A single dose of ketoprofen in the immediate postpartum period has the potential to improve dairy calf welfare in the first 48 h of life

Gladden, N., Ellis, K., Martin, J., Viora, L. and McKeegan, D. (2019) A single dose of ketoprofen in the immediate postpartum period has the potential to improve dairy calf welfare in the first 48 h of life. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 212, pp. 19-29. (doi: 10.1016/j.applanim.2019.01.007)

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The welfare impact of birth on newborn calves has rarely been studied. Dystocia in particular may have significant welfare costs for calves. While analgesia is sometimes provided to calves born to difficult parturition by veterinary surgeons in practice, it is not known if this is actually beneficial. On a commercial dairy farm, we examined the behavioural time budget of 39 Holstein heifer calves born with the aid of farmer assistance and 36 calves born without assistance; half of each group were randomly allocated to receive either a single dose of the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug ketoprofen or a saline placebo in a two by two factorial design. The calves were group housed and their behaviour was recorded for 48 h postpartum and analysed using instantaneous focal sampling (every 5 min in alternate hours). Regardless of analgesic treatment, calves born with assistance showed behaviours consistent with experiencing a less positive welfare state (lying with their head down and in lateral recumbency, and less time playing than unassisted calves). Behavioural differences between calves treated with ketoprofen and calves treated with saline (in particular increased play) suggest that the birth experience may be painful for all calves, even if no assistance is required. Our findings suggest that a single dose of ketoprofen in the immediate postpartum period may improve calf welfare regardless of assistance status and has the potential to contribute to significant welfare gains in dairy calves.

Item Type:Articles
Additional Information:Funding and product was provided by Merial Animal Health (now a part of Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health). Additional funding was provided by the University of Glasgow James Herriot Fund and the James Houston Crawford Endowment Fund.
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:McKeegan, Dr Dorothy and Viora, Dr Lorenzo and Gladden, Ms Nicola and Ellis, Dr Kathryn
Authors: Gladden, N., Ellis, K., Martin, J., Viora, L., and McKeegan, D.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Biodiversity, One Health & Veterinary Medicine
Journal Name:Applied Animal Behaviour Science
ISSN (Online):1872-9045
Published Online:18 January 2019
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2019 Elsevier B.V.
First Published:First published in Applied Animal Behaviour Science 212: 19-29
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the publisher copyright policy

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