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Revised AVMA Policy on Castrating and Dehorning Cattle Provides Additional Guidance for Managing Pain

SCHAUMBURG, Ill., May 12 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) has revised its policy on castration and dehorning of cattle to provide veterinarians with additional guidance for managing pain associated with these procedures. The revised policy, approved on April 12, 2008, does not dictate that practitioners use any particular method of pain management or drug. Instead it provides some basic recommendations for consideration by practitioners when they work with producers to achieve the goal of pain management.

Revisions made to the policy are the result of a comprehensive review of recent science that has provided more information about identifying and ameliorating pain experienced by cattle during castration and dehorning.

"Individual practitioners are encouraged to achieve pain management, when possible, using their education, experience and judgment," says Dr. Gail Golab, director of the AVMA Animal Welfare Division. "Administration of appropriate medications is one potential strategy; however, effective pain control does not always require the use of medications. It is also possible to mitigate pain by selecting a better technique or by applying a technique at a more appropriate age."

According to Dr. James Reynolds, a member of the AVMA Animal Welfare Committee and a bovine practitioner, the revised policy specifically respects the ability of veterinarians to determine the best way to mitigate pain in their patients on a case-by-case basis.

"The AVMA is not trying to dictate medical procedures, but it is the role of the AVMA to advise veterinarians on contemporary research," explains Dr. Reynolds. "With respect to dehorning and castration, current research supports this revised policy."

Dr. Reynolds reiterated that the revised policy does not suggest that pain medications must be used. For example, disbudding cattle within the first few weeks of life reduces pain compared with removing horns that have fused to the skull.

The full policy may be accessed on the AVMA Website ( at Backgrounders on castration and dehorning have been compiled by the AVMA Animal Welfare Division and are available at

The AVMA and its more than 78,000 member veterinarians are engaged in a wide

variety of activities dedicated to advancing the science and art of animal,

human and public health. Visit the AVMA Web site at for
more information.

SOURCE American Veterinary Medical Association
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