The Fourth edition of the “Guide for the Care and Use of Agricultural Animals in Research and Teaching,” published by the American Dairy Science Association®, American society of Animal Science and Poultry Science Association, is now available on line.

Scientists at a large number of universities contributed to the revisions of the Third edition, resulting in the current version.

For those unfamiliar with the “Ag Guide,” guidance is provided in the following chapters:

Chapter 1: Institutional Policies

Chapter 2: Agricultural Animal Health Care

Chapter 3: Husbandry, Housing, and Biosecurity

Chapter 4: Environmental Enrichment

Chapter 5: Animal Handling and Transport

Chapter 6: Beef Cattle

Chapter 7: Dairy Cattle

Chapter 8: Horses

Chapter 9: Swine

Chapter 10: Domestic Sheep and Goats

Chapter 11: Meat-Type Poultry

Chapter 12: Egg-Type Poultry

Chapter 13: Waterfowl

The species-specific chapters include guidance for:  Facilities and Environment, Feed and Water, Husbandry, Standard Agricultural Practices, Environmental Enrichment, Handling and Transport, Special Considerations, and Slaughter and Euthanasia.

Current guidance for Beef cattle castration is that “[c]astration is least stressful when performed at or shortly after birth . . . [-] [a]n increasing body of still-limited literature indicates that it is best to castrate calves as young as possible.”  Ag Guide at p. 85.  Similarly, if not working with naturally polled cattle, disbudding is the preferred method, which must be performed before the formation of horn buds.

The Canadian Veterinary Medical Association recommends that disbudding be performed within the first month of life (CVMA, 2016). In the United Kingdom, disbudding with a hot iron is preferred to dehorning and it is advised that this should be performed before cattle reach the age of 2 mo.

Id.  Similar guidance is provided for procedures performed on other agricultural species.  As appropriate, the Ag Guide differentiates between animals raised for food and fiber production and those raised and used in animal research.