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Langhoff, Rebecca; Auer, Ulrike; Maneng, Julia; Hochgerner, Agnes and Ritzmann, Mathias (2016): Evaluation of CO2 anaesthesia applied by a commercial device for the castration of male suckling piglets under field conditions. In: Berliner und Münchener Tierärztliche Wochenschrift, Vol. 129, No. 7/8: pp. 282-289

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The aim of this study was to describe clinical and behavioural parameters of piglets castrated with the use of CO2 anaesthesia by using the commercial available device MS Pigsleeper. 80 male piglets with three to six days of age were allocated to four groups, and were castrated or left uncastrated either after receiving 70% CO2/30% O-2, or without anaesthesia. Defensive movements and heart rates were measured during induction and castration phase. At castration phase the dewclaw reflex was tested and piglets were monitored for vocalisation. During recovery and the subsequent five minutes conspicuous behaviours were recorded. Intensity of defensive movements was significantly higher in groups with CO2 anaesthesia during induction phase. Defensive movements were significantly lower in groups with CO2, but also not fully absent, during castration phase. Surgical tolerance was only reached by 20% (4/20) of piglets castrated under anaesthesia. Heart rates were above physiological levels at the beginning of induction phase and dropped significantly thereafter. Dropping of heart rates was more pronounced in anaesthetised groups leading to significant differences compared to non-anaesthetised groups. A minimum heart rate of 20 beats per minute was measured. Conspicuous behaviours as spasms, gasping and licking were described for pigs after CO2 anaesthesia. Measured parameters implicated stress and discomfort during induction and recovery phase and severe cardiovascular depression during CO2 anaesthesia. Surgical tolerance was reached by only a small proportion of anaesthetised piglets. Therefore, welfare aspects were not met using CO2 anaesthesia for piglet castration in general and especially by applying the gas anaesthesia with the commercial device MS Pigsleeper.

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