GCAW Pig Welfare Working Group Update

Pig Welfare

The GCAW Pig Welfare Working Group was pleased to welcome Dr Abbie Viscardi, Assistant Professor at Kansas State University to its meeting on 3 April 2024.

Dr Viscardi provided a comprehensive overview of the use of and options for pain relief during routine mutilations in piglets, including castration, tail docking, teeth clipping and ear notching.

She highlighted how the regulation and application of pain relief varies considerably from region to region. For example, in Canada, 100% of piglets are provided with pain relief in line with a 2016 Code of Practice, whereas in the US, there is no requirement to provide any pain relief.

There are, however, multiple challenges to progress on this issue that apply universally. These include: difficulties in recognising pain in piglets and therefore proving the benefits of recommended drugs; a lack of standardised protocols to assess pain mitigation strategies; and practical issues to administering pain relief on-farm. Moving forward will require deeper research into alternative processes (such as immunocastration and enrichment that could remove the need for surgical intervention in the first place) and creating a recognised standard on which to evaluate the effectiveness of drugs and other options.

Dr Nathan Williams, GCAW Secretariat, said, “On behalf of GCAW members I would like to thank Dr Viscardi for her time and for sharing her expertise on this important topic. A key reflection for me was the need to learn from experiences with other species; for example, how the use of pain relief for the disbudding of calves, now common practice, has resulted in positive benefits for both animals and handlers. Undoubtedly, greater collaboration and stakeholder engagement will help overcome barriers to progress, and I anticipate GCAW playing a key role in this.”

Related Posts