Effects of a local anaesthetic and a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory analgesic on the behavioural responses of calves to dehorning

Effects of a local anaesthetic and a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory analgesic on the behavioural responses of calves to dehorning
Peer reviewed

Abstract

AIMS: To evaluate the use of local anaesthesia and systemic analgesia for alleviating the distress associated with dehorning by monitoring stimulated behaviours in calves.
METHODS: Eight behaviours were monitored in 3-4 month-old calves dehorned with and without local anaesthesia and/or a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug, from 2 hours after treatment.
RESULTS: Four of the behaviours, lying, grazing or ruminating, tail shaking and ear flicking, were significantly different during the first 4-6 hours of observation in control calves, which were not dehorned, compared to calves dehorned without anaesthesia or analgesia, which suggests that these behaviours are useful indices of the acute pain experienced by calves after dehorning. The behaviour of calves dehorned after both a local anaesthetic and a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory agent had been administered was similar to control calves. The behaviour of calves given only local anaesthesia or systemic analgesia prior to dehorning was similar to that of calves dehorned without any pain relief.
CONCLUSION: These results suggest that calves should be given both a local anaesthetic and a systemic analgesic before dehorning to alleviate the pain associated with this procedure.
KEY WORDS: Calf, dehorning, behaviour, local anaesthetic, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, animal welfare.

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