To De-Horn or not to De-Horn? That is the Question.

This story started 4 years ago.

My oldest daughter wanted a cow.  I wanted milk.  So, we got a milk-cow.

While we seeded pastures, erected fencing, built a milking parlor (well, we had it built), we dreamed about our first cow.  She would be a Jersey (because they are the best) and her name would be, “Trinka.”

My daughter picked this name when she was a tiny 10 year old dreaming of her very own cow.  I homeschool my 4 children and we were studying the discovery and founding of America.   The first settlers (pilgrims) brought cows with them to America (that’s how the cows arrived here).

The cow pictured in our book was a beautiful, fawn-colored Jersey.  She wore a giant bell around her neck and was adored by her family.  In the book it was the children’s responsibility to take care of the family milk-cow.  A little boy led her to graze, milked her and took care of her.  The Jersey in the book  had the prettiest horns you’ve ever seen.  She was their pet.  She was gentle.  Her name was, “Trinka.”

My daughter was smitten with the cow in the book and determined that her cow would also be gentle, adored and named, “Trinka.”

Our first cow came from a dairy.  To read all about that:  Family Milk Cow Part 1, Part 2,  Part 3

The cow we bought was older and she already had a name, “Faith.”

Since she had a name, she knew her name, and she even came to her name, we couldn’t really change it to “Trinka.”

Can you just imagine what Faith would think if we suddenly started calling her, ‘Trinka.’  She’d be like,  “Who’s Trinka?”  “I am not Trinka.”  “I am Faith.”  “I am Frisky the Wonder Cow.”  “I am your Walrus.”  “Who’s Trinka?”

Faith was bred when we bought her and we were hopeful she would have a little girl (heifer) calf that we could call, “Trinka.”

milking once a day 2

Calving time came and Faith had a little bull-calf named, “Henry.”

A year or so later we got a call from a friend who had a Jersey cow he wanted to sell us.  He said, “I think she’d be really happy at your place.”

Could this be Trinka?

rosie 9

We agreed and she came to live with us last spring.  When we went out to visit her for the first time we asked her owner if she had a name.  He said, “Yes, his grand kids named her, “Rosie.”

It looked as though we may never have our “Trinka.”

Our cow, Faith, did get bred again last year and we thought just maybe she would give us our long awaited, “Trinka,”  but that pregnancy ended in miscarriage.

No Trinka yet.

As things seem to go around our farm, this fall we got ANOTHER call from another guy about another Jersey cow.  

She was headed to the sale barn and that just breaks my heart.

No Jersey will end up at a sale barn on my watch.

Soooooooooooo

We went to visit the poor, sale-barn-destined, sweet Jersey who needed a good home.

trinka 1

She was the most beautiful cow I have ever seen in my life.  She was fawn-red colored.  She was gentle.  Her eyes were gorgeous.

SHE HAD HORNS!!

trinka 7

No cows have horns anymore (usually).  Horns get in the way.  Horns get caught in fencing.  Horns can hurt other cows.  Horns can hurt the person milking the cow.  Horns can impale small children.  Most folks remove horns.

This beautiful Jersey still had her horns.

trinka 3

When I asked the gentleman who owned her what her name was, he said, “She doesn’t have one.”

“YES SHE DOES!”

“SHE HAS A NAME.”

“YOU JUST DON’T KNOW WHAT IT IS.”

The cow from our Early American History book stepped off the pages and into our lives.

trinka 2

“Her name is, ‘Trinka.”

Can you say, tears?  I had tears in my eyes, goosebumps on my arms.  Trinka just came out of a book and into our lives.  My wonderful God gave my sweet daughter just the cow she has dreamed of.

trinka 6

… And her name is, “Trinka.”

We just purchased Trinka last week.  She is ours now and we are so happy to have her.

Welcome Home, Trinka!

Now that she is here and she is beautiful we have the issue of the horns to deal with.

To Dehorn or not to Dehorn…. That is the Question

Typically, farmers remove horns so no one gets hurt.  Cows with horns can cause problems:

  1. They can get their horns stuck in the fence
  2. They can take down a fence
  3. They can stab the other cows
  4. They can stab people
  5. They can stab small children

Many breeds (like Black Angus or Red Poll) do not have horns at all.  Other breeds (like Jerseys and Texas Longhorns) do have horns.  If you have a horned breed and don’t want your cow to grow horns you will need to take action.

There are several methods used to dehorn cows.  Some farmers burn them.  Some clip them.  Some call the vet and let him deal with them.

On our farm we have always used dehorning paste.

dehorn 1

A few notes on dehorning paste:  wear gloves, take a damp towel with you, wash your hands as soon as you finish.

I’m sure there are some people who are against dehorning paste.  I can think of a few reasons not to use it myself.

As far as simplicity, ease and cost go, you can’t beat it.

To use dehorning paste:

  • As soon as the horn-buds begin to appear, just smear the dehorning paste on the little bumps
  • bumps gone – no horns.

The problems with dehorning paste:

  • If you don’t use gloves – it burns your hands
  • If you don’t use gloves and wash your hands quick – it will remove your fingernails
  • If the cow you are dehorning is in a field with other cows & smears their dehorning paste all over the other critters – they will all have bald spots.
  • If the cow is in a field alone but finds a pole or building or other surface to rub the paste onto they may end up smearing the dehorning paste all over parts of their body you don’t want removed.
  • Anywhere the dehorning paste lands (intentionally or accidentally) it will remove whatever is there now.

dehorn 2

Here is Gwen all alone in a pasture with her dehorning paste on her little nubs.

We separate the cow we are dehorning.  Sometimes it takes a second application, but I have had good luck with dehorning paste.

trinka 6

Dehorning paste is not going to work on these horns.

To remove horns that have been growing for a couple of years you’re going to have to go with something drastic.

We talked things over with our vet when he was here this week.  After hearing him describe:

  1. The giant clamps he would have to use to cut her horns off
  2. The geiser of blood that would come from the holes
  3. The burning he would use to stop the bleeding
  4. The holes that would be in her skull forever
  5. The stress and pain it would cause Trinka (even if anesthetic and analgesic meds are used for pain relief the cow will have some pain & stress from the procedure)

We decided horns are beautiful & Trinka needs to keep hers.

Trinka is a heifer.  This means she is a female cow who has not had a calf yet.  She is bred and is due to have her first freshening (calf) in May.  After she calves we plan to begin milking her.

If her horns become a problem we may “dull” the tips so she can’t hurt anyone, but we are not going to remove them completely.  To dehorn her at this stage of growth would be so hard on her (and me).  Neither of us wants to voluntarily go through anything that traumatic.

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XO,

Candi

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