New dehorning, castration guidelines put DVMs in middle of painful discussion


These guidelines from AABP cover age of beef and dairy castle at castration and dehorning, proper chemical or manual restraint, and anesthesia and pain relief.

The American Association of Bovine Practitioners (AABP) has created new castration and dehorning guidelines for beef and dairy cattle that recognize the pain of these procedures and explain methods to control the pain. Veterinarians, however, will still be called to choose the best procedures for their practices and clients, says AABP past-president Nigel Cook, DVM.

“These new guidelines on castration and dehorning represent our combined view on the best approach to be taken for performing these procedures,” Cook says, “accepting that the veterinarian of record for the farm is likely the best person to ultimately determine the most appropriate combination of procedures.”

Cook stresses that these new rules are “guidelines, not legislation” and that they will be updated regularly “as new science emerges.” They also include extralabel uses of anesthetic or pain mitigation drugs.

You can read more about the new guidelines at

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