Pain Mitigation Roundtable Offers Opportunities To Share, Collaborate And Move The Livestock Industry Forward By: Heather Matheson-Bird 


Thirty-two livestock industry professionals and stakeholders took part in a daylong conversation around strategies to mitigate pain for livestock. The emphasis was on sharing and confirming current issues, identifying knowledge gaps and exploring ways to reach the desired goal of mitigating pain. Contributors represented livestock researchers, veterinarians, animal welfare specialists, academia, government, industry organizations and pharmaceutical companies. Participants shared updates on the present state of pain control in the livestock industry in Alberta.

Large group discussions were interspersed after speaker presentations relating to pain mitigation updates throughout the day. The group discussions concentrated on deficiencies in tools or techniques available to Industry, concerns surrounding progress on pain mitigation strategies, collective interests, i.e. multi-species, industry-wide concerns and research gaps in knowledge.

Nick Allan, President of Chinook Contract Research Inc. presented about the recent development of a novel elastrator band that releases topical analgesia for improved pain mitigation during castration. This promising device showed in field testing that a pain mitigating compound was released into tissue at effective concentrations, is detectable within 0.5 hours and out to 7 days and that substantial analgesia remains in the bands after 7 days. Further development and testing is expected in larger scale field trials in the coming year.

Dr. Karen Schwartzkopf-Genswein, Senior Research Scientist with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada in Lethbridge gave a pain mitigation strategies new research update of work done over the past few years.

Dr. Merle Olson DVM, Research Director with Alberta Veterinary Laboratories Ltd. presented a 2019 update on pain mitigation options for livestock. These included multiple species, numerous products and even addressed the issue of drug residues threatening predation wildlife such as birds of prey. Dr. Ed Pajor, Anderson-Chisholm Chair in Animal Care and Welfare, Professor of Animal Behaviour and Welfare, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Calgary encompassed pain mitigation and why it is still iImportant. This included the ever challenging social liscence piece as well as provided an update on the recent donation of a working cattle ranch (WA Ranches) to the University of Calgary

Equine expert Les Burwash facilitated the large group discussions: Knowledge & Research Gaps and Gaps in Tools or Techniques Available to Industry. Generating a list for the group to use for future research, grant applications and decision tree designs include challenges of how to measure pain in livestock and culminated with the determination of five priorities for the Alberta livestock industry to focus on over the next few years.

Priority areas identified for further research, understanding and consideration:

1) Physiology of pain in young animals is not well understood

2) In addition to pain control through medication, changes in management practices that will help address pain and drug use need to be explored further

3) Valuing best management practices at all levels of the market chain will encourage adoption

4) There is room for improvement in acute pain management

5) Developing more effective lameness diagnosis tools/methods would be beneficial for the livestock industry

The day provided an opportunity to learn, share information and research projects in the hope that participants will continue to collaborate to address these issues in the future. Knowing who’s doing what is an important part of the networking and collaboration efforts. The group will continue to dialogue in the months ahead and the group undertook to gather for further discussions within the next four years to continue to share, learn and move the industry forward.

This event was a collaborative effort involving numerous agencies including coordinating efforts through Alberta Beef Producers with generous funding from the Canadian Agricultural Adaptation Program grant and Chinook Contract Research Inc.