New research published in the June Journal of Dairy Science looked at the effects of a single injection of meloxicam on calf behavior, pain sensitivity, and feed and water intakes following dehorning.

Sixty Holstein heifer calves were blocked by age and randomly assigned to receive an intramuscular injection of meloxicam (0.5 milligrams per kilogram) or a placebo. All calves were given a lidocaine cornual nerve block (5 milliliters per horn). Treatments and nerve blocks were administered 10 minutes before cautery dehorning.

Behavior was monitored using video recordings during five one-hour intervals. Daily activity was also monitored using an accelerometer.

A pain sensitivity test was administered and feed and water intakes were recorded daily. To establish baseline values, calves were sham-dehorned 24 hours prior to actual dehorning.

Meloxicam-treated calves displayed less ear flicking during the 44 hours following dehorning and less head shaking during the first 9 hours following dehorning. Meloxicam-treated calves were less active than controls during the first 5 hours following dehorning and displayed less sensitivity to pressure 4 hours after dehorning.

These changes in behavior suggest that meloxicam was effective for reducing post-surgical pain and distress associated with calf dehorning.

Read the abstract.

Source: Journal of Dairy Science