Editor's Note: The following article was originally featured in our May issue of PorkNetwork. Click here to read more articles.
Now more than ever, producers need to take a serious look at sow pain management strategies. While pain management in itself is nothing new, public perception and concern has quickly become a driving force for change. In the 2007 study, “Consumer preferences for animal welfare: results from a telephone survey of U.S. households” completed by Lusk et al, 76 percent of survey participants considered animal welfare of livestock more important than retail meat prices.
Dr. Monique Pairis-Garcia, DVM, says pain management is important from a welfare standpoint fi rst, but also is important because the general public wants to know how we are managing our animals on farm. “Our next step is trying to talk about how we can eliminate or manage pain on the farm,” she says.
Pairis-Garcia was the featured presenter for a recent webinar for the SowBridge Distance Education Program. The Iowa State University researcher and recent PhD recipient discussed defining, recognizing, and managing both acute and chronic pain in sows, and regulatory challenges producers face in addressing pain management.
Pain, By Definition
The International Association for the Study of Pain defines pain as an “unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with actual or potential tissue damage.” Pain can be short-term (acute) or long-term (chronic). Both can cause discomfort and/or suff ering for an animal, thus increasing the urgency for proper attention and treatment in a timely manner.
Pairis-Garcia says, “We know as producers, veterinarians, swine extension specialists and anybody who works with an animal, that pain and suffering are clinically important conditions and that these conditions adversely aff ect an animal’s quality of life. Prevention and alleviation of animal pain and suff ering are going to be important goals on the farm.”
In general, sow pain falls into three categories:
- Procedure-related pain, usually involving surgeries, including hernia repair, prolapse repair, or caesarian sections
- Management-related pain, due to faulty facilities or environmental issues that predispose or increase the likelihood of injuries, such as shoulder wounds, heal erosions, lacerations, or fractures, which could potentially cause pain
- Disease-related pain, including lameness, mastitis, and farrowing diffi culties; Pairis-Garcia identifies respiratory and gastrointestinal diseases associated with pain aff ecting swine in this category
Whether a sow’s pain is caused by a surgery, injuries, or disease, producers should make every eff ort to alleviate that pain. “Regardless of the diff erent causes of pain, it needs to be managed,” says Pairis-Garcia. She explains that producers can use husbandry management and pharmacological techniques to manage pain in their sow herds.