Current Projects

Animal Health and Welfare

20-08 Pain control using various dosing regimens of oral meloxicam for band castration in newborn beef calves

Research Lead: Dr. Jessica Gordon , University of Guelph

Executive Summary

Castration is a painful procedure that occurs in nearly every male beef calf's life. Recent increases in concern for animal welfare, particularly from members of the public, have led to an increased interest in pain control for cattle (1). As of 2018, pain control is required at castration for animals over 6 months of age at the time of castration by the beef code of practice (2). What constitutes pain control is not stipulated. Castration shortly after birth is common in Ontario (Ontario Cow Calf Production Survey, 2017) and less than one third of producers use pain control at the time of castration.

This project will examine the effects of multiple regimens of an oral meloxicam product. Calves will be castrated using green rubber bands within one week of birth. Calves will be randomly assigned to one of three treatments, 1)castration without pain control, 2)castration with injectable meloxicam at time of castration, 3)castration with oral meloxicam at time of castration, 4)castration with oral meloxicam at time of castration and five days after castration. Animals will be monitored for pain using blood metabolites, welfare measures (such as lying time and nursing bouts), and weight gain. Animals will be followed intensively for the first week after castration and then weekly until weaning.

This funding request will build on a similar funding request to OMAFRA to increase the data we are able to collect on enrolled animals to gain a deeper understanding of the effectiveness of pain control strategies used for castration.

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