Schnaider, M. A., Heidemann, M. S., Pescatori Silva, A. H. et al. 2022. Vocalization and other behaviors indicating pain in beef calves during the ear tagging procedure. Journal of Veterinary Behavior 47, 93-98.

Vocalization and other behavior signals are used as tools to assess animal welfare in beef calves. This paper aimed to compare vocal parameters and behavior signals expressed by beef calves submitted either to ear tagging procedure for identification (Effective Tagging - ET) or to a human touch on the ears (Simulated Tagging - ST), considering calf sex and age. A total of 52, 30 male and 22 female, 91.3 ± 28.1 d-old taurine beef calves participated in the study, in Santa Catarina, Southern Brazil. Calves were randomly divided into two treatments (ET and ST) and recorded for 1 minute after the beginning of the stimulus for both ET and ST situations, as this was the total time animals were restrained. We analysed the immediate vocal and behavioral responses to the procedure, following regular handling procedures used on the farm. Vocal data was further analysed using specific audacity software and behavioral signs were counted. More animals in the ET treatment vocalized during the trial (14 and 5 calves, respectively), with a higher average number of vocal calls (1.7 and 0.3 calls/animal), as well as of head movements (7.8 and 4.0 movements), tail flapping (56.1 and 29.8) and leg movements (28.4 and 16.4). Male vocalizations were longer than female (2.07 and 1.61 s), with higher fundamental frequency (249.6 and 178.6 Hz). Additionally, older calves vocalized with higher fundamental frequency (241.0 and 212.8 Hz) and showed more head movements (6.5 and 5.3 occurrences) than younger ones. The results suggest that the vocalization characteristics associated with other behavior signals may be used as tools to assess pain in beef calves during invasive procedures such as identification handling.

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