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Anaesthesia is mandatory for disbudding and castrating calves and lambs of any age, in Switzerland. According to the "anaesthesia delegation model" (ADM), anaesthesia for disbudding calves <3 weeks of age and castrating calves and lambs <2 weeks of age may be administered by certified farmers. Experience with this unique model is not available. The aim was to evaluate the experience of the veterinary practitioners with the ADM. The response rate was 42%. The survey consisted of one questionnaire for each procedure. Procedure I was the delegation of anaesthesia for disbudding calves and procedures II and III were anaesthesia for castrating calves and lambs.
Procedure I was performed with local anaesthesia in all farms of 51.8% of the veterinary practices, while this was only 39.3% and 7.6% for procedures II and III (p < 0.001). Anaesthesia for procedure I was administered technically correctly by farmers in at least 66% of the farms of 58.3% of the practitioners, while this was 45.4% and only 23.6% for procedures II and III (p < 0.001). The ADM was assessed as a moderate to very good model to reinforce the legal obligations for procedures I, II, or III by 74.8%, 76.5% and 62.0% of the veterinary practitioners (p < 0.005).
The delegation of anaesthesia to certified farmers may be a promising model to reinforce the obligation to provide local anaesthesia for disbudding and castrating calves, but to a lesser extent for castrating lambs.