26 September 2023

Pain relief trial for farm animals ‘effective’

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The Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) is evaluating the second year of a research trial on the effectiveness of pain relief treatments aimed at improving animal welfare.

The trial is part of collaboration between the DPIRD and the Northern Territory Government’s Department of Industry, Tourism and Trade.

The DPIRD’s Northern Beef Development team is leading the trial, which is comparing the practical application of pain relief products to identify the most appropriate strategy and recommended industry best practice.

Development Officer at the Department, Sarah Gwynne said the second year of the trial was replicating the first to verify the preliminary findings, with initial data highlighting the important role pain relief played in best-practice animal welfare standards.

“The preliminary trial results indicate the use of commercially-available pain relief products is effective in improving animal welfare outcomes, supporting producers’ endeavours to satisfy consumer expectations,” Ms Gwynne (pictured) said.

“Producers’ feedback has been that animals seem more settled after a pain relief product has been applied.”

She said initial data showed movements like head scratching and self-grooming were reduced in animals administered with one or more pain relief treatments, while positive behaviour, such as ruminating and feeding, were heightened in the animals.

“Accelerometers — small devices fitted to ear-tags — are being used to capture the standing and sitting behaviour of the animals, while GPS devices are recording where an animal has traversed, Ms Gwynne said.

“These devices, along with the use of GoPro cameras, will help to confirm anecdotal evidence that animals feed soon after being processed, which suggests they were comfortable enough to eat.”

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