Evaluation of horn bud wound healing following cautery disbudding of preweaned dairy calves treated with aluminum-based aerosol bandage

K. L. Huebner, A. K. Kunkel, C. S. McConnel, R. J. Callan, R. P. Dinsmore, L. S. Caixeta

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Pain management during and following disbudding procedures has been studied extensively, though few studies have evaluated wound healing following cautery disbudding in dairy calves. The purpose of this study was to observe wound healing following cautery disbudding with or without treatment using a topical aluminum-based aerosol bandage (ALU) in preweaned dairy calves. Dairy calves were disbudded within the first 3 wk of life using a standard cautery disbudding protocol. The ALU treatment was randomly allocated to the right or left horn bud within each animal. The outcomes measured were lesion score (LS) and wound diameter (WD). The LS was evaluated on a scale of 1 to 3, with LS = 1 representing normal healing without a scab or exudate, LS = 2 having the presence of a scab, and LS = 3 showing the presence of wound exudate. Lesion score and WD were evaluated on a weekly basis following dehorning for 3 wk. A total of 209 animals completed the study. No difference was observed in LS between groups during the first 2 wk postdisbudding, but the proportion of LS = 3 on wk 3 postdisbudding was greater for the control group when compared with ALU (17 vs. 8%, respectively). During wk 1 and 2 postdisbudding, the odds of having delayed healing, or a LS ≥2, were similar for both groups. However, the odds tended to be different at wk 3 postdisbudding with control disbudding sites being 1.42 times more likely to have delayed healing than ALU. In wk 3, WD was 1 mm smaller in the treatment group compared with the control, and treatment decreased diameter over time compared with controls. Overall, once abnormal wound healing was observed, the likelihood of having abnormal wound healing the following week was increased. However, treatment with ALU diminished this effect on delayed healing during the follow-up period. Based on these results, the use of ALU improved wound healing following cautery disbudding of preweaned dairy calves.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3922-3929
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Dairy Science
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2017
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 American Dairy Science Association


  • dairy calf
  • disbudding
  • topical aluminum spray
  • wound healing


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