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New calf disbudding regulations

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14 July 2020

Everyone should be aware of the new MPI regulations for disbudding that came into effect on the 1st of October last year; local anesthetic MUST be used when disbudding and dehorning animals. In this regulation Disbud means to destroy, by ANY method, free-floating immature horn tissue. Failure to do so can result in a criminal conviction and fines of up to $3000 for individuals and $15,000 for businesses. 

We are here to make your disbudding experience less stressful! You have a couple of options, individual people can be trained to use local anesthetic by us, or you can get people experienced in using local anaesthetic (like your local vets and techs here at West Coast Vets) to come and do the job for you. 

Having us out to train your staff or yourself to use local is an option if you have the staff and time for the job. For the initial training it will take some extra time to make sure everyone is capable and confident in administering the local and also capable of noticing when calves are still feeling pain and in need of more local. Initially these visits usually take 1-2 hours. Because local is a restricted veterinary medicine we will need to do annual authorisations for you to continue using it, these will mostly be a quick visit and chat and for you to demonstrate the correct technique for us to authorise your continued use of local anesthetic. We had super reports from the farmers last year that we trained. They could not believe how much easier it made the job and were wishing they’d started using it years ago! 

Having us out to do the job for you comes with many benefits! We have a highly skilled team who disbud roughly 10,000 calves each year. They are very experienced and can get the job done very swiftly and competently. We also sedate calves which gives an excellent opportunity to give them a good once over. Whilst they’re having their wee sleep we vaccinate them, snip any extra teats off, castrate any unwanted bulls and check/treat any health problems such as: navel infections, abscesses, mastitis, hernias, lameness and anything else you may be worried about. Having them sedated also gives you a fantastic opportunity to tag/ DNA sample and record data with a lot less stress and makes the job very fast. We all know how busy calving time is, so we don’t require you to be there if you wish to be doing one of the many other jobs that need to be done at that time of the year. That is provided we’ve got enough information on what you would like done; you’re welcome to leave us to it. 

Calves can be disbudded from 2 weeks of age and for best results should be done before they are 6 weeks. The benefits of using local anesthetic are impressive. The majority of our farmers have been using it for years, with some of these benefits including: 

  • Calves are easier to handle during procedure.

  • Less pain & stress for the calf 

  • Reduced growth delay post-disbudding & reaching weaning weight earlier 

  • Faster wound recovery

Give us a call to discuss your disbudding options.

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