SPCA New Zealand

Man prosecuted over ‘cruel and painful’ dehorning of cattle

24 May 2022
Man prosecuted over ‘cruel and painful’ dehorning of cattle

A Tauranga man who used no anaesthetic when he cut the horns of three cattle so low that they bled like a “fountain”, has been prosecuted by SPCA.

The 59-year-old defendant was convicted and sentenced to pay a fine of $2,250.00, and ordered to pay $130 court costs and $350 towards legal fees. He was sentenced at the Tauranga District Court after admitting three charges of dehorning cattle without pain relief, under the Animal Welfare (Care and Procedures) Regulations 2018.

The offending happened in August 2021 at a Tauranga property. The defendant told a family member he was going to move some cattle and when she asked if he was going to dehorn them, he said he was just going to check their ear tags.

A short time later, the family member went to check on the cattle and noticed they had “fountains of blood” pouring from their horns. She described the blood as spurting like waterfalls and said it was covering the back lawn, driveway, vegetable garden and a shade house. She also noticed one of the cattle was sitting down and appeared lethargic, so she called a local veterinarian for advice.

The following day, SPCA was notified and an Inspector was immediately dispatched to the property. They found a large amount of blood on the ground, and a number of cattle with horns that were shorter than normal. One of these included a brown and white cow that had blood staining on its face, and its horns were shorter than all of the others.

The defendant told SPCA’s Inspector that he’d used a pair of heavy loppers to cut the tips off the horns of three cattle, over concerns that some were bullying others. He also stated that he’d performed the procedure to meet the requirements of both stock transporters and freezing works. The defendant admitted that he did not seek veterinary advice or use any form of pain relief throughout the procedure.

SPCA Chief Executive Andrea Midgen says the pain and suffering the cattle experienced was completely avoidable, and the defendant should have known better.

“It makes me shudder to think of the pain these animals would have endured, as well as the distress the significant bleeding would have caused them. The manner in which this procedure was carried out, with no pain relief, was cruel and the defendant showed no regard for the animals’ welfare,” says Ms Midgen.

A veterinarian who viewed images of the brown and white cattle, as well as blood staining at the scene, said the significant amount of blood indicated that the horns had been cut far below the non-vascular tip. They concluded that the sensitive tissue of the horn had been exposed, meaning the cattle had been dehorned, not tipped.

“Ignorance isn’t an excuse for poor animal welfare,” says Ms Midgen. “Animals are sentient beings and should all be treated with respect. Even if a mistake was made, veterinary treatment should have been sought immediately by the defendant.”

Despite it being illegal to dehorn cattle without local anaesthetic, the defendant said at the time that he was not aware the procedure was prohibited.

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