Products that can be administered at the time of dehorning include local anesthetics, such as lidocaine and bupivicaine.
Coetzee says these are effective against immediate incisional pain (acute pain), but have little or no effect against chronic pain associated with inflammation. Lidocaine only lasts for three to four hours.
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as meloxicam ketoprofen, aspirin and flunixin, are not effective against immediate incisional pain, but are effective against chronic pain associated with inflammation, Coetzee explains.
“Studies show that a well-placed cornual nerve block that is allowed sufficient time to take effect can reduce and sometime eliminate an acute (more than one hour) increase in serum cortisol after dehorning,” he explains.
“Accurate placement of the cornual block requires training,” Coetzee says. “Complications include inadvertent intravenous injection or incorrect placement of the block with respect to the anatomical location of the nerve.”
Producers should be trained by a veterinarian to perform a cornual nerve block.
Geni Wren is editor of Bovine Veterinarian, a sister publication of Dairy Herd Management.