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