The age of surgical castration affects the healing process in beef calves

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Norring , M , Mintline , E M & Tucker , C B 2017 , ' The age of surgical castration affects the healing process in beef calves ' , Translational animal science , vol. 1 , no. 3 , pp. 358-366 . https://doi.org/10.2527/tas2017.0044

Title: The age of surgical castration affects the healing process in beef calves
Author: Norring, Marianna; Mintline, Erin M.; Tucker, Cassandra B.
Contributor: University of Helsinki, Production Animal Medicine
Date: 2017-08-23
Language: eng
Number of pages: 9
Belongs to series: Translational animal science
ISSN: 2573-2102
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10138/225928
Abstract: Castration is painful for calves. Castrating at an earlier age is often recommended, but little is known about how this affects the healing process or the pain experienced. We compared incision closure, swelling and pain sensitivity of beef calves surgically castrated at 3 (range 0 to 8 d; n = 16) or 73 (range 69 to 80 d; n = 15) d of age. Closure of the incision, as measured with a 5-point scale (1 = fresh wound, 5 = no longer visible), weight gain, and inflammation (skin temperature and swelling, as measured by scrotal circumference) were recorded on d 1, 3, 7, 11, 15, 18, 21, 25, 32, 39, 45, 61, and 77 after the procedure, until all incisions were fully healed. On these same days, pain sensitivity was assessed by applying a known and increasing force with von Frey hairs (0.02 to 300 g-force) at the edge of the castration wound and at a control site, approximately 2 to 5 cm anterior to the teats, until animals showed a behavioral response or the highest force was reached. The incisions of younger calves healed more quickly than older ones [fully healed, median (95% confidence interval); 39 (32 to 61) vs. 61 (61 to 77) d; P = 0.002], however, they had relatively more swelling in the days after castration (P < 0.001). Younger animals reacted to lighter pressure of von Frey hairs compared to older calves especially in the first stages of healing process (P < 0.001), and there were other signs indicative of inflammation processes in this region at this time. However, there was no difference in the control site for either age group. In addition, it took longer for older calves to recover their daily weight gain after the procedure (P < 0.001). Taken together, these results paint a mixed picture about the effects of age of surgical castration. Calves castrated soon after birth experience more tissue swelling and show more signs of pain, but their incisions heal sooner and their weight gain is less affected, when compared to animals castrated around 73 d of age.
Subject: 413 Veterinary science
412 Animal science, dairy science
age
castration
cattle
pain
von Frey
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