Castration of male calves destined for beef production is a common livestock management practice in the United States amounting to approximately 7 million procedures per year. Recently there has been renewed interest in identifying methods to reduce pain associated with dehorning and castration. Although several studies have reported that analgesic drug administration prior to castration attenuates plasma cortisol response, there are currently no compounds specifically approved for pain relief in livestock in the U.S. Validated pain assessment tools are needed to support regulatory approval of analgesic compounds. This may include use of accelerometers, videography, heart rate variability determination, electroencephalography, thermography and plasma neuropeptide measurement to assess behavioral, physiological and neuroendocrine changes associated with a pain response. Extra-label drug use (ELDU) for pain relief is regulated under the Animal Medicinal Drug Use Clarification Act (AMDUCA) and requires that drugs be administered by or under the supervision of a veterinarian. Agents that may provide preemptive analgesia include local anesthetics, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), opioids, alpha 2-agonists, and N-methyl D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor antagonists. A review of the published literature suggests that a significant decrease in plasma cortisol concentration after castration was associated with preemptive administration of a NSAID and local anesthesia. Local anesthesia alone tended to decrease peak plasma cortisol concentrations more than NSAIDs. However NSAIDs alone tended to decrease the area under the plasma cortisol-time curve more than local anesthesia alone. These findings suggest that multimodal analgesic regimens that extend into the post-operative period are more effective at mitigating pain and distress associated with castration than a single drug modality. Regulatory approval of safe and cost effective analgesic compounds with convenient routes of administration is needed for routine use of pain relieving drugs to be considered as standard practice at the time of castration.
|Publication Title||Applied Animal Behaviour Science|
|Author Address||Veterinary Diagnostic and Production Animal Medicine, College of Veterinary Medicine, Iowa State University, Ames, IA 50011-1250, USA. firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com|
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