VET Cross Gin Gin veterinarian Andrew Marland says he is extremely impressed, but not overly surprised by the uptake of pain relief in the cattle industry.
“I think at the end of the day every producer is trying to do the best they can for their animals,” Dr Marland said.
“Branding, dehorning and castration are all necessary animal husbandry practices but that does not mean producers enjoy putting their calves through these procedures. But it’s really only now that we have effective pain relief in forms that can be administered in the reality of working cattle yards.”
The two products leading the way are the Bayer manufactured Tri-Solfen and the Boehringer product Metacam.
Dr Marland said while Tri-Solfen was costed at about $1.90/animal and Metacam at $3.50-$4 depending on the weight of an animal, price did not seem to be the issue with most producers.
Branding, dehorning and castration are all necessary animal husbandry practices but that does not mean producers enjoy putting their calves through these procedures.
Mr Marland said based on the feedback from a series of on-farm biosecurity plan workshops, he went ahead with four animal welfare workshops involving about 100 producers.
“We talked about what was practical, what was available and what could be achieved,” Dr Marland said.
“The noticeable thing was that pain relief in the cattle industry was recognised as being one of the really extremely important issues.
“Producers just don’t like seeing their animals in discomfort.”
Dr Marland said the literature suggested calves undergoing typical animal husbandry procedures were losing up to 650 grams a day for 10 days in body weight, compared to calves that receive pain relief.
“That’s a very significant 6.5kg that’s being lost,” he said. “It’s great to know the treated calves are not receiving the same setback in an economic sense, but the real driver for producers using pain relief is that they are genuinely committed to the welfare of their animals.”
Tri-Solfen is remarkable in that it provides instant pain relief and stops bleeding. The blue gel contains two topical local anaesthetics - fast-acting lignocaine and long-acting bupivacaine. Adrenaline is also included to reduce the shock and stress of blood loss. Tri-Solfen also contains the antiseptic cetrimide to provide protection from bacterial contamination.
Dr Marland described the injectable anti-inflammatory Metacam as being like a Panadol for cattle that lasted three days.