Pain relief options for lamb marking

Mark CorriganPRODUCTION ADVICE - AUGUST 2020 - ANIMAL BIOSECURITY & WELFARE

By Mark Corrigan
District Veterinarian

P: 02 6051 2208 | M: 0428 256 431 | mark.corrigan@lls.nsw.gov.au

Pain relief products for lamb-marking and mulesingWith spring lambing in full swing, now is a good time to consider what pain relief to use at lamb marking. As there is now a new product, ‘Numnuts’, on the market, it’s worthwhile reviewing all the options available to you.

The first on the scene was a topical gel, ‘Tri-Solfen’. Tri-Solfen can be applied to mulesing, surgical castration and surgical tail-docking wounds, and contains a mix of a local anaesthetic (to numb pain at the site), a disinfectant and adrenalin (to help reduce blood loss). Since its introduction in 2012, many producers have taken it up and incorporated Tri-Solfen use as a standard part of the mulesing process. This product is also registered for use in calves following castration, disbudding and dehorning. It can be bought over the counter at your local farm supplier.

The next two products introduced were systemic pain relief products containing the anti-inflammatory drug meloxicam. ‘Metacam 20’ is an injection, while the other ‘Buccalgesic’ is an oral gel (administered in the space between the molar teeth and the inside of the cheek).

Just like a Nurofen tablet in humans, livestock anti-inflammatories reduce pain and inflammation throughout the body. Several trials have demonstrated that by managing pain and inflammation in animals, we are supporting a better, quicker recovery and a return to normal behaviours faster than those that don’t that receive effective pain relief. These products are registered for use in sheep and cattle and can only be purchased from a veterinarian.

The newest product on the block is 'Numnuts'. It is a ring applicator that applies a standard rubber ring while injecting a local anaesthetic ‘NumOcaine’ to provide targeted pain relief to the site of ring placement. It can be used for castration and tail docking of lambs. An applicator for castrating calves is still in development. NumOcaine needs to be purchased from your eterinarian.

Best-practice lamb marking would be to give both a systemic anti-inflammatory and local anaesthetic. However, you need to consider how that additional step, for example giving meloxicam, would fit into your lamb-marking process. The benefits of pain relief, in addition to the quicker recovery time, is likely to extend to consumer demand and welfare requirements. In Victoria, since 1 July 2020, it is a legal requirement to provide pain relief to sheep undergoing mulesing.

At the end of the day, if you can reduce the level of pain experienced by an individual animal you are providing the best care for your animals.

For information give us a call or talk to your private vet.

Summary of available products

Buccalgesic®

Metacam 20

Tri- Solfen

NumOcaine

Type of Drug

Anti-inflammatory

Anti-inflammatory

Local Anaesthetic

Local Anaesthetic

Docking/ Castration

Yes

Yes

Knife only

Ring Only

Dehorning/disbudding
calves

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

Mulesing

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

Time to effect

From 15 minutes

From 15 minutes

<1 minute

<1 minute

Duration

Approximately 3 days

Approximately 3 days

Pain relief for at least 24
hours (label)

2hrs +

Application method

Oral

Injection

Spray Application

Injection

Vet Prescription

Yes

Yes

No

Yes

Meat WHP Sheep

10 days

11 days

90 days

0 days

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