In October 2019 Animal Welfare regulations around calf disbudding are changing and local anaesthetic will be required when disbudding your calves regardless of who does the job. Dargaville Vet Centre offers gold standard disbudding using sedation and local anaesthetic. There is also the added option of administering added pain relief in the form of a NSAID that lasts beyond the effect of the local anaesthetic.
We recommend disbudding calves at 2-6 weeks old as their horn buds are still small and not yet attached to the skull. Under sedation the procedure is very quick and a lot less stressful for the calf, the farmer, and the vet. Reduced pain means calves hardly vocalise and recover faster which allows them to carry on growing at the same rate after they are disbudded. The extra benefit to having the calves sedated is that we can easily do other jobs at the same time including extra teat removal, BVD earnotch sampling, DNA sampling, and putting rings on male calves. We send a vet and a technician so that all the farmer has to do is show us where the calves are and they can then get on with their jobs for the day.