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Disbudding and dehorning practices for pre-weaned dairy calves by farmers in Wisconsin

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Title: Disbudding and dehorning practices for pre-weaned dairy calves by farmers in Wisconsin
Author: Saraceni, J.; Van Os, J.; Miltenburg, C.; Nelson, E.; Renaud, D.; Winder, C.; Akins, M.; Olivett, T.; Kohlman, T.; Schlesser, H.; Schley, B.; Stuttgen, S.; Versweyveld, J.
Department: Department of Population Medicine
Abstract: The objective of this study was to understand common dehorning and disbudding practices in Wisconsin to better target extension education programming to encourage adoption of best practices. A survey was distributed in 2019 to dairy farmers and calf raisers, both online and at extension events. Of all Wisconsin respondents (n = 188), producers reported milking a mean of 486 cows and had a mean of 110 heifer calves being fed milk. Respondents could select more than one method of disbudding or dehorning if used on their calves. A total of 126 producers (67%) reported using caustic paste for disbudding, with application most commonly occurring on the day of birth (64; 51%) or between 1 d to 1 wk of age (52; 41%). Hot iron disbudding was reported by 112 producers (60%) and disbudding occurred most commonly at 8 weeks of age or older (39; 35%) followed by between 4 to 8 weeks of age (38; 34%), and between 1 to 4 weeks of age (30; 27%). Of 40 producers reporting surgical amputation methods, 37 (93%) reported disbudding at 8 weeks of age or older. Response rate for the respondents reported using pain control, with 28 (33%) using a combination of medications. When each medication was evaluated individually, 40 respondents reported using a local anesthetic (21%), 65 reported using an NSAID (35%) and 10 reported using a sedative (5%). Response rate for questions regarding changes to pain control was 90% (170/188). Over half of the respondents (96/170) reported their use of pain control medications had changed in the last 10 years, with the most common cited influence of change being their veterinarian (66; 68%), and public perception/consumer demand (28; 29%). Results of this study demonstrate a proportion of surveyed farmers continue to perform disbudding without pain mitigation. These findings suggest a need for targeted extension education programming to encourage the implementation of best practices for pain-control and to motivate farmers to perform disbudding at an earlier age.
Description: Oral Presentation at the 2020 ADSA Annual Meeting (online).
Date: 2020-06
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Related Publications: J. Saraceni, et al. Disbudding and dehorning practices for pre-weaned dairy calves by farmers in Wisconsin.. J. Dairy Sci. 103 (Suppl. 1). p. 86, 224, 2020.

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