15 July 2021
Take the pain out of disbudding this season
15 July 2021
Calf disbudding is an essential farm practice. However, as the process involves burning skin and underlying horn tissue, it is painful and causes inflammation to the calf. As with all procedures, our aim is to achieve the optimal outcome for your business and for the health and wellbeing of your animals.
Compelling research shows that calves provided with a combination of sedation, local anaesthesia, and an anti-inflammatory injection are less affected by disbudding compared with calves given only local anaesthesia. As a legal requirement we no longer disbud calves without providing ‘local’ pain relief.
If you’ve ever had a painful procedure under local anaesthesia (e.g. dentistry work) you will relate to the severe pain when the local wears off an hour or two after administration. Behavioural and stress studies in calves report that they experience this same intense pain within a couple of hours of disbudding. Adding longer-term pain relief into the calf disbudding program mitigates this pain and stress response, it also allows the calf to continue ‘normal’ calf behaviours throughout the day of disbudding. This includes a more rapid return to feeding, with some studies showing higher milk intakes and growth rates following disbudding in appropriately treated calves.
We recommend the use of the full ‘gold-standard’ calf disbudding service to improve the well-being, health and welfare of your replacement heifers so this year we are adding longer acting pain relief for peace of mind and happier calves.