Horns are paired growths on the head of bovine species. The primary function of horns was male competition for mates, protection against predators and to aid in competition for food resources. Horned cattle pose a risk to other cattle and handlers. Horned cattle can injurie other cattle or the handler which can cause lacerations and infections. They also require more space at a feed trough and on cattle trucks. In order to avoid issues related to horns, calves are dehorned using hot iron, spoon or tube dehorners or caustic paste to prevent horn growth. Dehorning procedures cause pain and distress to animals and there is the potential for the wound site to become infected and compromise animal growth. Hence, breeding polled cattle may constitute a non-invasive option to replace the common practice by means of genetic selection. Polled cattle are desired for practical and economic reasons, such as reduced risk of injuries for other cattle and humans and are easier and safer to handle.
Additional note: Some Cattle have hornlike formations named Scurs. Scurs occur occasionally in a wide variety of sizes and forms as an unexpected phenotype when breeding polled cattle. They grow slower than a normal horn. Sex and polledness affects scurs. Bulls have much more often scurs than cows. Scurs occur only in heterozygotic polled (one polled gene and one horned gene) animals. If the animal has two horned genes and therefore is horned or two polled genes and therefore is homozygotic polled, scurs have no effect. There is no genetic test for scurs yet.