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Veterinarians developing model to help producers, vets make cattle more comfortable
Date:2/17/2009

Using equipment not all that different from what a runner might take on a jog, veterinary researchers at Kansas State University are working to make life more comfortable for cattle.

A jogger's heart rate monitor and an instrument similar to a pedometer are a few of the tools K-State researchers are using to measure discomfort in cattle undergoing two routine procedures, castration and dehorning.

Hans Coetzee, assistant professor of clinical sciences, is working with David Anderson, professor of clinical sciences, and Brad White, assistant professor of clinical sciences. They are developing a model that can evaluate pain management drugs for cattle. Although producers and veterinarians sometimes use aspirin and other anti-inflammatory drugs, there are no pharmaceuticals approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration specifically for pain management in cattle. It is also unknown what doses are appropriate and how well they work.

"Producers and veterinarians want to effectively treat and prevent pain in livestock, but because these drugs don't have approval from the Food and Drug Administration for cattle they are limited in what they can do," Coetzee said. "Our goal is to give producers the means to address consumers' concerns about the welfare of farm animals."

The researchers received a $325,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to develop a model to assess pain in cattle. Coetzee said ultimately this model will help the FDA evaluate drugs for cattle by knowing how well they work and to recommend proper dosing.

"Managing pain is an inherently good idea, but it is critical to put science behind it because cattle can not communicate their pain," Coetzee said.

The researchers are basing their model on two common practices, dehorning and castration. The frequency of these practices makes them useful to study. More important, Coetzee said these are routine livestock management procedures that th
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Contact: Hans Coetzee
jcoetzee@vet.k-state.edu
785-532-6354
Kansas State University
Source:Eurekalert  

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