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Ruminant Livestock


Selected 2012 Research:


Investigating Rubber Mats on Concrete Slats in Deep Pit Confinement Buildings for Finishing Cattle PDF

Lamesness and Welfare (Veterinary Extension Program Highlights 2012) PDF


Dehorning Analgesia:


According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), disbudding and dehorning of cattle in the U.S. is not regulated, but the organization recommends that dehorning be done at the earliest age practical, and that local anesthetic be considered as they are known to reduce pain and stress associated with such procedures.

Hot iron disbudding is the most common means be preventing horn growth by destroying horn tissue via heat cauterization. Calves are usually disbudded between ages 2 to 6 weeks, but the earlier the better. Horn removal reduces injury risks to humans and animals that have contact with said animal.

It is currently an industry standard to use lidocaine injections in the lateral canthus to block the cornual nerve, which provides innervation (pain sensation) to the horn and associated areas on the calves’ heads. Preliminary research done at Iowa State University College of Veterinary Medicine, by Katy Tapper, M.S., determined that ethanol could also be used for nerve blocking in these dehorning procedures. Her and colleagues’ work determined that ethanol provided extended anesthetic relief over several days, significantly longer pain blocking as compared to lidocaine blocks. Using pressure algometry as an objective means to measure pain in calves, via tolerated pressure, it was shown that ethanol anesthetized calves withstood elevated pressure thresholds relative to the lidocaine control calves for three days following the disbudding procedure. This indicated higher pain tolerance for the duration of the trial.

During the summer of 2012, Liza Hendricks, a third year veterinary student here at Iowa State University College of Veterinary Medicine, investigated the usage of denatured ethanol for dehorning procedures. Her project, titration of ethanol doses and denaturing agents to provide analgesia during dehorning of calves, utilized four different denatured ethanol treatments for use as an analgesic. The best treatment, one that not only blocks pain the longest, with the least side effects, but also most cost effective, will then be used in varying dosages, to determine the least amount of compound needed to provide analgesia. Her project is currently underway at the ISU Dairy Farm.


Selected 2011 Research:


Lameness and Welfare (Veterinary Extension Program Highlights 2011) PDF