Trialling pain relief during castration and dehorning in the NT


The Department of Primary Industry and Resources (DPIR) has recently started a joint project with Meat Livestock Australia to investigate the application of pain relief products during castration and dehorning in the Northern Territory. Production and welfare benefits from managing potential pain after routine husbandry procedures being performed will be investigated.


The industry is constantly improving animal husbandry practices. With the recent introduction and approval of several pain relief products for use on calves, there have been calls for a large scale trial to compare long-term production benefits to be conducted on ‘real world’ properties.


Anticipated outcomes from the trial include:

  • An assessment of any production benefit from providing pain relief to calves during castrating and dehorning, through monitoring liveweight, infection and any instances of mortality.
  • An assessment of the impacts of providing pain relief on animal behaviour following the procedures
  • Participating producers will also be surveyed on their experiences using the pain relief

What’s involved for participating properties?

Participating properties will need approximately 600 calves that are to be castrated and/or dehorned (this may be at the same time as weaning depending on your operation). This will be worked in with your regular mustering time. Prior to castration/dehorning, calves will need to be able to be weighed and tagged with either an National Livestock Identification Scheme tag or management tag with a unique number, so each individual animals weight change can be monitored. DPIR will provide the pain relief products and a member of the DPIR Livestock team will be there on the day to record animal information. Calves will then need to be reweighed three weeks later, this will allow the comparison of the different groups in the time following the procedures, to see if the animals that have received the pain relief products have a better liveweight response than those that did not.

Want to be part of the trial?

If you would like to be part of the trial, or would like some more information, please contact;

Melissa Wooderson, Livestock Industry Technician

Phone 8973 8476

Last updated: 28 September 2020

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