Pain control for castration and tail docking - Ontario Pork - Completed Research
Sunday, May 26, 2024

Completed Research

Ontario Pork has a call for research proposals once a year. 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 Jessica Fox at [email protected]

Completed Research

Pain control for castration and tail docking

Pain control for castration and tail docking

Project 11-217 - Researcher: Bob Friendship

Projected start:2011  project completed: 2013

Researcher: Bob Friendship, University of Guelph

Graduate student: Ryan Tenbergen, MSc. University of Guelph.

In anticipation of requirements to provide pain control to piglets at processing (update: required as of 2016 under the Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Pigs, v2014) researchers at the University of Guelph evaluated different types of pain relief.  The researchers divided a group of 2888 male and female piglets into two groups. The treatment group received 0.4 mg/kg of meloxicam (Metacam) injected into the muscle approximately 30 minutes before processing, and a group that received a placebo (saline injection). The results showed that piglets who received meloxicam (Metacam) showed less pain behavior (eg.isolation, trembling, tail jam, changed gait) and were less stressed (decreased cortisol levels) after processing, suggesting that their pain was reduced. While meloxicam (Metacam) didn’t have any overall effect on piglet growth (ADG) or mortality, piglets on older sows (over parity 5) given this pain reliever had a reduced chance of dying compared to those given placebo. Similar results were achieved when a different analgesic (3mg/kg ketoprofen) (Anafen) was injected into male piglets 30 minutes before processing. In a third trial, the researchers provided piglets with an injection of meloxicam (Metacam) 30 minutes prior to processing, as well as an injection of lidocaine (a local anesthetic) into the testicles to freeze the spermatic cord, three minutes prior to processing. This combination reduced piglet pain for up to 24 hours after processing (based on behaviour measures), however the lidocaine injection itself did appear to cause discomfort. Overall this researcher suggests that providing pain relief at processing is effective and inexpensive, however providing local freezing is less ideal due to increased labour costs from added handling and the discomfort caused at the injection site.

Additional Resources

Final Report

Poster from the 2013 American Association of Swine Veterinarians annual conference

2014 March/April edition of the Journal of Swine Health and Production

2014 Canadian Veterinary Journal Article-

Full Thesis-Ryan Tenbergen-

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