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Res Vet Sci. 1998 Mar-Apr;64(2):147-50.

Effects of regional analgesia and/or a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory analgesic on the acute cortisol response to dehorning in calves.

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Faculty of Veterinary Science, Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand.


The effect of using a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory analgesic (ketoprofen) on the plasma cortisol response in calves dehorned with or without regional analgesia was determined. One hundred calves divided into 10 groups, four control and six dehorned, were used. Blood samples were taken before and after dehorning and plasma cortisol concentrations were measured. Dehorning caused a marked rise in plasma cortisol concentrations which returned to pretreatment levels after seven hours. The animals given ketoprofen before dehorning had a cortisol response similar to the dehorned animals for the first 1.3 hours after dehorning but then the plasma cortisol concentration returned to pretreatment levels. When animals were given a regional analgesic and ketoprofen the plasma cortisol concentrations were similar to control animals which had not been dehorned, with a small increase in plasma cortisol concentrations for the first hour after dehorning and then a rapid return to pretreatment values. This response was significantly lower than that seen in calves which received only regional analgesia. The results of this study suggest that a systemic analgesic should be combined with regional analgesia if the distress associated with dehorning is to be abolished.

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