BackgroundCertified Swiss farmers are allowed to disbud their goat kids using a standard intramuscularly administered anaesthetic mixture. This mixture, containing xylazine and ketamine, is officially distributed with the goal to provide a painless disbudding. This study aimed to evaluate the quality of analgesia and anaesthesia achieved during disbudding, when performed by Swiss farmers. To assess this, 174 goat kids at 31 different farms were observed and filmed during cautery disbudding.
ResultsThe standard anaesthetic mixture (0.05 mg/kg xylazine and 20 mg/kg ketamine) was used only in 71 goat kids. Fifty-eight goat kids were anaesthetised with different dosages of xylazine (median 0.18 mg/kg) and ketamine (median 10 mg/kg), 22 with xylazine only (median 0.61 mg/kg), 20 with xylazine (median 1.84 mg/kg) and perineural lidocaine (median 1.23 mg/kg), three with acepromazine (dosage unknown) and ketamine (10 mg/kg). Based on vocalisation, limb movement and head lifting during disbudding, a general reaction score was attributed to 168 goat kids (six were excluded due to firm restraint): 56.5% were scored zero (no limb movement, no vocalisation), 7.7% one, 17.3% two and 18.5% three (strong movements, vocalisation). Significant risk factors for higher reaction scores were the type of anaesthetic protocol and manipulation by the farmer during induction. Significant risk factors for longer recoveries were use of xylazine alone or xylazine in combination with perineural lidocaine, breed, younger age and recovery underneath heat lamp.
ConclusionsThe present study indicates that anaesthesia and analgesia of goat kids disbudded by Swiss farmers is inadequate, as 35.8% of the animals showed moderate to strong behavioural reactions during the procedure. Unexpectedly, only 40.8% of the goat kids were anaesthetised with the standard anaesthetic mixture and several other protocols were used. A refinement of the recommended protocol is urgently needed to guarantee animal welfare.