No matter what disbudding method you use, there is a small chance horns will regrow. This happens because horns grow from skin at the base of the horn. If skin around the horn bud or base is ineffectively treated or left intact, regrowth is a possibility.
Horn regrowth can be anything from small scurs to fully regrown horns. Such horns will most likely grow distorted, sometimes curling and growing back into the animal’s head. This PDF article from the Canadian Dexter Cattle Association graphically depicts the consequences of a failed dehorning attempt.
One of the top five producer concerns we hear about caustic paste is lack of effectiveness, i.e., horn regrowth. In a University of Guelph study conducted at a custom heifer raising facility, no horn regrowth was observed in more than 200 calves disbudded with caustic paste or caustic stick.
Tips to prevent or manage horn regrowth:
When disbudding a young calf with caustic paste or a hot-iron, be sure to treat a ½-inch (approximately 1-cm) wide ring of skin around the horn bud to prevent regrowth. If dehorning an older animal, remove a ½-inch (approximately 1-cm) ring of skin around the horn base along with the horn itself.
Monitor calves after dehorning to make sure there is no regrowth.
If horn regrowth does appear, dehorn the animal again as soon as possible. If you’re unsure how to deal with the regrowth, consult your veterinarian.
What dehorning method do you use and what has been your experience with horn regrowth?