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Cortisol responses of calves to two methods of disbudding used with or without local anaesthetic

Authors: Bruce RA, Stafford KJ, Mellor DJ, Petrie NJ, Ward RN
Publication: New Zealand Veterinary Journal, Volume 44, Issue 1, pp 9-14, Feb 1996
Publisher: Taylor and Francis

Animal type: Cattle, Livestock, Production animal, Ruminant
Subject Terms: Anaesthesia/analgesia/sedation, Animal remedies/veterinary medicines, Animal welfare, Endocrine/autocrine/paracrine, Surgery
Article class: Scientific Article
Abstract: Cattle are disbudded or dehorned using a variety of methods. In this study, plasma cortisol concentrations were used to monitor distress in 6-week-old Friesian calves during the 9 hours following disbudding. Disbudding was carried out with a cautery iron or a dehorning scoop, with or without local anaesthetic. Cautery caused a transient rise in cortisol concentrations which returned to control values within 3 hours. The cortisol response to the scoop was more prolonged, as the plasma cortisol concentrations did not return to control levels until 7.5 hours after disbudding. The administration of a local anaesthetic reduced the cortisol response during the first 2 hours after scoop dehorning. This reduced response was followed by a delayed rise in cortisol concentrations between 2 and 7.5 hours. Cautery caused less distress than the scoop. The administration of local anaesthetic had little effect in alleviating distress in calves disbudded using the cautery iron.
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