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Animals 2018, 8(3), 35; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani8030035

Effects of Topical Anaesthetic and Buccal Meloxicam Treatments on Concurrent Castration and Dehorning of Beef Calves

1
Sydney School of Veterinary Science, Faculty of Science, The University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia
2
School of Life and Environmental Sciences, Faculty of Science, The University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 31 January 2018 / Revised: 25 February 2018 / Accepted: 26 February 2018 / Published: 28 February 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Animal Management in the 21st Century)
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Simple Summary

The pain caused by surgical procedures performed routinely for managing livestock husbandry is recognised as a significant animal welfare issue for food security. In recent years, there has been progress encouraging the uptake of pain relief in extensively managed livestock operations, with research and development offering options for the practical delivery of anaesthetics and analgesics during these procedures. In Australia, topical anaesthetic and buccal meloxicam treatments are now commercially available for use during routine surgical husbandry procedures of lambs and calves. A study to assess the effect of these treatments on weight gain and behavioural variables following concurrent surgical castration and amputation dehorning in beef calves is reported. Results showed that a combination of topical anaesthetic and buccal meloxicam appeared to reduce pain following castration and dehorning, with improved weight gain and increased lying activity in the first few days following the procedures. In addition, some individual behaviours expressed by the calves on the day of treatment suggested pain was relieved by topical anaesthetic and buccal meloxicam, although further clarification of this observation is required. These findings demonstrate that provision of topical anaesthetic and buccal meloxicam to beef calves undergoing surgical castration and amputation dehorning can result in improved animal welfare and production.

Abstract

The use of pain relief during castration and dehorning of calves on commercial beef operations can be limited by constraints associated with the delivery of analgesic agents. As topical anaesthetic (TA) and buccal meloxicam (MEL) are now available in Australia, offering practical analgesic treatments for concurrent castration and dehorning of beef calves, a study was conducted to determine their efficacy in providing pain relief when applied separately or in combination. Weaner calves were randomly allocated to; (1) no castration and dehorning/positive control (CONP); (2) castration and dehorning/negative control (CONN); (3) castration and dehorning with buccal meloxicam (BM); (4) castration and dehorning with topical anaesthetic (TA); and (5) castration and dehorning with buccal meloxicam and topical anaesthetic (BMTA). Weight gain, paddock utilisation, lying activity and individual behaviours following treatment were measured. CONP and BMTA calves had significantly greater weight gain than CONN calves (p < 0.001). CONN calves spent less time lying compared to BMTA calves on all days (p < 0.001). All dehorned and castrated calves spent more time walking (p = 0.024) and less time eating (p < 0.001) compared to CONP calves. There was a trend for CONP calves to spend the most time standing and CONN calves to spend the least time standing (p = 0.059). There were also trends for the frequency of head turns to be lowest in CONP and BMTA calves (p = 0.098) and tail flicks to be highest in CONN and BM calves (p = 0.061). The findings of this study suggest that TA and MEL can potentially improve welfare and production of calves following surgical castration and amputation dehorning. View Full-Text
Keywords: behaviour; castration; cattle; dehorning; buccal meloxicam; pain; topical anaesthetic; weight gain behaviour; castration; cattle; dehorning; buccal meloxicam; pain; topical anaesthetic; weight gain
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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Van der Saag, D.; White, P.; Ingram, L.; Manning, J.; Windsor, P.; Thomson, P.; Lomax, S. Effects of Topical Anaesthetic and Buccal Meloxicam Treatments on Concurrent Castration and Dehorning of Beef Calves. Animals 2018, 8, 35.

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