Considering that dehorning can be a labor-intensive, skilled operation with important animal welfare implications, it’s essential that you make the right choice when it comes to buying a calf dehorner.
There are several options to choose from, including both electric and manual dehorners. But considering the simplicity and ease of use of electric dehorners, they are the far more popular and recommended option for 99% of farmers and ranchers.
4 of the Best Calf Dehorners
Best Overall: Portasol Dehorner III Standard
Designed by farmers and veterinary surgeons, calf dehorners don't come better than the Portasol Dehorner III Standard.New: $115.50
Designed by farmers and veterinary surgeons, the Portasol Dehorner III is everything a calf dehorner should be: easy to use, dependable, and very effective for quick dehorning.
The dehorner feels very comfortable in the hand and its easy-to-use cordless design ensures that you can dehorn anywhere and at any time.
With a 45 minute runtime and 20 second refill time, the Portasol Dehorner III is a great option if you need to dehorn several calves at a time.
Also Great: Dehorner Electric X-30
If you don't need a cordless dehorner, the Dehorner Electric X-30 is an excellent alternative to Portasol's model.New: $104.93
The Dehorner Electric X-30 is another great professional-grade dehorner to consider, especially if you don’t mind using a non-cordless option.
Despite reaching close to 1,000 degrees, the device’s perforated housing ensures that the handle is always cool and comfortable to handle, recovery between applications takes just seconds, and there is no chance of blood loss or open flesh wounds to your calves when dehorning.
Budget Pick: Ideal Instruments Electric Dehorner for Cattle
The Ideal Instruments Dehorner is basic in appearance, but it will get the job done.New: $78.26
The Ideal Instruments Electric Dehorner might look pretty basic, but it gets the job done.
This no-frills, made in the USA, calf dehorner operates on 110 Volts, AC or DC, and has a 1″ inner diameter that makes it suitable to be used on older calves.
Best Manual Dehorner: Neogen 2101 13″ Barnes Dehorner
If you're confident and comfortable with using a manual dehorner, the Neogen 2101 is a great choice.New: $33.40
If you don’t mind using a manual calf dehorner, the Neogen 2101 13″ Barnes Dehorner is the one to get.
Constructed with very sharp stainless steel cutting edges, dehorning your calves is about as easy as you can expect from a manual device. The dehorner’s poly-coated grips reduce slippage and increase comfort while dehorning.
Important Things to Consider When Buying a Calf Dehorner
- Electric vs. Manual
When it comes to calf dehorners you have two methods to choose from: electric or manual.
Electric, hot iron dehorning is undoubtedly the most popular method of disbudding/dehorning calves because it does not result in an open, raw wound. The use of an electric dehorner ensures that the blood supply will be seared off and the horn bud area will die and drop off.
Manual options include dehorning knives, scoop dehorners, cup dehorners, and guillotine dehorners. Considering that all of these require plenty of practice and experience for best results, they are often avoided.
- Age of Calf
The younger the calf at the time of dehorning, the better it is for both the animal and the operator. There is less pain and stress involved for the animal, as well as less risk of infection. Younger calves are also smaller and easier to handle and restrain.
This doesn’t mean that you can’t dehorn older calves – and some dehorners allow you to do so – but dehorning when young is always the better option.
- Condition of Calf
Calf dehorning is not recommended when the animal is in poor condition or suffers from any sort of health problem. If this is the case, fehorning should be delayed until the calf is in better condition.
If dehorning must absolutely be carried out, it’s important that you buy a calf dehorner that causes as little blood loss or open flesh wounds as possible. A calf in poor health will otherwise heal more slowly and could suffer from complications.
Good hygiene is always important when dealing with calves and other animals, whether that be the cleanliness of your facilities, your hands, or the instruments used. This also includes calf dehorners.
Whether you buy an electric or manual calf dehorner, make sure that you are able to thoroughly clean it after use.