Pain treatment

The use of pain relief on-farm relies on farmers and vets recognising pain, or perceiving that certain conditions can be painful and would benefit from treatment with an NSAID.

Studies have shown that using a long-acting NSAID after dehorning is beneficial to calf wellbeing; treated calves exhibit signs of discomfort for a shorter period of time and gain more weight in the 10 days following dehorning than calves not receiving an NSAID1.

Similarly, in cases of scour and pneumonia recovery is faster when NSAID treatment is given alongside other therapies, because it makes the animal feel better more quickly1.

Indicators of pain checklist:
  • Decreased movement/locomotion

  • Decreased interaction with other animals in the group

  • Decrease feed intake

  • Changed behaviour related to the source of pain
    (ear twitching, flank watching, etc)

  • Slow to respond to stimuli

  • Change in posture (standing motionless, drooping ears)

  • Easily measurable physical factors (heart rate, pupil size, trembling)

  • Tooth grinding

  • Poor coat condition

  1. 1 Heinrich et al. (2010) The effect of meloxicam on behavior and pain sensitivity of dairy calves following cautery dehorning with a local anesthetic. J. Dairy Scl. 93:2450-2457