Veterinary researchers at Iowa State University have devised a novel means of delivering pain medication to pigs through the milk of the mother sow during nursing.
It’s a proof-of-concept study that may help pork producers reduce the stress and pain experienced by pigs that have been castrated without the need to inject each individually with pain relief medication.
Results of the year-long study, published in the academic journal PLOS ONE, indicate that pigs that receive the pain medication through the milk of a medicated sow experience less stress following castration and tail docking than piglets nursed on sows that didn’t receive the medication.
The announcement comes midway between 2012 European mandate requiring pain mitigation during castration and an outright ban on physical castration by 2018. Meanwhile, the European Commission will convene a meeting Feb. 26 in Brussels in the wake of multiple scientific studies on alternatives to surgical castration.
The Iowa State report also is timely stateside, where a novel technology – immunocastration – has been gaining ground as an alternative to conventional physical castration.
The largest company in the animal protein industry – Tyson Foods Inc. – shook up the industry in January 2014 when it announced it would urge its hog suppliers to implement a series of production practices that it deems representative of responsible food production – including the use of pain mitigation for castration.
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