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2022 May 12

J Dairy Sci

Effect of plane of nutrition and analgesic drug treatment on wound healing and pain following cautery disbudding in preweaning dairy calves.


Reedman CN, Duffield TF, Devries TJ, Lissemore KD, Adcock SJJ, Tucker CB, Parsons SD, Winder CB
J Dairy Sci. 2022 May 12.
PMID: 35570043.


The objective of this study was to determine the effect of a biologically normal plane of nutrition compared with a limited plane on the primary outcome wound healing, and one dose of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) compared with 2 on the secondary outcomes: lying behavior, haptoglobin concentrations, and mechanical nociceptive threshold (MNT) in calves disbudded via cautery iron. Eighty female Holstein calves were enrolled at birth, individually housed, and fed via a Calf Rail system (Förster Technik). A 2 × 2 factorial design was used to assess the effect of plane of nutrition and an additional NSAID. Calves were randomly assigned to a biologically normal plane of nutrition (BN; offered up to 15 L/d) or a limited plane (LP; offered up to 6 L/d) and to receive one or 2 doses of meloxicam. All calves received a lidocaine cornual nerve block and a subcutaneous injection of meloxicam 15 min before cautery disbudding at 18 to 25 d of age, and half the calves received an additional injection of meloxicam (0.5 mg/kg) 3 d after disbudding. Tissue type present, wound diameter, and wound depth were evaluated 2 times per week for 7 to 8 wk as measures of wound healing, lying behavior was recorded beginning 1 to 2 wk before disbudding until 7 to 8 wk after as a behavioral indicator of pain, haptoglobin concentrations were measured once per day for 7 d after disbudding, and MNT was evaluated 2 times/wk for 3 wk. Survival analyses were analyzed using Cox regression models (wound healing) and continuous data were analyzed using mixed-effect linear regression models. Only 12% of horn buds were completely healed by 7 to 8 wk after disbudding and 54% had re-epithelized at this time. At any time, wounds from BN calves were more likely to have had re-epithelization occur compared with wounds from LP calves (hazard ratio: 1.93, 95% CI: 1.18-3.14). Wounds from calves that received only one dose of NSAID were more likely to have re-epithelization occur, compared with wounds from calves given 2 doses (hazard ratio: 1.87, 95% CI: 1.15-3.05). Wounds from BN calves had smaller diameters and depths over time beginning on wk 3 compared with LP calves. Wounds from calves that received an additional NSAID had larger diameters and depths over time beginning on wk 4 and 3 respectively, compared with calves that only received one dose of NSAID. Calves that received an extra NSAID tended to be less sensitive 7, 10, and 17 d after disbudding compared with calves that only received one dose and spent less time lying in the week after disbudding. Calves on the BN milk program were more active compared with LP calves with lower lying times, fewer lying bouts per day, and longer average lying bouts. Our results indicate that a BN milk feeding program for calves can result in faster healing times and more activity, and that providing an extra NSAID 3 d after disbudding appears to slow the healing process but may result in less pain experienced by the calf 1 to 2 wk after the procedure. This study is also among the first to demonstrate that after the complete removal of the horn bud, wounds can take more than 8 weeks to re-epithelize and fully heal.