Disbudding, dehorning and castration

Why is it measured?

Disbudding, dehorning and castration are mutilations permitted under the Mutilations (Permitted Procedures) (England) Regulations 2007. They are painful procedures that are strictly regulated by a number of different pieces of legislation. Local anaesthesia is required when undertaking both disbudding and dehorning by any method – with the exception of disbudding via chemical cauterisation (which can only be undertaken within the first week of life). Dehorning should not be undertaken routinely and, ideally, should be carried out by a veterinary surgeon. Local anaesthesia is required for castration over 2 months of age and, at this point, it can only be undertaken by a veterinary surgeon. It is good practice to also provide longer-acting analgesia when undertaking these procedures, although this is not required by law.

How to assess and score using the AssureWel measure

 7. Disbudding, dehorning and castration                                                                                                                             Records
Record the proportion of non-polled animals that are disbudded or dehorned, the age at disbudding/dehorning and the use of analgesia and anaesthesia. Record the proportion of male animals that are castrated, the age of castration and the use of analgesia and anaesthesia.

  1. Lameness
  2. Cleanliness
  3. Body Condition Score (adult cattle only)
  4. Hairloss, lesions and swellings
  5. Animals with respiratory signs
  6. Cattle needing further care
  7. Disbudding, dehorning and castration
  8. Mortality



Making improvements

  • Links to resources all aimed at improving the welfare of beef cattle
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