I would like to dedicate my page to some of the voices that lent their opinion about our past issue topic of dehorning. We asked for your words, and boy, did we get them. One of them was Gretchen Maine, a retired dairy farmer from Waterville, New York. Her stance on dehorning comes from an experience trying to drive out a group of unruly heifers.

Photo by driftlessstudio/istock 

“One of the heifers got up to about 10 feet from me and put her head down and charged me like a freight train. I had nothing to defend myself with and nowhere to run,” Maine described. “She knocked me down and then proceeded to work me over. I saw her coming and tucked my knees up to my stomach and she hit me again. She threw me about eight feet and came after me again.”

Maine said that she was taught if ever in such a situation, she should “go for their eyes because that’s the only place you can hurt them.”

“Every time she came at me I would grab her whole eye socket and twist it and yell just a hard as I could,” she said. “She threw me four times and finally had me up against the fence. I really thought it was all over as there was an old wire lying on the ground and I couldn’t roll under the fence. I figured that she would either drive me into the dirt or into the fence and I would be cut to smithereens.”

Fortunately, Maine held up the wire and escaped. By the next day as the adrenaline she must have felt subsided, Maine found that she had more sore parts than she ever dreamed. Plus, she also learned why those particular heifers were so boisterous.

“We had a neighbor who always turned out animals that were too small. He wouldn’t feed them, wouldn’t fix the fence, wouldn’t come and get them when they got out, and never dehorned them,” Maine noted. “A bunch of them got in with ours and must have been bunting and hurting ours. They must have worked our heifer over and she took it out on me.”

Sadly for that “killer” heifer, she was laid out of the pasture and home.

“We kept her in the barn for two weeks and you could not make her make a wrong move. You could push her head around or kick at her and she would do nothing,” Maine said. “We sold her because I was just so traumatized by her that I just didn’t want her around. I now have a new respect for cows and will not go into any pasture without something in my hand. All of this is why there will never be an animal with horns on our farm.”

I would like to thank Gretchen as well as the others who took time to speak their minds and share their interesting perspectives. You can join the conversation as well. Send us your feedback and we’ll send you a FARMING market bag. Let’s keep it going!



In the Focus on New York column (June issue of FARMING), the Norway spruce was included in the list of New York’s regulated plants. The correct plant is Norway maple. We regret the error.