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Effects of topical anaesthetic and buccal meloxicam on average daily gain, behaviour and inflammation of unweaned beef calves following surgical castration

  • D. Van der Saag (a1), S. Lomax (a2), P. A. Windsor (a1), C. Taylor (a2), P. Thomson (a2), E. Hall (a1) and P. J. White (a1)...


Although the pain caused by castration of calves is a significant animal welfare issue for the beef industry, analgesia is not always used for this procedure, largely because of practical limitations associated with injectable forms of pain relief. Novel analgesic formulations have now been developed for livestock to allow topical and buccal administration, offering practical options to improve cattle welfare if shown to be effective. To assess the effects of topical anaesthetic (TA) and buccal meloxicam (BM) on average daily gain (ADG), behaviour and inflammation following surgical castration of beef calves, a total of 50 unweaned bull calves were randomly allocated to: (1) sham castration (SHAM, n=10); (2) surgical castration (C, n=10); (3) surgical castration with pre-operative buccal meloxicam (CBM, n=10); (4) surgical castration with post-operative topical anaesthetic (CTA, n=10); and (5) surgical castration with pre-operative buccal meloxicam and post-operative topical anaesthetic (CBMTA, n=10). Calves were recorded on video for 5 h following treatment and the frequency and duration of specific behaviours displayed by each animal was later observed for 5 min every hour (total of 25 min). Average daily gain was calculated 1, 2 and 6 days following treatment. Scrotal diameter measurements and photographs of wounds were collected from all castrated calves 1, 2 and 6 days following treatment to evaluate inflammation and wound healing. Infrared photographs were used to identify maximum scrotal temperature. Digital photographs were used to visually score wounds on a numerical rating scale of 1 to 5, with signs of inflammation increasing and signs of healing decreasing with progressive scores. Sham castration calves displayed significantly less, and C calves displayed significantly more foot stamps than all other calves (P=0.005). Observations on the duration of time that calves displayed a hypometric ‘stiff gait’ locomotion, indicated that SHAM calves tended to spend no time, C calves tended to spend the greatest time and all other calves tended to spend an intermediate time displaying this behaviour (P=0.06). Maximum scrotal temperatures were lower in CBM and CBMTA calves than C and CTA calves 2 days following treatment (P=0.004). There was no significant effect of treatment on ADG (P=0.7), scrotal diameter (P=0.09) or wound morphology score (P=0.5). These results suggest that TA and BM, alone or in combination, reduced pain and BM reduced inflammation following surgical castration of calves.


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Effects of topical anaesthetic and buccal meloxicam on average daily gain, behaviour and inflammation of unweaned beef calves following surgical castration

  • D. Van der Saag (a1), S. Lomax (a2), P. A. Windsor (a1), C. Taylor (a2), P. Thomson (a2), E. Hall (a1) and P. J. White (a1)...


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