The wisdom of dehorning dairy and station cattle was discussed at the annual conference of the Institute of Inspectors of Stock yesterday.
Mr. Frank Madden (Tamworth) urged that no dehorning should be done after an animal was six months old, for with advancing age the pain of the operation grew in intensity.
Cows of three or four years of age struggled violently, Mr. R. P. Mayer (Inverell) said; and to them it was undoubtedly a very cruel operation. The plugging of the wound, he added, caused great irritation, especially in hot weather. There should be no dehorning after six months.
Mr. F. H. Whyte said expert operation with an efficient machine did no damage and caused little pain.
The president (Mr. C. J. Woollett) said the operation on older cattle was terribly cruel, although the cattle generally appeared to have recovered on the following day.
Mr. J. G. Johnston (Albury) said that seven-year-old bullocks, after being skilfully dehorned, put on fine condition, and Mr. E. Bruce (Mudgee) said dehorning was universal in New Zealand.
Mr. Max Henry (chief veterinary surgeon) said cattle should be dehorned as early as possible, and he favoured the use of caustic on very young calves. The ideal method, however, was to breed hornless cattle. There were many polled breeds from which to breed the horn out.
The Dean of the Faculty of Veterinary Science at the Sydney University (Professor Stewart) said that, though the improvement of stock in Australia was a matter for experts, the path of the expert was thorny, for the farmer was of dubious mind, and wanted results to convince him. But once convinced, he would assist towards the uplift of the Industry.
Mr. Henry addressed the inspectors on the value of sifting evidence in their search for the causation of stock diseases. He commented caustically on the extravagant virtues claimed for many medicines offered for the cure of those diseases.