Inspiring pilot farms

Disbudding calves: How to reduce pain and stress?

Pain management in disbudding by cauterization (hot iron) in calves.




Disbudding in calves is a relatively routine practice, especially in dairy cattle farms. This is mainly because polled animals are easier to handle and dehorning decreases the risk of injury to both people and other animals. Although disbudding is justified, it is undeniably a painful practice during the procedure and the following days.


There is a legislative, ethical and social pressure that further justifies the need for disbudding in calves using practices that are respectful for the welfare of cattle. This section aims to facilitate and solve some of the limitations that currently exist in farms for disbudding with high standards in animal welfare. The main points to be discussed are:

  • How to evaluate and identify pain in ruminants?
  • Which procedure is better in terms of animal welfare?
  • How we choose and administer anaesthesia and analgesia?


Activity funded through the Rural Development Program of Catalonia from 2014 to 2020

(Activity 01.02.01 Transfer Technology)

 Additional information: European Commission website about rural development