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Pain relief for invasive procedures

The use of pain relief is now a necessity for the livestock industry when conducting routine husbandry practices.

Administering pain relief is endorsed as best practice for ensuring the highest standards of animal welfare when there are no viable alternatives to a procedure.

Livestock SA’s policy is the use of pain relief is mandatory for mulesing and recommended for all other invasive procedures such as tail docking, de-horning, and castration.

There are several pain relief products available to livestock producers. It is important that producers know which pain relief product is suitable for each procedure.

Anaesthetics and analgesics target different areas of the pain pathway and can be used individually or together for pain relief in livestock.

  • Anaesthetics stop pain by blocking sensory function in the area where the drug is administered (i.e., numbing the area). Anaesthetics have almost an immediate effect and are useful for during the procedure however, do not provide long lasting pain relief.
  • Analgesics provide relief from pain by reducing the physiological inflammatory pathways in the body which reduce cellular reaction to trauma and triggers of pain. Analgesics provide longer lasting pain relief and enable the healing process.

There are advantages in using these two different pain relief actives at the same time. Using an anaesthetic and an analgesic in combination provides more immediate and greater pain relief for a longer period of time than either product alone.

The Australian Pesticide and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) is responsible for the registration of chemicals for use in livestock.

The following products have been registered for use:

  • Tri-Solfen® (anaesthetic) for pain relief following mulesing, castration, tail docking and disbudding/dehorning
  • NumOcaine (Numnuts®) (anaesthetic) for pain relief during castration and tail docking using a rubber ring
  • Metacam 20® (analgesic) for alleviation of pain and inflammation caused by invasive procedure
  • Buccalgesic® (analgesic) for alleviation of pain and inflammation for castration, tail docking, and disbudding/dehorning.
ProductAnaesthetic or analgesicActiveUseVeterinary Prescription?
Tri-Solfen®AnaestheticLignocaine and bupivacaineSpray onto open wounds after mulesing or tail dockingNo (Schedule 5)
NumOcaine (Numnuts®)AnaestheticLignocaineInjected using Numnuts® castration ring applicatorYes (Schedule 4)
Metacam 20®AnalgesicMeloxicamInjectable 15 minutes prior to procedureYes (Schedule 4)
Buccalgesic®AnalgesicMeloxicam“Drench” administered between the inside of the cheek and molar teeth 15 minutes prior to procedureYes (Schedule 4)

For more information about product dosage, withholding periods and any other detail please consult with the product label or your veterinarian.

Note: advice on this page is only general in nature and advice from a veterinary professional should be sought before the use of any pain relief products.