Pain Management in Cattle

By Barry Whitworth, DVM / Area Food/Animal Quality and Health Specialist for Eastern Oklahoma

Pain is not limited to the human experience. Studies show animals experience pain as well. Procedures such as castration and dehorning are painful to cattle. I must admit when I was a veterinary student at Oklahoma State University in the late 1980s, pain control in cattle was not considered important, but times have changed. Animal welfare has become a major issue with consumers (Rollin, 2004). More people are concerned with how their food is produced and how those animals are cared for. Also, studies are beginning to demonstrate pain control has advantages. Veterinarians and cattle producers have to evaluate their current practices for welfare issues. In the past, routine practices such as castration and dehorning were done without anesthesia and/or pain control, but this is no longer viewed as best management practices.

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