Cattle de-horning not inhumane, trial told

The de-horning of cattle at a pastoral station was in line with usual industry practice, a vet says.

The de-horning of cattle at a Kimberley pastoral station was in line with standard industry practice, a veterinary surgeon has told an animal cruelty trial in Perth.

Nicolass Francois Botha and his company SAWA Pty Ltd are on trial in the Perth Magistrates Court, each charged with eight counts of being in charge of an animal and causing it unnecessary harm.

The charges relate to the manner in which feral cattle had their horns removed at the 400,000 acre Moola Bulla Station near Halls Creek, with the RSPCA alleging it was done in a cruel way.

Broome-based David Morrell, a vet who has specialised in pastoral cattle for the past 38 years, told the trial on Monday there were safety hazards to handling feral cattle, which charged at each other and people.

He said he'd seen narrow escapes, with workers bashed against railings when they weren't quick enough to jump out of the way.

"They're wild animals. Naturally there's a risk involved," Mr Morrell told the court.

He also said he'd heard of people being gored and even made paraplegic.

Station owners had two choices to deal with wild cattle: muster them and sell them, or shoot them.

Mr Morrell told the court that cattle must have a maximum horn length of 12cm to meet export requirements, so they could have the tip taken off if their departure was imminent.

But if they were being exported later, the horn was taken off closer to the head, Mr Morrell said.

He told the court the de-horning he'd seen at Moola Bulla was consistent with generally accepted practices and was not inhumane, although the "gold standard" was to do it to calves, not fully grown cattle.

The trial continues.