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Effect of Topically Applied Anaesthetic Formulation on the Sensitivity of Scoop Dehorning Wounds in Calves.

Abstract

The post-operative effects of three formulations of topical anaesthetic and a cornual nerve block on the sensitivity of scoop dehorning wounds in calves were compared in two trials. In Trial 1, 21 female Holstein dairy calves aged 8 to 24 weeks were randomly allocated to two groups: (1) scoop dehorning with a post-operative application of a novel topical anaesthetic powder (DTAP, n = 10); and (2) scoop dehorning with a post-operative application of a novel topical anaesthetic ethanol liquid (DTAE, n = 11). In Trial 2, 18 castrated male and 18 female Hereford beef calves aged 16 to 20 weeks were randomly allocated to four groups: (1) scoop dehorning with a pre-operative cornual nerve block of lignocaine (DCB, n = 9); (2) scoop dehorning with a post-operative application of the novel topical anaesthetic ethanol liquid from Trial 1 (DTAE, n = 9); (3) scoop dehorning with a post-operative application of a topical anaesthetic gel (DTAG, n = 9); and (4) sham dehorning (CON, n = 9). Sensitivity was assessed by scoring the behavioural response of calves to stimulation of the wound or skin at time points before and after treatment. In Trial 1, DTAP calves had a greater probability of displaying more severe responses than DTAE calves at 90 and 180 min (P < 0.001). In Trial 2, at 1 h, DTAG calves had a greater probability of displaying more severe responses than CON calves. At 2 h onwards, all dehorned calves had a greater probability of displaying more severe responses than CON calves (P < 0.001). There were no differences between the responses of DCB, DTAG and DTAE calves at any time point. Topical anaesthetic formulations result in almost immediate but temporary anaesthesia of the wound following scoop dehorning in calves and may provide a practical option for pain relief on-farm.

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