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A Canadian Expert Committee on Farm Animal Welfare and Behaviour recommends dehorning cattle using genetics as the most welfare friendly technique.
The Committee recommends promotion of the use of polled sires within the beef industry in Canada.
Owners with guaranteed buyers willing to purchase green calves (horns and testicles in place) at the same price as processed calves (castrated and dehorned), might be advised to avoid these procedures. Most purchasers of green calves are well aware of the risks associated with processing older calves and routinely bid less at auction.The use of a naturally polled bull from naturally polled ancestors over horned breeding cows should result in the birth of polled calves.Continuous use of polled bulls over these female offspring should ensure that all calves continue to be polled.Although the gene for polled has not been identified, its position and markers near it are known.Five markers seem to be close enough to provide 90 per cent accuracy of the polled or horned characteristic being inherited by a calf.
Preconditioned (castrated, dehorned, vaccinated, bunk-adjusted) calves may bring a premium price.