Pain Mitigation Boosts Productivity & Profitability

2 December 2011, at 9:31am

CANADA - A professor with the Western College of Veterinary Medicine says by minimising pain, livestock producers have an opportunity to improve the productivity and profitability of their animals, writes Bruce Cochrane.

"Pigs and Pain: Perception, Reality and Public Opinion" was among the topics discussed as part of Saskatchewan Pork Industry Symposium 2011 last month in Saskatoon.

Dr Joe Stookey, a professor in the Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences at the Western College of Veterinary Medicine, explains both people and animals experience pain in a similar manner.

Clip-Dr Joe Stookey-Western College of Veterinary Medicine:

"We're really wired the same.

"Pain is a very important biological function that animals have evolved in a way to prevent further injury or to learn from bad experiences so if you couldn't perceive pain that would put you at a real disadvantage and that hardware is sort of conserved through all animals.

"Just like all organisms can reproduce, all animals have a way of respiring and taking in oxygen, how animals perceive pain and how people perceive pain is very much identical despite the fact that we're in different shapes as animals.

"We know from studies with people and infants that historically we did procedures without mitigating pain because we were afraid from an infant's perspective of the dangers of some of these compounds.

"They maybe couldn't handle them as well as an adult so infants were often operated on without attempts to mitigate pain.

"As we grew more comfortable in how we use it we also learned that they actually heal better.

"They heal quicker.

"An animal can recover from that injury or assault if it has some pain mitigation in place."

Dr Stookey acknowledges the effect of pain will vary depending on severity but, as we all know from personal experience, very intense pain can affect our appetites and our performance so from that perspective pain is important and from a livestock productivity and profitability perspective, has become topic of discussion.

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