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Development of a self-medication methodology for pain relief in sheep and cattle

As consumer concern for animal welfare is increasing there is growing interest in the use of analgesic agents to control pain associated with invasive husbandry procedures. There are several factors that can limit sheep and cattle producers' use of analgesics, including registration issues that affect access to drugs and ease of administration of analgesic agents. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are attractive candidate drugs for pain relief in sheep and cattle as there is a large literature on their efficacy in these species, they are relatively safe, they are cheap, and they are active when administered by a range of routes including orally. There is potential in providing pain relief through feed, furthermore, if we can teach livestock to self-select and self-administer feed containing analgesics, it can provide us with an insight into animal pain states.

The project "Development of a self-medication methodology for pain relief in sheep and cattle" was part of a PhD project which was conducted by the University of New England student, Danila Marini. Due to feasibility and time constraints the self-medication methodology was not able to be tested on cattle, therefore the report will focus on research conducted with sheep only. It was also identified early on that the original experimental plan to achieve the objectives were not achievable and a revised experimental plan was recommended in 2013.

The experiments conducted for this project identified flunixin meglumine as an effective pain relief for sheep and lambs when administered either as a drench or through feed. A method to teach lambs to self-medicate after undergoing castration and tail-docking was also developed and implemented.

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981.6KB 31/03/2016

This page was last updated on 25/07/2017

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