Hempstead, M. N., Waas, J. R., Stewart, M. et al. 2017. Behavioural response of dairy goat kids to cautery disbudding. Applied Animal Behaviour Science 194, 42-47.

Behavioural changes associated with cautery disbudding of female Saanen dairy goat kids were assessed. At 4±2days of age, kids were randomly assigned to one of two treatment groups: (i) disbudded with a cautery iron (CAUT, n=5) and (ii) sham handled and not disbudded (SHAM, n=5). Animals were video recorded 12h pre- and post-treatment in the home pen. One trained observer recorded the frequency of 11 behaviours: allogrooming, body shaking, ear biting, feeding, head butting, head rubbing, head scratching, head shaking, jumping, running and self-grooming. In addition, total lying duration and number of lying bouts were measured using accelerometers. The mean post-treatment frequencies (corrected for the frequencies pre-treatment) were compared between treatment groups. CAUT and SHAM kids performed the same behaviours before and after treatment, however the frequency of certain behaviours changed in response to disbudding. Behaviours (mean±SEM) that were significantly different between CAUT and SHAM kids were: head shaking (31.2±3.11 vs. 17.5±1.79; P=0.03), head scratching (15.8±5.90 vs. 2.2±1.11; P=0.04), head rubbing (4.2±0.77 vs. 0.8±0.27; P=0.02) and body shaking (6.1±0.36 vs. 8.8±0.49; P=0.02). Self-grooming was performed at much higher frequencies in CAUT than SHAM kids, however due to a large variation between individuals, this was not significantly different between treatments. There was no evidence of a difference in lying duration or number of lying bouts between treatments (P≥0.75). Allogrooming, ear biting, feeding, head butting, jumping, running, and self-grooming did not vary significantly across treatments (P≥0.06). Changes in the frequency of head shaking, head scratching, head rubbing and body shaking may reflect pain associated with cautery disbudding in goat kids and could be used to assess pain mitigation strategies in future studies.

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