AbstractsMedical & Health Science

Hot-iron disbudding pain in calves : Studies on perception of pain and options to increase pain alleviation

by Ann-Helena Hokkanen

Institution: University of Helsinki
Department: Kliinisen tuotantoeläinlääketieteen osasto
Year: 2015
Keywords: eläinten hyvinvointitiede
Record ID: 1145106
Full text PDF: http://hdl.handle.net/10138/153841


Disbudding entails destroying calves horn buds, and in dairy farming is most often done with a hot-iron. Disbudding is routinely carried out because hornless cattle are considered to be safer for themselves and for humans. Hot-iron disbudding is very painful and causes severe pain-related distress and behavioural changes in calves. Options for treating disbudding-related pain during the procedure, and for 24 hours subsequently, are well known, but continued pain and its management are not much studied in calves after disbudding. Pain can cause restlessness and thus affect calves lying time. Pain in humans and rats also changes sleeping behaviour. Pain connected with disbudding often remains untreated. Reasons for this are unclear. Therefore, more knowledge and research are needed on the recognition of calves pain after hot-iron disbudding, on the duration of pain and on options to treat it in an effective, safe and practical way. Research is also needed on producer knowledge and attitudes towards pain in calves and their decision-making in connection with pain alleviation. The objectives of the work reported in this thesis were all connected with gaining an improved understanding of producer perceptions about pain caused to young calves by hot-iron disbudding, and with options available to increase the use of pain alleviation for this common and painful procedure. Initially we asked dairy producers for their perceptions towards disbudding pain in calves. Then, in order to be able to study the duration of pain after disbudding in the future, we attempted to develop a new device to measure calves lying and sleeping time: a small, neck-based, wireless accelerometer system. Because new methods and various options for pain alleviation are needed, we investigated if sublingual detomidine provided sufficient sedation in calves to allow administration of local anaesthetics prior to disbudding. Because the use of pain alleviation is often a choice faced by producers, we wanted to study Finnish dairy producers interests and motivation regarding pain alleviation in connection with disbudding. We studied Finnish dairy producers perceptions on disbudding-related pain and the need for pain alleviation, and how such perceptions affect the actual practice of pain alleviation. Finnish dairy producers estimated disbudding pain to be severe and producer estimation of pain severity caused by disbudding was correlated with their sensitivity to pain caused by different cattle diseases in general. We were able to develop an accurate device for measuring calves lying and sleeping time. Detomidine oromucosal gel was an effective sedative for calves before infiltration of local anaesthetics and disbudding. Finnish dairy producers who estimated the disbudding-related pain and need for pain alleviation to be high had a veterinarian medicate calves before disbudding more often than producers who ranked disbudding pain and need for pain alleviation lower. Because more studies on duration and alleviation of disbudding pain are needed,…