The more painful the condition or procedure, the more likely it is that the veterinarian would use NSAIDs. However, this was not always the case for disbudding or castration.
This is concluded from a student project, in which more than 240 cattle practitioners were questioned about their perceptions of pain in cattle, their use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) for a range of 27 different conditions and procedures, and their opinions on acceptable costs for analgesia.
The researchers found that despite being recognised as being as painful as other procedures, calf husbandry procedures such as disbudding or castration were significantly less likely to include the use of analgesics such as NSAIDs in addition to the local anaesthetic that is routinely used.
On the website of The University of Nottingham John Remnant, Clinical Assistant Professor in Farm Animal Health and Production, at the Nottingham Vet School, explains: “Overall, the message of this paper is a positive one – it appears that veterinarians’ awareness of pain in cattle and willingness to use analgesics in general has increased over the last decade. However, whilst this should be commended, the apparent lack of use of appropriate analgesia specifically in calves undergoing routine husbandry procedures such as castration and disbudding requires urgent action.”
The British Veterinary Association (BVA) already highlighted this issue in a statement they released in August. The BVA states: “In the interests of animal welfare, the BCVA and BVA believe that calves should be routinely provided with appropriate analgesia to manage pain associated with disease or necessary veterinary and husbandry procedures. Specifically, we recommend the use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) in addition to local anaesthesia when conducting disbudding and castration in calves”
The project was done by students from The University of Nottingham School of Veterinary Medicine and Science and published in the Vet Record. The full story can be read here.