May 24, 2018

Interpretive Summary: Effect of Single Dose of Meloxicam Prior to Band or Knife Castration in 1-wk-old Beef Calves: I. Acute Pain

Interpretive Summary: Effect of single dose of meloxicam prior to band or knife castration in 1-wk-old beef calves: I. Acute pain

By: Megan LaFollette

calfIn April 2018, Journal of Animal Science published an article that investigated the effect of a single dose of meloxicam prior to castration on acute pain in 1-week old beef calves. In Western Canada, half of calves are castrated before 1 week of age to help improve this painful process. Cattle are castrated to improve meeting quality, reduce aggression, and prevent reproduction. Unfortunately, castration is a painful and known to have negative effects on growth, behavior, and physiology. Injectable meloxicam is a possible practical anti-inflammatory drug that has been reported to mitigate painful husbandry procedures. However, injectable meloxicam has not yet been assessed for castration in 1-week-old calves. This study’s objective was to assess acute pain after meloxicam administration prior to two different castration methods.

In this study, 72 bull calves were tested to investigate their response to 3 castration methods (control/sham, band, or knife) and 2 medications (lactated ringers or meloxicam). This meant there were 6 treatment groups: sham-ringers, band-ringers, knife-ringers, sham-meloxicam, band-meloxicam, and knife-meloxicam. Treatment groups were equally distributed within each pen of 12 calves. Meloxicam was given at a dosage of 0.5 mg/kg bodyweight. Calves were castrated between 7 to 8 days of age by the same veterinarian. Calves were assessed for physiology and behavior before, during, and within the 7 days after castration.

Meloxicam administration (ringers or meloxicam) and castration method (sham, band, or knife) impacted some measures of calf physiology and behavior. Calves administered meloxicam had lower substance P concentration, white blood cell count, and tail flicks than calves administered ringers. However, administering meloxicam did not effect any other physiological (e.g. cortisol, haptoglobin, serum amyloid-A, bodyweight) or behavioral parameters. Calves castrated with a knife had increased serum amyloid-A, scrotal temperature, visual discomfort, vocalizations, tail flicks, and lateral lying.

Overall, this study suggests that injectable meloxicam may be beneficial for reducing some measures of acute pain when castrating 1-week-old calves. Additionally, knife castration appears to more painful than band castration in the first week. However, both castration methods negatively impacted calf physiology and behavior.

To view the full article, "Effect of single dose of meloxicam prior to band or knife castration in 1-wk-old beef calves: I. Acute pain,' visit the Journal of Animal Science