Last fall, the American Veterinary Medical Association accepted comments on its policy governing the common cattle industry practices of dehorning and castration. Veterinary consultant Dr. Gwendy Reyes-Illg submitted comments on behalf of AWI that encouraged adoption of a policy supporting routine pain relief for the procedures. The AVMA recently announced a revision, replacing its combined castration/dehorning policy with two separate policy statements.
The dehorning policy has been strengthened considerably. Previously, pain control was recommended only for dehorning, but it is now the standard of care for both dehorning and disbudding, which involves creating third-degree burns via a hot iron or caustic chemical. The AVMA also calls for research leading to approved analgesics for the procedure. The revised castration policy encourages veterinarians to train clients to recognize pain and “advocate for the use of procedures and practices that reduce or eliminate pain and distress,” including pain medications and low-stress handling.