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Qualitative behavioural assessment of Bos indicus cattle following surgical castration

Vindevoghel, Thinza (2017) Qualitative behavioural assessment of Bos indicus cattle following surgical castration. Masters by Research thesis, Murdoch University.

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Surgical castration of cattle is common however providing analgesia in the Australian cattle industry is rare. The aims of this study were to: 1) describe the behaviour of cattle postcastration using quantitative and qualitative methodology and 2) determine the effectiveness of analgesia for surgical castration. Forty-eight Bos indicus (Brahman) calves were divided into six groups (n = 8): 1) castrated without analgesia (C), 2) non-castrated (NC), 3) castrated with Meloxicam pre-castration (CMpre), 4) castrated with Meloxicam post-castration (CMpost), 5) castrated with Lignocaine (CLA) and 6) castrated with Lignocaine and Meloxicam postcastration (CLMpost). Cattle were filmed in the paddock and feeder yard on days -1 to 13, and were assessed in the crush at surgery and as they exited the crush. Video footage was shown to volunteered observers using Qualitative Behavioural Assessment (QBA). In addition, quantitative behaviour scoring by one observer was conducted. There was good interobserver reliability for the behavioural expression of cattle. Results showed significant Treatment groups x Day interaction effects (P < 0.05) for the paddock and feeder yard context. Correlations between qualitative and quantitative measures of behaviour were also identified.

The behavioural responses of cattle varied; in Generalised Procrustes Analysis 1 (GPA 1), cattle in castrated (C) group in the feeder yard were described as relatively more ‘agitated’ and ‘anxious’ on day-1 and more ‘calm’ and ‘relaxed’ on day +1. Some of the behaviour was unexpected regarding the treatment; however, the behaviour can be explained by factors such as the environment or the innate characteristics of livestock. This study demonstrated that Bos indicus bulls are likely to benefit from the administration of analgesia at castration, however we recommend the importance of careful interpretation of behaviour when assessing the effects of analgesia.

Publication Type: Thesis (Masters by Research)
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Veterinary and Life Sciences
Supervisor: Collins, Teresa and Fleming, Trish
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