The pain in nonhuman animals

Although it is difficult to identify and measure pain in nonhuman animals (Anil, et. al., 2005), most veterinary specialists are unanimous about the idea that they experience pain (Flecknell, 2000). The pain in animals is a significant welfare issue, and the most obvious causes of it include injury, diseases, and veterinary procedures, including dehorning or castration (Stafford & Mellor, 2005). The latter should be paid particular attention as it is the most widespread livestock management practice in the USA (Coetzee, 2011) and other countries. The objective of this paper is to explore how pain associated with castration of cattle can be measured and alleviated; and analyze the methods of pain relief. Furthermore, the paper reviews the most common opinions of pain alleviation and presents some thoughts on pain alleviation in cattle management.

Castration of male calves assumes physical, chemical, or hormonal damage to the testicles (Coetzee, 2011). It is believed that this veterinary procedure has the number of advantages, including a reduction in aggression and mounting behavior of males (Coetzee, 2011); it also prevents the reproduction of physically and genetically inferior individuals (Stafford & Mellor, 2005). Besides, the meat of steers is supposed to be of higher quality compared to bulls (Coetzee, 2011).

Despite its apparent benefits, castration is one of the most hotly disputed veterinary procedures as it is associated with pain in animals. The recognition of this fact at the state level is an important precondition for the introduction of efficient cattle management. For example, in the United Kingdom, the Act of 1954 states that “…it is an offense to castrate calves that have reached two months of age without the use of anesthetic. Furthermore, the use of rubber ring or other device to restrict the flow of blood to the scrotum is only permitted without an anesthetic if the device is applied during the first week of life” (in Wren, 2007).

Though the majority of national and foreign specialists recognize that castration causes pain in cattle, there is still no unanimous idea about how it can be assessed. Most veterinaries agree that there are many similarities between perception of pain in human and in animals (Morton & Griffiths, 1985). In fact, the majority of pain management strategies were first tested on animals (Anil, et. al., 2005). Obviously, the main difference between the perception of pain in humans and in animals is that the latter cannot communicate their feelings (Flecknell, 2000). Thus, they cannot self-report of pain, which is considered to be the “gold standard” in pain management (NRC, 2009). This difference challenges the definition of a painful veterinary procedure and the selection of appropriate pain assessment techniques.

According to the definition provided in the Animal Welfare Act, a painful veterinary procedure is the one that is supposed to cause slight and momentary pain in a human being (AWIC Bulletin, 2000). However, this definition lacks clarity and is subjective. The research study conducted by Huxley & Whay (2006) proves this idea. During their research study, the scientists surveyed the UK …
Posted by: Viviana Hampton

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