by Dr. Chelsea Stewart

In recent years the topic of pain management in animal agriculture has been a mainstay of discussion. Pain management is not just for surgical procedures anymore, research is continually finding diseases that benefit from pain management. Lameness, respiratory disease and calving are just some events that could potentially benefit from pain management.

A lidocaine injection is usually the first thought for pain mitigation. A local nerve block can be done for procedures like castration and dehorning, and though it may take a couple of minutes to kick in before the procedure can be performed, the benefits are often visible and measurable. Animals are easier to handle when pain is minimized, which can prevent unnecessary injuries to both handler and animal. Animal that receive pain management also return to the bunk sooner and gain better in the following days.

A relatively new tool in our pain medication toolbox is meloxicam. It’s a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory that comes in tablets and is administered orally. It stays in the system and works longer than other anti-inflammatories, such as Banamine®. Meloxicam is not expensive, it costs around $0.27 per cwt. It’s not instant pain relief like a lidocaine injection but it lasts longer to minimize the pain after the procedure. Using both lidocaine with longer lasting pain management is also an option.

Soon enough pain management will be a mainstay of animal agriculture and it’s time to utilize the tools we have and reap the benefits as well. It’s not as hard as we think and the benefits are there.

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