Mills, P. C., Ghodasara, P., Satake, N. et al. 2020. A novel transdermal ketoprofen formulation provides effective analgesia to calves undergoing amputation dehorning. Animals 10(12), 2442.
There is a critical need to ensure that all cattle undergoing surgical husbandry procedures are provided effective pain relief. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are most commonly used, and typically are administered by intramuscular (IM) injection. However, administration of NSAIDs via this route to large numbers of cattle which are handled only once or twice a year, typical of many rangeland beef production systems, presents significant occupational health and safety and mis-administration risks. To address this, a novel transdermal (TD) formulation of ketoprofen was developed, and its efficacy assessed in a study of 36 Holstein–Friesian calves which were assigned to a placebo (n = 10), a TD ketoprofen (n = 10), an IM ketoprofen (n = 10) and sham dehorned group (n = 6). TD ketoprofen significantly reduced plasma cortisol concentrations between 1 to 4 h after dehorning compared to placebo treated calves, with concentrations at 2 and 4 h being very similar to those for sham dehorned calves. The expected log count of positively associated pain variables (ear flick, tail wag, ruminating, head shake, lying down, grooming and neck extending) in the TD group was reduced by 42%, compared to placebo calves, with an overall significant (p < 0.05) treatment effect. The IM group exhibited similar responses and both TD and IM cattle had a higher BW gain at 2 and 5 (p < 0.05) weeks post-dehorning, compared to placebo. This study has shown that TD administered ketoprofen was at least as effective as IM to control pain associated with dehorning and facilitates the administration of analgesic drugs prior to the surgical husbandry procedures being performed.