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, 75 (8), 2064-72

Behavior of Cattle During Hot-Iron and Freeze Branding and the Effects on Subsequent Handling Ease

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Behavior of Cattle During Hot-Iron and Freeze Branding and the Effects on Subsequent Handling Ease

K S Schwartzkopf-Genswein et al. J Anim Sci.

Abstract

Three hundred feedlot steers (320 +/- 2 kg) were assigned to freeze brand, hot-iron brand, and sham branding treatments according to a randomized branding arrangement. Behaviors believed to be indicative of pain (i.e., tail-flicking, kicking, falling, and vocalizing) were recorded during branding. Escape behavior, measured as the amount and duration of force exerted on the headgate and squeeze chute by the animals during treatment, was obtained using load cells and strain gauges. Subsequent handling ease following branding was tested every 2nd d for 10 d by recording the time and effort required to move animals into the chute. Hot-iron-branded steers had greater tail-flick, kick, fall and vocalization frequencies than freeze-branded or sham-branded animals (P < .005). However, freeze-branded animals differed from shams only in regard to tail-flick frequencies (P < .005). The average and maximum exertion forces and the duration of force were greater in hot-iron-than in freeze- and sham-branded steers (P < .001); freeze branded steers had greater values than shams (P < .001). No treatment differences in handling ease were observed. However, all steers required more handling effort for up to 6 d, indicating that handling, per se, was aversive. Results indicate that hot-iron-branded steers experienced more discomfort at the time of branding than freeze-branded and sham steers, and freeze-branded steers experienced more discomfort than shams.

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