Pig farming

Pain relief is important for pig health, welfare and productivity

Most farmers are quite robust characters; they have to be in order to survive the modern day pressures and stresses of farming. The physical nature of the job also means most farmers will have a dodgy back, or a sore hip, or a tender knee.

But how many of you take anti-inflammatories to ease your aches and pains? Most famers I know are of the “Just get on with it” mentality.

I think this is why most stockmen will identify a pig which is in need of treatment; they may inject an antimicrobial if they are concerned about a bacterial infection, they may place the pig in a designated hospital pen, monitor and care for it, but it would not occur to most stockmen to also administer pain relief.

Pain relief is important economically!

Obviously an important element of this is welfare: it’s one of the five freedoms to be free from pain and distress.

However giving pain relief is also economically beneficial. A pig which is free from pain will mobilise, eat and drink, aiding its own recovery and allowing it to keep on growing. So pain relief can actually improve survival from injury, reducing mortality, and reducing its impact on growth and production.

There are several products licensed for pain relief in pigs. A couple are injectable, one is a syrup which is administered orally (it tastes like honey so they eat it happily) and another is one which can be dissolved in the water to be given to larger groups of pigs.

The water soluble paracetamol is good for several situations: if you have an outbreak of a systemic viral disease such as flu or PRRS then paracetamol administration can improve feed intakes and reduce duration of illness as the paracetamol helps with fever, it might also be used if you have high levels of lameness such as Mycoplasmal arthritis (link to blog on mycoplasma lameness).

Lame pigs particularly benefit from pain relief, often they are well in themselves but are reluctant to get up to go and eat. If you ease their pain then they will go to the feeder and keep on eating. Some studies have also shown that use of pain relief around farrowing can lead to a smoother farrowing process, as I’m sure any lady readers might empathise with!

So why not add a bottle of pain relief to your next order at the vets? I think your pigs would thank you for it.

For further information please contact Zoetis UK Limited, Walton Oaks, Dorking Road, Tadworth, Surrey KT20 7NS. www.zoetis.co.uk Customer Support: 0845 300 8034. Use medicines responsibly (www.noah.co.uk/responsible). Date of preparation: February 2018. AH103/18