Dehorning

Dehorning calves is a necessary practice that should be conducted as early as possible and with appropriate anesthetic/analgesia. With the possible exception of caustic paste, calves perceive and Metacam Calves Had Lower Pain Sensitivityreact to acute pain during dehorning, regardless of method, when no local anesthetic is used. Extensive research has shown that dehorning stimulates both an acute pain response and a delayed inflammatory reaction. These effects have been measured through physiological, behavioural and pain sensitivity responses. The best method to fully address pain management for dehorning should include both a local cornual nerve block and systemic analgesia, like Metacam.

University of Guelph researchers studied the impact of treatment with Metacam following cautery dehorning in calves, and found that calves treated with Metacam 20 mg/mL Solution for Injection just before dehorning were compared to calves treated with placebo, the Metacam calves:


  • Had significantly lower heart and respiratory rates in the 24 hours after dehorning
  • Had significantly lower concentrations of the stress hormone cortisol in the six hours following dehorning
  • Had significantly less pain sensitivity at the horn buds after dehorning
  • Exhibited significantly less pain behaviour in the 44 hours following dehorning
  • Rested for significantly longer, and tended to eat more, in the 44 hours following dehorning.6

A single treatment with Metacam just before dehorning made calves more comfortable, and kept them eating when combined with a cornual nerve block. The relief provided by Metacam lasted into the day after dehorning.

References:
6. Heinrich A, Duffield TF, Lissemore KD, et al. The impact of meloxicam on post-surgical stress associated with cautery dehorning. J Dairy Sci 2009;92(2):540–547.