Ongoing attacks by extremist animal rights groups continue to ignore the widespread and increasing use of pain relief products in the Australian livestock industry. Recently PETA founder Ingrid Newkirk grabbed headlines saying she would use her body to draw attention to what she called needless animal suffering and exploitation. The vegan activist said as part of her last will and testament, a slice of her buttock would be sent to Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese or his successor in protest of the practice of mulesing sheep. Other body parts would be sent to other world figures including Donald Trump, Elon Musk, the Prime Minister of India and fashion house Hermes.
Latest figures from Animal Health Australia suggest more than 90 percent of sheep producers that mules their lambs to provide lifetime protection against blowfly strike were now using analgesics and/or anesthetics as part of routine management.This compared to about 60pc of sheep producers identified that were identified as using some form of pain relief in a University of New England survey a decade ago. In the cattle industry it is estimated that between 30 and 40 per cent of calves are also receiving pain relief at marking. Martin Oakes, the manager of cattle operations on the 4850 hectare Old Hidden Vale Station at Grandchester, west of Brisbane, said the use of pain relief was central to his cattle management program.”We’re using Tri-Solfen on the male calves when they are castrated and any animal that was dehorned,” Mr Oakes said. “Animal welfare is really important to us because we care about our animals and we want to do the right thing by them.”
Norco merchandise manager at Lismore, Libby Chalk, said animal welfare meant treating animals in a humane and respectful way, keeping them happy in their environment, adaptable to changes. “As a beef producer myself I always want to make sure my cattle are happy and well looked after, and performing to the best of their ability,” Ms Chalk said. “It’s about the pride you can take in a healthy, well raised animal more so than what it runs across the scales at the saleyards at the end of the day. “I want an animal, a product and a brand that I can be proud of, knowing it was sustainably raised and perfectly sourced.”
Meat and Livestock Australia says there are currently three products on the market that provide pain relief for cattle and sheep. These are the pre-operation local anesthetics NumOcaine and range of meloxicam products including Buccalgesic, Metacam 20 and Apex Meloxicam as well as the post-operative treatment Tri-Solfen. NumOcaine uses the local anaesthetic lignocaine and is marketed with the Numnuts ring application system for sheep.
Tri-Solfen is a topically applied gel that includes lignocaine, bupivacaine, adrenaline and cetrimide and is used on sheep, cattle and other livestock species. Meloxicam products are administered to both sheep and cattle either orally or by injection. “The provision of pain relief with routine husbandry practices is now an expectation,” MLA says. “Not only do producers need to consider the use of pain relief products in their animals, but also alternative husbandry procedures and management practices.”
MLA said the benefit for producers in using pain relief during routine husbandry procedures was not only for their own peace of mind, but also in meeting consumer expectations and protecting the products they produced. “Where producers engage in quality assurance programs that require pain relief, specific financial benefits may also accrue.”