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Preparing your calves for Disbudding

The North Canterbury Vet Clinic offers a hygienic, safe and convenient disbudding service. We sedate and use analgesia (pain relief) on all calves, these methods are proven to have a positive effect on calf growth rates as well as calf welfare. 

We can disbud approx. 60-80+ calves/hour, although this can depend on the facilities. A benefit for farmers is that they do not need to provide any assistance while the NCVC team is present.

There are a couple of other considerations to note before your disbudding appointment:

  1. The preferred age at disbudding is between 2-6 weeks of age. Small horn-buds are easier to completely remove, leaving only a small wound. Larger buds may require more than one attempt and you can see increased re-growth if left too late.

  2. Calves exposed to rain within 48 hours of disbudding are more likely to develop infections in the wound. If rain is predicted, disbudding should either be delayed, or calves housed in suitable conditions (i.e. dry and clean) during and for the first 48 hours following disbudding. 

  3. Please make sure that on the day of disbudding the calves have not been fed within 4 hours prior to the procedure, this is because we use sedation. Milk should not be fed within three hours of recovery.
  4. To avoid any complications post-sedation the calves should be monitored continuously or checked every twenty minutes for one hour, then hourly for 3-4 hours. Recovery from sedation should take approximately one hour after being injected with Xylazine. Things to watch out for:
    • Any signs of bleeding
    • All calves must lie upright on their chests to protect airways and not flat on their sides
    • If calves are recumbent and in direct sunlight they may need to be moved to a sheltered area. 
    • Delayed hypersensitivity reactions to Xylazine can occur after disbudding. Clinical signs can include drowsiness, dopy, unable to stand or be roused. It is important for herd owners/managers to be informed of this risk prior to use.
  5. In the seven to ten days following disbudding calves are at risk of: 
    • Bleeding 
    • Wound infection 

Please monitor them closely and phone the clinic should you have any concerns.

If any complications arise because of the disbudding process, please let us know and we will arrange follow up care, free of charge.

If you have any enquiries or would like to book in our services please contact Sarah on 027 889 9108.

About the author

North Canterbury Vets are a mixed practice which deals with dairy cows, beef, sheep, deer, horses and alpacas as well as companion animals. Our team has an ethical focus to assist in developing and growing our clients' businesses and providing quality health care to ensure that their livestock and pets live healthy and productive lives.

Our Clinics

North Canterbury Veterinary Clinics operates four clinics throughout the Hurunui region.