This study assessed the effects of suckled sucrose and parenteral carprofen treatment on behavioural measurements of discomfort and serum haptoglobin concentration in lambs following rubber ring castration and/or tail docking. Twenty-eight male and 20 ewe lambs were allocated to either a male or ewe lamb control group (n=4) or to one of three male and two ewe lamb treatment groups (n=8). Male lambs in one treatment group received carprofen subcutaneously (0.5 mg/kg) 30 minutes before castration and docking. Lambs in all other treatment groups suckled sucrose or colostrum immediately before castration and/or tail docking. Behavioural measurements of discomfort were made following castration or tail docking in treatment groups and also in control animals which were not castrated or tail docked. Blood sampling of animals in treatment groups for analysis of serum haptoglobin, an acute phase protein used as an indicator of an acute inflammatory response, was performed before castration or docking and at 24 and 48 hours after castration or docking. Control lambs were blood sampled at 0, 24 and 48 hours following behavioural assessment. Neither suckled sucrose nor carprofen treatment altered discomfort behaviour associated with castration or tail docking. Haptoglobin levels following castration or tail docking remained close to the detection limits of the assay and were similar to those recorded in control animals.
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