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Effect of isoflurane alone or in combination with meloxicam on the behavior and physiology of goat kids following cautery disbudding

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-03, 11:40 authored by Melissa HempsteadMelissa Hempstead, Joseph Waas, Mairi Stewart, Suzanne Dowling, Vanessa Cave, Gemma Lowe, Mhairi Sutherland
This study evaluated the effect of administering general anaesthesia (isoflurane) and/or a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (meloxicam) on goat kid behavior and physiology following cautery disbudding. Trial one (n=12/treatment) evaluated behavior in 72 female Saanen dairy goat kids (5 ± 3 days old) and trial two (n=10/treatment) evaluated physiology in 60 female Saanen dairy goat kids (4 ± 2 days old). Goat kids were randomly assigned to one of six treatment groups that were disbudded given either: 1) no pain relief (CAUT), 2) oral meloxicam (0.2 mg/kg BW; O-MEL), 3) meloxicam s.c. (0.5 mg/kg BW; I-MEL), 4) isoflurane gas (ISO), 5) isoflurane and meloxicam s.c. combined (MEL+ISO), or 6) sham-handled only (simulated disbudding; SHAM). The frequency and duration of head shaking, head scratching, self-grooming, feeding and body shaking were continuously recorded for 24 h pre- and post-treatment. Lying behavior was recorded continuously for 24 h before and after treatment using accelerometers. Plasma cortisol, glucose and lactate concentrations were measured in blood samples collected immediately prior to treatment (baseline) and at 15 min, 1 and 2 h post-treatment. Body temperature was measured immediately after blood sampling at all blood sampling time points. Head shaking and body shaking frequencies were higher at 5 min post-treatment in CAUT than SHAM kids, and lower in MEL+ISO and ISO kids than CAUT kids (P ≤ 0.05). Head scratching durations at 1 h post-treatment were higher in CAUT than SHAM kids (P ≤ 0.05) and O-MEL were similar to SHAM kids from 2 h post-treatment (P > 0.24). Self-grooming and feeding frequency/duration and lying duration did not differ between groups (P > 0.92). Cortisol concentrations were higher (P = 0.04) in CAUT than SHAM kids and MEL+ISO and ISO had lower cortisol concentrations (P ≤ 0.05) than CAUT kids over the 2 h sampling period. Moreover, O-MEL kids had similar cortisol concentrations to CAUT kids (P = 0.86). Plasma glucose and lactate concentrations and body temperature were not affected by treatment (P > 0.28). In conclusion, the administration of isoflurane or meloxicam appeared to reduce the stress response to cautery disbudding, however the combined effects may provide greater relief.


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© American Dairy Science Association®, 2018.


  • English

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Journal title

Journal of Dairy Science




Hempstead, M. N., Waas, J. R., Stewart, M., Dowling, S. K., Cave, V. M., Lowe, G. L., & Sutherland, M. A. (2018). Effect of isoflurane alone or in combination with meloxicam on the behavior and physiology of goat kids following cautery disbudding. Journal of Dairy Science, 101(4), 3193-3204. doi:10.3168/jds.2017-13507


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