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Farmers’ administration of local anaesthetics prior to piglet castration – a practical gap of knowledge?

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Surgical castration is a routine practice known to be painful for piglets. Local anaesthetics have been proposed as a tool to alleviate the acute pain induced by the procedure, and are now mandatory prior to castration in some European countries, including Denmark. However, current guidelines are broadly formulated, leading to heterogeneity in the practical administration of the drugs. Recently, Danish authorities have allowed farmers and their employees to administer the local anaesthetic themselves after a brief training. Thereby, the
case of piglet castration differs from other mutilating practices such as disbudding of dairy calves, where only veterinarians are allowed to administer the anaesthetic drugs. To date, almost all studies of the use of local anaesthesia for piglet castration have involved veterinarians or skilled technicians under laboratory-like experimental conditions, hence potentially leaving a gap between the efficacy of anaesthetics reported in the literature and the ability of the
drugs to relieve piglet pain when administered in practice. In order to document the efficacy of anaesthesia as administered by farmers, a field trial including 597 piglets was conducted. Piglets were assigned to 8 treatment combinations with 4 different time intervals between administration of local anaesthetic and castration and 2 methods of injection. The design also included 2 control groups with piglets castrated without anaesthesia or sham-castrated. Welfare impact of each procedure was evaluated based on a multimodal approach including
physiological, vocal, behavioural and affect indicators. Measurements included saliva cortisol concentrations, vocalization structure, and resistance movements during administration of the local anaesthetic and castration. The results are intended to create a foundation for the justification and refinement of the legislation regarding the administration of local anaesthetics by farmers prior to castration, while providing further insights into the methodology of recording piglets’ pain response to aversive procedures. Methods and preliminary results will be presented.
TitelProceedings of the 8th International conference of on the assessment of animal welfare at farm and group level
RedaktørerLaura Boyle, Keelin O'Driscoll
Antal sider1
ForlagWageningen Academic Publishers
Udgivelsesåraug. 2021
ISBN (Elektronisk)978-90-8686-901-5
StatusUdgivet - aug. 2021
Begivenhed8th International conference on the assessment of animal welfare at farm and group level - Online
Varighed: 16 aug. 202119 aug. 2021
Konferencens nummer: 8


Konference8th International conference on the assessment of animal welfare at farm and group level

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