.  Research has shown that use of these bands can cause significantly more pain than either surgical or rubber ring castration
  • From a welfare perspective, castration should take place as early as possible without compromising mother-young bonding and colostrum uptake immediately after birth.  If calves up to six months of age are to be castrated using rubber rings, "heavy duty" rings, designed for this purpose are available.

WE CAN HELP!
  • Where cattle over six months of age require castration we can provide these services;
  • Where yards and bull temperature allow, we can perform standing castrations under local anaesthesia 
  • Alternatively, the cattle can be sedated and castrated under local anaesthesia while lying down.  An anaesthetic reversing agent is used after castration to allow the newly created steers to promptly recover and regain their feet.  We can also perform high tension band castration when required

Tail docking
  • Tail docking without pain relief must be performed when the sheep are as young as possible, but without compromised bonding and colostrum intake immediately after birth, and at ages no greater than six months
  • Pain relief must be used when tail docking a sheep over the age of six months
  • The shortening of cattle tails must be limited to removal of the last (terminal) two or three vertebrae of the tail, using a rubber ring applied between joints, and either left to drop off of its own accord; or not less than seven days after the application of the rubber ring, be severed by the use of a sharp instrument as a point below where the rubber ring has been applied and in such a manner as not to cause discomfort to the animal
Dehorning
  • Dehorning without pain relief should be performed when the animals are as young as possible, but without compromising bonding and colostrum intake immediately after birth
  • Pain relief must be used when dehorning any animal over the age of nine months.  The practical consequence of this is that any spring born cattle that are going to be dehorned without pain relief should be dehorned before the end of April, but preferably before Christmas, to avoid the heat and flies of summer

WE CAN HELP!
Calf dehornings -  we can provide two dehorning services.  When yards and a head bail are available we can perform standing dehornings under local anaesthesia.  Alternatively, the cattle can be sedated and dehorned under local anaesthesia while lying down.  An anaesthetic reversing agent is used after dehorning to allow the cattle to promptly recover and regain their feet.

Please contact our clinics if we can provide you with any of these services.