To date, most assessments of the pain and distress caused by dehorning of calves and castration plus tail docking of lambs have employed changes in plasma cortisol concentrations. Although this approach can aid selection of the most appropriate methods in animal welfare terms, the use of cortisol as the sole physiological index allows conclusions to be drawn only about those features of acute responses to treatment which are reflected in plasma cortisol concentrations. Accordingly, in addition to the well-established cortisol responses to these treatments, that last hours, we now report on adrenaline responses that last minutes, and noradrenaline responses with an intermediate duration are described. Blood pressure, heart rate, adrenocorticotropic hormone and cortisol responses to ring castration plus tail docking of lambs are described, and their relative sensitivity as indices of low-grade pain as the acute responses to treatment wane are considered.

DJ, Mellor, and KJ Stafford

Proceedings of the New Zealand Society of Animal Production, Volume 62, Palmerston North, 351-354, 2002
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