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A first description of the physiological and behavioural responses to disbudding in goat kids

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In order to determine the stress response to disbudding, physiological and behavioural response was investigated in disbudded kids and compared with a control group. Disbudded kids (n = 14), were disbudded by thermal cauterisation, and control kids (n = 15) received the same management without being disbudded. Cortisol was measured at −20, −10 and 0 min (pre-treatment), 0, 10, 20 and 30 min as well as 1, 2, 3 and 4 h from disbudding. Frequency and intensity of the behavioural response (kicks, vocalisations) were also recorded during disbudding. Cortisol was higher in disbudded than in control kids during the first 2 h after disbudding. The cortisol area under the curve was 235% higher in disbudded compared to control animals (828 [± 67.4] and 350 [± 65] nmol L−1, respectively). Disbudded kids showed high intensity behaviours in a greater number of animals (100%) and with a greater frequency than controls. These results indicate the presence of acute stress and a potentially painful experience. In conclusion, disbudding in goat kids induces an acute cortisol increase, which lasts for a duration of 2–3 h and a significant behavioural response. This clearly suggests the necessity of using anaesthesia/analgesia to avoid pain and stress.


Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: February 1, 2010

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