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Research: unsedated piglet castration is useful

The use of local anaesthetics for male piglets prior to castration does help to alleviate the pain for the piglets.

The Dutch newspaper Agrarisch Dablad reports today that this was concluded by researchers from Wageningen University and Research Centre's Animal Sciences Group, the Netherlands, after having studied the pros and cons around anaesthetised castration.

It is even better, the scientists concluded, to combine anaesthetics with a painkiller injection to reduce post-surgery pain.

Costs
Costs for this extra work were calculated for the Dutch case. Should local anaesthetics be applied by a vet, then castration costs rise with approximately €1 per male piglet. In case producers can do it themselves, costs would only reduce to €0.28.

The researchers also checked the option of general anaesthetics using CO2. It was noted, however, that disadvantages of this process include very narrow safety margins and risks for piglet deaths through excessive CO2 concentrations.

Research
Basically, the researchers tested five different castration methods and subsequently they checked the animals' reactions like screaming, skin temperature and certain blood levels.

When using anaesthetics, the piglets squealed less and their blood levels proved to be better.

The research, however, also showed that the animals that were anaesthesised did have more post-surgery pains. This disadvantage could be taken away by giving painkillers.

Please also read this week's blog by David Burch: 'Piglet castration with anaesthesia'

Related websites:
• Animal Sciences Group (ASG)
• Wageningen University and Sciences Group (WUR)
• Agrarisch Dagblad

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