WSU ag senior paper highlights, winter 2023

The different castration techniques in beef calves

By Katie Webb (Advisor: Dr. George Barrington)


Castration in calves is a very important procedure in every beef cattle operation in order to decrease unwanted breeding, increase ease of handling and enhance the quality of meat. There are many methods of castration in calves, including surgical orchiectomy, scrotal shortening, band castration, Burdizzo emasculation, chemical castration and immunological castration, among others. These methods can be combined with analgesia of different variations, ranging from lack thereof to multimodal analgesia to even anesthesia. This paper compared multiple different groups and found no definitive evidence that one technique or analgesic protocol reduces stress in the long term, to an extent that affects overall weight gain, when compared with the others.


There is no definitive evidence found in the writing of this paper that gives clear indication on whether one method of castration causes the least stress, and by extrapolation, pain response, in calves. There has been evidence discussed that leads us to believe that castration in younger calves produces less stress, which is most likely why the recommendations from the American Veterinary Medical Association include early castration. However, the stress response from the many different techniques is difficult to accurately evaluate due to confounding factors including handling stress, time involved, environment, diet, and procedural complications, among others. Based on studies that examine painful behavior, analgesia of some sort should be used, though producer compliance on a large scale may be diminutive until an option arises that is both low-cost, easily accessible, easily administered, and quickly effective. At this time, recommendations cannot be made based on lack of solid evidence to perform one technique over the others, and the decision will ultimately come down to producer or veterinary preference and cost involved.

An overview of the risks and benefits of drinking unpasteurized cow’s milk

By Nikki Christensen (Advisor: Dr. Kerry Rood)


Consumption of unpasteurized, “raw” milk is a very polarized topic throughout the world today. In the United States, public health officials have various regulations in place regarding the sale of raw milk. Specific organizations such as Winston A Price Foundation and the Raw Milk Institute feel there is over-regulation of raw milk by governmental agencies such as the Centers for Disease Control, United States Department of Agriculture, and the Food and Drug Administration. Consumption of raw milk poses a risk of disease transmission when processing, such as pasteurization, is not performed. Pasteurization plays a significant role in disease prevention by ensuring a safe product for consumers. Specifically, through utilizing a combination of heat, time, and pressure to cook the milk and kill harmful pathogens. The community of raw milk consumers and producers is steadily growing around the world due to the belief that pasteurization degrades nutrients naturally found in raw milk. They also believe that with good management and proper handling techniques, safe raw milk is an attainable goal. The extent of this paper reviews risks and benefits of drinking unpasteurized milk and providing educational resources for producers, consumers, and veterinarians to help them achieve their goals for their families, farms and businesses through animal health and ultimately, consumer health and safety.


Raw milk consumption is very controversial in the world today. As discussed, there are pros and cons to either side of the argument. One hundred years ago the masses moved away from the countryside to live in the city. The reverse seems to be happening today. People are actively seeking to be connected to the family farm or create a micro-version of it in their gardens and back yards. The continual unrest in the economy and world food sources will potentially cause many more people to resort back to home-grown food sources. We as veterinarians need to be prepared for this shift. Though, we may not all treat large herds on large-scale operations, we may help a family by treating their one milk cow or a small dairy that provides milk their community.

Farm management recommendations for the producers consist of minimizing cattle contact with wildlife, rodent control, separating dogs, cats, chickens, or other wild birds from milking areas, implementing an on-farm risk analysis management program through the Raw Milk Institute ( Cow management recommendations include Brucella abortus vaccination, Mycobacterium abortus test screening for TB annually, implementing artificial insemination into the breeding program, and housing cows and calves separately. Milk management recommendations consisting of regular bulk tank testing for Coliform bacteria (at least monthly)- < 10 coliforms/ml raw milk, Standard Plate Count (at least monthly) – < 5000 per ml of raw milk, as well as zero tolerance for pathogenic bacteria such as, Salmonella spp., E. coli 0157:H7, Campylobacter spp. and Listeria monocytogens.

A family’s choice to consume raw milk is not without risks and should be a well-educated decision. Veterinarians play a vital role in the health and safety of our clients and consumers. Unpasteurized, raw milk has a very wide variety of avenues for pointed research and reviews. For the purposes of this paper subjects such as intricate details concerning cow nutrition, raw goat milk, cow genetics (breed or beta-casein A2A2), drug withhold times for raw milk, organic labeled milk and colostrum were not discussed in the scope of this paper.

Resources for consumers/producers

Comparison of progesterone based estrus synchronization protocols with differing GnRH and PGF2alpha injections in beef heifers

By Amy Allen (Advisor: Dr. Ram Kasimanickam)


The selection and breeding of replacement beef heifers is vital for continued success of beef cattle operations. This study evaluates three different progesterone-based estrus synchronization protocols and their effect on estrus response rate and artificial insemination pregnancy rate. Protocols used were CIDR-GGPG, CIDR-PGPG and CIDR-GPG on a sample of Angus beef heifers (n = 1197) from five spring calving locations. Results revealed all protocol types at all locations are effective in inducing estrus. Additionally, independent variables of body condition score, reproductive tract score and calm temperament are positively associated with estrus expression rate. These independent variables coincide with factors that contribute to the onset of puberty. From a beef producer standpoint, the utilization of these heifer selection measurement tools is necessary to select reproductively mature heifers. Appropriate replacement heifer selection and implementation of estrus synchronization protocols will ensure higher pregnancy rates, shorter calving seasons, and increased productivity.


All protocol types at all locations demonstrated effectiveness in induction of estrus. Acceptable estrus expression rates and P/AI were observed independent of body condition score, reproductive tract score and temperament. Regarding these findings, beef heifer reproductive management should be prioritized to ensure efficacy of estrus synchronization protocols and continued reproductive efficiency.