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Remote chemical immobilisation method for free-ranging Australian cattle

Hampton, J.O., Skroblin, A., Perry, A.L. and De Ridder, T.R. (2016) Remote chemical immobilisation method for free-ranging Australian cattle. Australian Veterinary Journal, 94 (12). pp. 438-444.

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Background: Many situations are encountered in Australia where the capture and restraint of free-ranging cattle (Bos taurus/Bos indicus) is required. Chemical immobilisation via darting is a potentially useful tool for managing and researching large wild herbivores; however, there is no reliable method for its application to Australian cattle. The aim of this study was to develop an efficacious, humane, cost-effective ground darting method for free-ranging cattle. Methods: The 30 female cattle were darted and captured on a pastoral station in north-west Australia from a vehicle. Xylazine (0.59 mg/kg) and ketamine (3.59 mg/kg) were used to capture animals and yohimbine (0.10 mg/kg) was used as an antagonist to xylazine to reduce recumbent time. Results: Cattle became recumbent at a mean time of 8 min and a mean distance of 260 m from darting. The mortality rate was zero on the day of capture and 7% at 14 days post-capture. Conclusions: The majority of darted cattle were successfully immobilised with one dart and recovered within 30 min, with consumables costing approximately A$30 per captured animal. The technique developed represents a rapid and humane method for capturing free-ranging cattle and, with consideration for legislation surrounding use of veterinary chemicals, could be applied in many contexts across Australia.

Item Type: Journal Article
Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell
Copyright: © 2016 Australian Veterinary Association
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