Cautery Disbudding Iron Application Time and Brain Injury in Goat Kids: A Pilot Study

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Hempstead, Melissa
Shearer, Jan
Sutherland, Mhairi
Fowler, Jennifer
Smith, Joseph
Lindquist, Taylor
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Plummer, Paul
Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Studies
Smith, Jodi
Associate Professor
Smith, Joe
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Biomedical Sciences

The Department of Biomedical Sciences aims to provide knowledge of anatomy and physiology in order to understand the mechanisms and treatment of animal diseases. Additionally, it seeks to teach the understanding of drug-action for rational drug-therapy, as well as toxicology, pharmacodynamics, and clinical drug administration.

The Department of Biomedical Sciences was formed in 1999 as a merger of the Department of Veterinary Anatomy and the Department of Veterinary Physiology and Pharmacology.

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  • College of Veterinary Medicine (parent college)
  • Department of Veterinary Anatomy (predecessor, 1997)
  • Department of Veterinary Physiology and Pharmacology (predecessor, 1997)

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Veterinary Pathology
The Department of Veterinary Pathology Labs provides high quality diagnostic service to veterinarians in Iowa and throughout the Midwest. Packages may be delivered through the postage service or by dropping samples off at our lab in Iowa State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine campus.
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Veterinary Clinical Sciences
The mission of the Veterinary Clinical Sciences Department and the Veterinary Medical Center is to be strong academically, to provide outstanding services, and to conduct research in the multiple areas of Veterinary Clinical Sciences. Our goals are to teach students in the multiple disciplines of Veterinary Clinical Sciences, to provide excellent veterinary services to clients, and to generate and disseminate new knowledge in the areas of Veterinary Clinical Sciences. Our objectives are to provide a curriculum in the various aspects of Veterinary Clinical Sciences which ensures students acquire the skills and knowledge to be successful in their chosen careers. We also strive to maintain a caseload of sufficient size and diversity which insures a broad clinical experience for students, residents, and faculty. In addition, we aim to provide clinical veterinary services of the highest standards to animal owners and to referring veterinarians. And finally, we strive to provide an environment and opportunities which foster and encourage the generation and dissemination of new knowledge in many of the disciplines of Veterinary Clinical Sciences.
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Veterinary Diagnostic and Production Animal Medicine
The mission of VDPAM is to educate current and future food animal veterinarians, population medicine scientists and stakeholders by increasing our understanding of issues that impact the health, productivity and well-being of food and fiber producing animals; developing innovative solutions for animal health and food safety; and providing the highest quality, most comprehensive clinical practice and diagnostic services. Our department is made up of highly trained specialists who span a wide range of veterinary disciplines and species interests. We have faculty of all ranks with expertise in diagnostics, medicine, surgery, pathology, microbiology, epidemiology, public health, and production medicine. Most have earned certification from specialty boards. Dozens of additional scientists and laboratory technicians support the research and service components of our department.
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Cautery disbudding is a painful procedure performed on goat kids to prevent horn growth that may result in brain injury. Thermal damage to the cerebral cortex of the brain and subsequent neurologic disease is a primary concern. Cautery iron application time may affect transmission of heat to the brain; however, research in this area is scarce. Therefore, the objective of this pilot study was to evaluate the effect of iron application time on brain injury of goat kids. A total of six buck and doe kids <9 days of age were obtained from a commercial dairy and transported to an Iowa State University research facility. Kids received a different randomly assigned application time (5, 10, 15, or 20s) on each horn bud. Kids were disbudded using an electric cautery iron (under isoflurane general anesthesia). After a 5-day observation period, the kids were euthanized, and magnetic resonance (MR) images were acquired to evaluate brain injury. Additionally, four of the six kids were presented for gross examination and two kids were selected for histopathologic examination. From the MR images, white matter edema was observed subjacent to four treated areas, representing application times of 5 s (one horn bud), 15 s (one horn bud), and 20 s (two horn buds). With the exception of the horn bud that received 5 s, which had white matter edema restricted to a single gyrus, the remaining three groups had a branching region of edema. No bone abnormalities were identified on any kids. Gross evidence of discoloration and hemorrhage on the cerebral hemispheres was observed on two horn buds that received 20 s, two horn buds that received 15 s, and one horn bud that received 10 s. Microscopic lesions consisting of leptomeningeal and cerebrocortical necrosis were observed in sections of brain from all groups. Lesions were most severe with 20 s. In conclusion, all application times used in this study resulted in some level of brain injury; however, using 15 s or more resulted in more severe and consistent brain injury. These results indicate that extended iron application time may increase the risk of brain injury in cautery disbudded kids.


This article is published as Hempstead, Melissa N., Jan K. Shearer, Mhairi A. Sutherland, Jennifer L. Fowler, Joseph S. Smith, Jodi D. Smith, Taylor M. Lindquist, and Paul J. Plummer. "Cautery disbudding iron application time and brain injury in goat kids: a pilot study." Frontiers in Veterinary Science 7 (2021): 1192. DOI: 10.3389/fvets.2020.568750. Posted with permission.

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Fri Jan 01 00:00:00 UTC 2021