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Objective Measures for the Assessment of Post-Operative Pain in Bos indicus Bull Calves Following Castration

By Gabrielle C. Musk, Stine Jacobsen, Timothy H. Hyndman, Heidi S. Lehmann, S. Jonathon Tuke, Teresa Collins, Karina B. Gleerup, Craig B. Johnson, Michael Laurence

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Surgical castration of cattle is a common husbandry procedure, and although this procedure is known to cause pain in cattle and other species, in some countries it is often performed without anaesthesia or analgesia. Society is increasingly aware of this animal welfare issue and it is creating pressure to drive research into animal welfare science with the aim of identifying practical and economical approaches to pain management in livestock. To effectively manage pain, a pain assessment must be performed. Pain assessment methods are often subjective and therefore influenced by the observer. Ideally, objective assessments that generate consistent and repeatable results between observers should be identified. Bos indicus bull calves were divided into four groups: no castration (NC, n = 6); castration with pre-operative local anaesthetic (CL n = 12); castration with pre-operative anti-inflammatory medication (CM, n = 12); and, castration without pain relief (C, n = 12). A range of objective assessments was performed: bodyweight measurements, activity, and rest levels, and four different compounds in the blood. The results of this study suggest that animals rest for longer periods after the pre-operative administration of anti-inflammatory medication. The other objective assessments measured in this study were not able to consistently differentiate between treatment groups. These findings emphasise the need for alternative quantifiable and objective indicators of pain in Bos indicus bull calves.


Katie Osborn

Date 2017
Publication Title Animals
Volume 7
Issue 10
ISBN/ISSN 2076-2615
Publisher Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute
Location of Publication Basel, Switzerland
DOI 10.3390/ani7100076
Language English
Additional Language English
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Animal health and hygiene
  2. Animal welfare
  3. Australia
  4. Castration
  5. Cattle
  6. Husbandry
  7. Mammals