A guide to best practice in beef cattle – Branding, castration and dehorning

Meat & Livestock Australia - Ross Newman, Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries Queensland

Type: PDF, Webpage
Knowledge level: Introductory

Farm Table says:

Practical and easy to understand guide on castrating, branding and dehorning beef cattle. I was amazed at the level of information and detail contained in this guide, it will be a handy tool for producers wanting more information on the process and that want to know what other options are available to them.

This detailed guide on branding, castration and dehorning beef cattle provides best practice information on caring for livestock as per “The Cattle Code”. It provides producers with a full step by step guide on the various methods to ensure best practice management can be achieved for their enterprise.

Key points were as follows:

  • Animal welfare should be the first point of consideration when handling cattle.
  • The process should be branding first, castrating second and dehorning third. Cattle should be checked for 10 days following to ensure no issues have arisen from these procedures.
  • Dehorning and castrating are classed as surgical produces and it’s important to be aware of the following:
  1. Hygiene standards
  2. The time of day cattle are being handled (coolest is best)
  3. Allowing cattle access to fresh water and to settle into yards before procedure
  4. Separate calves off their mothers just before the procedure to minimise stress
  • Branding is a permanent mark on the body of beef cattle and cannot be removed, it is a much more reliable source of identification than ear tags as it can be seen visually  from a distance.  The two types of branding are 1) freeze brand 2) hot iron brand.
  • Castration is the removal of an animals testicles to prevent it being able to breed in the future, its beneficial as it control genetics within herds and enables easier handling of the animal. The two common types of castration are 1) immediate surgical removal 2) castration rings (longer process) 3) emasculator.
  • Dehorning is the removal of the horns from an animal; it can be avoided by breeding polled cattle (horn-less cattle). Dehorning is done to make the animals safer to handle and safer to other animals.
  • For the full step by step guide on dehorning, castrating and branding, click here.
2007 - Australia - Meat & Livestock Australia - Ross Newman, Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries Queensland
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