Objective—To determine the pharmacokinetic parameters of xylazine, ketamine, and butorphanol (XKB) administered IM and sodium salicylate (SAL) administered PO to calves and to compare drug effects on biomarkers of pain and distress following sham and actual castration and dehorning.
Animals—40 Holstein bull calves from 3 farms.
Procedures—Calves weighing 108 to 235 kg (n = 10 calves/group) received one of the following treatments prior to sham (period 1) and actual (period 2) castration and dehorning: saline (0.9% NaCl) solution IM (placebo); SAL administered PO through drinking water at concentrations from 2.5 to 5 mg/mL from 24 hours prior to period 1 to 48 hours after period 2; butorphanol (0.025 mg/kg), xylazine (0.05 mg/kg), and ketamine (0.1 mg/kg) coadministered IM immediately prior to both periods; and a combination of SAL and XKB (SAL+XKB). Plasma drug concentrations, average daily gain (ADG), chute exit velocity, serum cortisol concentrations, and electrodermal activity were evaluated.
Results—ADG (days 0 to 13) was significantly greater in the SAL and SAL+XKB groups than in the other 2 groups. Calves receiving XKB had reduced chute exit velocity in both periods. Serum cortisol concentrations increased in all groups from period 1 to period 2. However, XKB attenuated the cortisol response for the first hour after castration and dehorning and oral SAL administration reduced the response from 1 to 6 hours. Administration of XKB decreased electrodermal activity scores in both periods.
Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—SAL administered PO through drinking water decreased cortisol concentrations and reduced the decrease in ADG associated with castration and dehorning in calves.