Sunday, October 13, 2019
    

Completed Research

Ontario Pork has a call for research proposals twice a year (fall and spring). These projects were approved for funding by the board on recommendation of the research committee. If you have questions or need further information about the research posted here please contact Kathy Zurbrigg at kathy.zurbrigg@ontariopork.on.ca


Completed Research

Evaluation of analgesia efficacy in piglets undergoing castration and processing through the scoring of pain related behaviours

Evaluation of analgesia efficacy in piglets undergoing castration and processing through the scoring of pain related behaviours

Project 14-006 - Researcher: Dr. Pat Turner

Researcher: Dr. Pat Turner
Project funded in 2014 and completed in 2017. 
FINAL REPORT

Facial behaviours such as ear position, are increasingly being used to assess pain in animals, including rodents, horses, and lambs. The development of a facial behaviour scale could lead to an easy and quick way to help producers to determine subtle cases when an animal is in pain and needs treatment. Before these types of assessments can be used as a standalone measure of pain, it is important they can be associated with other pain behaviours that piglets display such as trembling, licking and stiffness or inactivity.  Researchers at the University of Guelph evaluated the ability of three different kinds of pain relievers to reduce the pain felt by piglets at processing as measured by facial and other behaviours. 

Meloxicam, ketoprofren, topical anesthetics, and opiates were tested for their ability to reduce pain felt by piglets after tail docking and castration on 19 piglets in this preliminary study.  Piglets were video recorded for 1 hour at 24 hours prior to and post processing as well as continuously for 8 hours from the time of processing.  Behaviours were scored once an hour by two observers who did not know what treatment the piglets had received.  Facial behaviours were scored from still photos taken from the video footage.  

Piglet behaviours were categorized into “active” (walking, playing, nosing) and “inactive” behaviours (sleeping, laying) and were found to be correlated to pain scores as judged by facial behaviours.  A high proportion of activity in pigs was associated with a low proportion of pigs showing pain through their facial behaviours and vice versa.  Piglets showed the highest proportion of pain behaviours 3-4 hours post processing with these behaviours returning to the pre-processing levels approximately 7 hours after processing.  The opiate, Buprenorphine was the most effective medication for reducing pain related behaviours after processing, however it is a controlled drug (each dose must be strictly regulated by the veterinarian) that could not be left on the farm and is not currently licensed for use in food-producing animals.  Due to the small sample size of this study, further work involving a greater number of piglets would need to be completed before these results can be considered for practical use by producers.

Further reading: www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fvets.2017.00051/full



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