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Weyl-Feinstein, S.
Shabtay, A.,
Malka, H.,
Adin, G.,
Peleg, G.,
Faktor, G.
Honig, H.

Dehorning and disbudding are considered painful yet important routine husbandry procedures in the global dairy industry. There are several methods of dehorning and disbudding. In Israel, it is common to disbud calves at a few days to one week of age, using a mainly caustic paste, which produces a chemical burn of the horn buds. The use of local analgesics and systemic analgesics or a combination of the two could assist calves in handling the painful procedure for the hours following. In the study, we examined the influence of local anesthesia in two different age groups, on calf welfare. In addition, the influence of systemic analgesics was examined in the group of older calves, since there is no medical indication for the usage of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) in calves below the age of one week. The behavior of the calves was monitored before and during the hours following disbudding, along with blood cortisol levels. Results of this study showed that the age of the calf when undergoing the disbudding procedure influenced welfare. It is not entirely clear whether older calves exhibit signs of pain more clearly, since in the behavioral criteria for calf welfare that was examined in this research, the older group exhibited greater signs of pain, whilst there was no significant difference in blood cortisol levels between the two age groups. Yet, results also showed that when treated with local anesthesia along with systemic analgesia, blood cortisol was lowered more efficiently than shown in all treatment groups. In addition, head-shaking behavior was significantly less frequent compared to all other treatment groups. Thus, the results of this study indicate that there is justification for use of analgesia during the disbudding procedure in common dairy farm husbandry in Israel. In light of this justification, the disbudding procedure should preferably be performed at the age of 8-14 days, since below the age of 7 days there is no medical indication for use of NSAID’s anti-inflammatory drugs.

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Assessing the effect of pain relieving methods during caustic disbudding procedure on dairy calf welfare
76

Weyl-Feinstein, S.
Shabtay, A.,
Malka, H.,
Adin, G.,
Peleg, G.,
Faktor, G.
Honig, H.

Assessing the effect of pain relieving methods during caustic disbudding procedure on dairy calf welfare

Dehorning and disbudding are considered painful yet important routine husbandry procedures in the global dairy industry. There are several methods of dehorning and disbudding. In Israel, it is common to disbud calves at a few days to one week of age, using a mainly caustic paste, which produces a chemical burn of the horn buds. The use of local analgesics and systemic analgesics or a combination of the two could assist calves in handling the painful procedure for the hours following. In the study, we examined the influence of local anesthesia in two different age groups, on calf welfare. In addition, the influence of systemic analgesics was examined in the group of older calves, since there is no medical indication for the usage of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) in calves below the age of one week. The behavior of the calves was monitored before and during the hours following disbudding, along with blood cortisol levels. Results of this study showed that the age of the calf when undergoing the disbudding procedure influenced welfare. It is not entirely clear whether older calves exhibit signs of pain more clearly, since in the behavioral criteria for calf welfare that was examined in this research, the older group exhibited greater signs of pain, whilst there was no significant difference in blood cortisol levels between the two age groups. Yet, results also showed that when treated with local anesthesia along with systemic analgesia, blood cortisol was lowered more efficiently than shown in all treatment groups. In addition, head-shaking behavior was significantly less frequent compared to all other treatment groups. Thus, the results of this study indicate that there is justification for use of analgesia during the disbudding procedure in common dairy farm husbandry in Israel. In light of this justification, the disbudding procedure should preferably be performed at the age of 8-14 days, since below the age of 7 days there is no medical indication for use of NSAID’s anti-inflammatory drugs.

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