How Caustic Dehorning Paste Works
Dehorning paste typically contains two caustic substances: calcium hydroxide and sodium hydroxide. When applied to the horn bud
, the paste causes a chemical burn that destroys horn-producing cells. A thin film about the size of a nickel is all that’s required. When horn-producing cells are destroyed, horns don’t grow. It’s as simple as that.
Make no mistake: caustic paste is strong stuff. You definitely don’t want it running out of the application area (into the eye, for example), or getting onto other animals – or on you! That’s why it’s important to apply a protective ring of Udder Balm
or petroleum jelly around the horn bud prior to application; wear gloves during application; and keep the animal indoors, out of rain and away from other animals, for six hours.
You may also want to consider administering a topical anesthetic or sedative beforehand. Although paste disbudding has been shown to be less painful than hot-iron disbudding
, it is still uncomfortable. On the other hand, don’t be alarmed if the animal doesn’t react to dehorning paste application. One of our guest bloggers, Jeanne Wormuth of CY Heifer Farm
, usually dehorns 3 to 5-day-old calves when they’re relaxed after a big meal. She tells us some of the calves actually sleep right through the procedure. What have been your experiences with caustic dehorning paste?