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Effect of different methods of castration on behaviour and plasma cortisol in calves of three ages

, : Effect of different methods of castration on behaviour and plasma cortisol in calves of three ages. Research in Veterinary Science 56(1): 8-17

Calves of six, 21 and 42 days were either handled (controls) or castrated by Burdizzo, by surgical or by rubber ring techniques and their behaviour and plasma cortisol monitored for three hours after treatment. The rubber ring caused significant increases in active behaviour and abnormal postures for two hours compared with handled or castrated by Burdizzo and surgical techniques, and surgical techniques resulted in a significant increase in abnormal standing, particularly in the first 30 minutes. Abnormal behaviour and posture were recorded less frequently in six-day-old calves. The mean cortisol peaks for six-, 21- and 42-day-old calves were, respectively, 36, 31 and 23 nmol litre-1 in the handled groups; 60, 43 and 48 nmol litre-1 in the rubber ring groups; 77, 50 and 62 nmol litre-1 in the Burdizzo groups; and 106, 63 and 107 nmol litre-1 in the surgical groups. The greatest cortisol response occurred in 42-day-old surgically treated calves and the shortest response after Burdizzo castration. These responses suggest that irrespective of age, all methods of castration studied caused acute pain. Burdizzo castration appeared to produce the least pain, particularly in younger calves.

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Accession: 002355057

PMID: 8146458

DOI: 10.1016/0034-5288(94)90189-9

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