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Do rubber rings coated with lignocaine reduce the pain associated with ring castration of lambs?

By Mairi Stewart, Ngaio J. Beausoleil, Craig B. Johnson, James R. Webster, Karin E. Schütz, Neil Cox, Kevin J. Stafford

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To facilitate the wider use of pain relief on-farm, practical ‘farmer friendly’ methods for administering pain relief are necessary. This proof of concept study evaluated the efficacy of rubber rings coated with local anaesthetic (LA, lignocaine) for providing pain relief in lambs castrated 4 weeks after birth. To eliminate any potential effects of blood sampling on behavioural responses to castration, the study was carried out in two parts, utilising different animals. In the first part of the study, behavioural responses were measured for 60 lambs (n=10 per treatment) randomly allocated to: (1) handling without castration (C), (2) castration with a normal rubber ring (R), (3) castration with a rubber ring coated with LA (RLA), (4) LA injected into the testes and scrotal neck 4min before a normal ring was applied (LADR), (5) LA injected immediately prior to a normal ring being applied (LAIR), and (6) injection of LA without castration (LA). Total time lying and frequencies of pain-related behaviour (abnormal lying, activity, postural changes) were recorded by video during baseline (30min) and 3h post-treatment. In the second part of the study, cortisol responses were measured for 24 lambs (n=8 per treatment) allocated to one of three treatments: C, R or RLA as above. Blood samples were taken via jugular venipuncture at 0, 30, 60, 90 and 120min and analysed for plasma cortisol concentrations. In the first part, total time spent lying (%) was lower (P

Publication Title Applied Animal Behaviour Science
Volume 160
Pages 56-63
ISBN/ISSN 0168-1591
DOI 10.1016/j.applanim.2014.08.007
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Animal welfare
  2. Behavior and behavior mechanisms
  3. Castration
  4. Cortisol
  5. Lambs