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Article

Unmitigated Surgical Castration in Calves of Different Ages: Electroencephalographic and Neurohormonal Findings

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Department of Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, Kansas State University, Manhattan, KS 66506, USA
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Department of Animal Science and Industry, College of Agriculture, Kansas State University, Manhattan, KS 66506, USA
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Department of Statistics, College of Art and Sciences, Kansas State University, Manhattan, KS 66506, USA
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Department of Animal Sciences, College of Agricultural Sciences, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523, USA
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Department of Diagnostic Medicine/Pathobiology, College of Veterinary Medicine, Kansas State University, Manhattan, KS 66506, USA
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Department of Anatomy and Physiology, College of Veterinary Medicine, Kansas State University, Manhattan, KS 66506, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Alison Small
Animals 2021, 11(6), 1791; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11061791
Received: 20 May 2021 / Accepted: 11 June 2021 / Published: 15 June 2021
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Pain Mitigation for Farmed Livestock)
Castration is a painful procedure that is commonly performed on cattle without analgesia. Although castration is considered to be more painful in older calves, studies examining the effect of age on electrophysiological and neurohormonal responses to pain under the same experimental conditions are limited. There are several limitations to providing pain mitigation for castration, one being the lack of available approved analgesics for use in alleviating the pain associated with castration in the United States. It is necessary to validate methods of pain assessment in cattle to support the development of pain relief drugs. The aim of this study was to investigate the effect of unmitigated surgical castration on the electroencephalography (EEG) responses and plasma substance P (SP) concentrations in calves, without pain relief across different age groups. Age, time, and procedure (castration or a simulated castration) impacted outcomes. The findings suggest that surgical castration without pain relief causes variations in EEG responses and in SP concentrations and that these responses are age related.
Castration is a common management procedure employed in North American cattle production and is known to cause a pain response. The present study was designed to investigate the effect of unmitigated surgical castration on the electroencephalography (EEG) responses and plasma substance P (SP) concentrations in calves of different ages under the same experimental conditions. Thirty male Holstein calves in three age categories [<6 weeks (6W); 3 months (3M); 6 months (6M); 10 calves per age group] were used in the study. Calves were subjected to a simulated castration session (SHAM) followed 24 h later by surgical castration (CAST) without analgesia. An EEG analysis was performed before the procedure (i.e., baseline), at treatment, and 0–5, 5–10, and 10–20 min post-treatment for both SHAM and CAST, respectively. Blood samples were collected immediately prior to both treatments (time 0) and again at 1, 2, 4, 8, and 12 h after both treatments. The EEG results showed a three-way interaction between treatment, age, and time for delta and beta absolute power, beta relative power, total power, and median frequency (p = 0.004, p = 0.04, p = 0.04, p = 0.03, and p = 0.008, respectively). Following CAST, EEG total power decreased, and median frequency increased relative to SHAM in 6W and 3M calves only following treatment. For 6W and 3M calves, delta and beta absolute power increased at CAST and at later time points relative to SHAM. Marginal evidence for two-way interactions was noted between time and treatment and between age and treatment on the concentration of SP (p = 0.068 and p = 0.066, respectively). Substance P concentrations decreased in CAST treatment compared to SHAM at the later times (8 h: p = 0.007; 12 h: p = 0.048); 6W calves showed lower SP concentration at CAST relative to SHAM (p = 0.017). These findings indicate variation in EEG responses and in SP concentrations following unmitigated surgical castration in calves and that these responses may be age specific. These EEG findings have implications for supporting the perception of the pain associated with surgical castration in young calves and emphasize the urgency of pain mitigation strategies during routine husbandry practices such as castration, as typically implemented in North American cattle management. View Full-Text
Keywords: age; calves; electroencephalography; pain; substance P; surgical castration age; calves; electroencephalography; pain; substance P; surgical castration
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MDPI and ACS Style

Bergamasco, L.; Edwards-Callaway, L.N.; Bello, N.M.; Mijares, S.; Cull, C.A.; Mosher, R.A.; Coetzee, J.F. Unmitigated Surgical Castration in Calves of Different Ages: Electroencephalographic and Neurohormonal Findings. Animals 2021, 11, 1791. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11061791

AMA Style

Bergamasco L, Edwards-Callaway LN, Bello NM, Mijares S, Cull CA, Mosher RA, Coetzee JF. Unmitigated Surgical Castration in Calves of Different Ages: Electroencephalographic and Neurohormonal Findings. Animals. 2021; 11(6):1791. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11061791

Chicago/Turabian Style

Bergamasco, Luciana, Lily N. Edwards-Callaway, Nora M. Bello, Sage Mijares, Charley A. Cull, Ruby A. Mosher, and Johann F. Coetzee 2021. "Unmitigated Surgical Castration in Calves of Different Ages: Electroencephalographic and Neurohormonal Findings" Animals 11, no. 6: 1791. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11061791

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