Painful husbandry procedures are routinely performed on farms in New Zealand for various reasons. Tail docking is routinely carried out on sheep to prevent flystrike and on pigs to prevent tail biting. In some countries this procedure is still performed on dairy cows to improve udder hygiene and worker comfort. Castration is commonly performed on lambs and calves to reduce aggressive and sexual behaviours, prevent unwanted breeding, and modify carcass characteristics. Dehorning is performed on cattle to reduce the risk of injury to stock people and other animals and antler removal in deer is carried out for commercial reasons. All of these procedures cause behavioural and physiological changes indicative of pain, but are commonly performed without pain relief on farms. This review will cover the rationale and the behavioural and physiological responses caused by these common husbandry procedures. Possible methods of pain relief or alternative strategies to these procedures will then be discussed as well as the implications for New Zealand and where future research needs to be focussed.
Proceedings of the New Zealand Society of Animal Production, Volume 71, Invercargill, 189-194, 2011
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