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Food, fibre and pharmaceuticals from animals
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Mechanical nociceptive threshold testing in Bos indicus bull calves

Gabrielle C. Musk A C , Michael Laurence A , Teresa Collins A , Jonathan Tuke B and Timothy H. Hyndman A
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A School of Veterinary and Life Sciences, Murdoch University, 90 South Street, Murdoch, WA 6150, Australia.

B School of Mathematical Sciences, University of Adelaide, North Terrace, Adelaide, SA 5005, Australia.

C Corresponding author. Email: g.musk@murdoch.edu.au

Animal Production Science 57(3) 576-582 https://doi.org/10.1071/AN15441
Submitted: 11 August 2015  Accepted: 6 December 2015   Published: 20 April 2016

Abstract

The aim of this prospective, controlled, randomised trial was to develop a technique for mechanical nociceptive threshold testing (NTT) to assess pain in Bos indicus bull calves undergoing surgical castration. Analgesia was provided by 0.5 mg/kg subcutaneous (SC) meloxicam (M) and/or 2 mg/kg of intra-testicular and SC (at the surgery sites) lidocaine (L). Forty-eight Brahman bull calves at 6–8 months of age were divided into six study groups, each with eight animals: no surgery control; surgical castration (C) without analgesia; C and Mpre-op; C and Mpost-op; C, L and Mpost-op; C and L. Mechanical NTT was performed the day before surgery (Day –1) and on Days 1, 2, 6, 10 and 13 after surgery. A handheld manual pneumatic device with a 1-mm (diameter) blunt pin was used to deliver a mechanical stimulus to a maximum of 27 Newtons either side of the most dorsal aspect of the sacrum. The most frequent responses to the mechanical stimulus were lifting or kicking of the leg on the same side as the stimulus (31%) and stepping away from the stimulus (24.9%). Data were analysed with a mixed effect linear model with the nociceptive threshold (NT) as the response variable and day and analgesic treatment as predictors (P < 0.05 was considered significant). For all groups, there was a trend towards decreasing NT over the study period but there were no significant differences between groups. Step down model selection with day, batch and treatment terms revealed a significant effect of day (P < 0.001) and batch (P = 0.007). Mechanical NTT for assessment of pain in Bos indicus bull calves requires further refinement to determine if this is a useful method of pain assessment.

Additional keywords: cattle, castration, pain assessment.


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