Pain in Livestock Production an Increasing Concern

by 5m Editor
17 November 2011, at 8:09am

CANADA - A professor with the Western College of Veterinary Medicine says consumers are becoming increasingly concerned with the manner in which farmers deal with pain in their livestock herds, Bruce Cochrane writes.

Pain is an important biological function that animals have evolved to prevent further injury or to learn from bad experiences.

Pigs and Pain: Perception, Reality and Public Opinion was discussed as part of Saskatchewan Pork Industry Symposium 2011 in Saskatoon.

Dr Joe Stookey, a professor in the Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences at the Western College of Veterinary Medicine in Saskatoon, says people rely on compounds to mitigate pain and expect pain to be addressed in animals as well.

Dr Joe Stookey-Western College of Veterinary Medicine

Your visit to the dentist's office for example, you're not about to sit in that chair and have a dental procedure done on you without some kind of pain relief.

We as a society, we've become very dependent on reducing our pain and there's statistics that show we spend more to address chronic pain in people than spend on cancer drugs, on heart medication and on AIDS which are huge and huge amounts of money are spent on those particular diseases and ailments.

As a society we have very low tolerance for it and so it's not surprising I think that society, how we address our own pain or even our companion animals, how we take care of them and how we will prevent them from experiencing pain, that sort of eventually rolls over in our attitudes towards other animals under our care.

So it's not surprising that consumers want to be assured that we're treating animals, even our food animals with some kind of dignity and humaneness and part of that is addressing the pain that they experience.

Dr Stookey notes pain can impact performance which lowers profitability and studies have shown an animal can recover from an injury quicker if it has some pain mitigation in place.

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