Giving lambs pain relief is something many merino farmers will be doing this tailing and docking season. The fine wool industry is leading the charge on this one, with strong wool farmers likely to have to follow.
Vet Marlborough, a clinic in Blenheim, is the first in the country to hold a special field day on the topic, helping get their clients up to speed with the options - this includes injections, sprays, or a drench to give for pain relief during castration and tail removal.
On Thursday REX set-up Producer Jo Grigg, was in the tailing pen along with a group of farmers who got to try out a whole bunch of tools on some lambs.
She spoke to Heath Dickson, Rural Business Manager, from Vet Marlborough who discussed a variety of pain relief options, from injections to sprays, and the importance of making these options practical and efficient for farmers.
"We want effective pain relief, but it also needs to be efficient," said Dickson.
Dickson explained the burgeoning push within the fine wool industry towards applying pain relief during tail docking and castration, even suggesting that it could become part of the accreditation process for selling wool into new contracts.
"It certainly seems that way for some of the brands that our fine wool growers have contracts with at the moment."
Vet Malborough, a clinic in Blenheim, was highlighted as the first in the country to hold a field day on the topic. The field day was designed to get clients up to speed with the pain relief options available.
"We had a lot of clients in a very short period of time that was going to need to be certified to use as pain relief. So we thought that a good way to, I guess, make it efficient and effective and also cost-effective for all their clients is why don't we hold a day and they all come to us?" Dickson explained.
The pain relief options for lambs varied from local anaesthetic, topical sprays to anti-inflammatories and a special applicator called Numnuts that applies a rubber ring and injects local anaesthetic simultaneously. Dickson acknowledged that the options each have their positives and drawbacks, and farmers should make their choice based on the size of their lambs and the practicality of application.
It was also noted that these pain relief measures come with a cost implication for farmers.
"It's very difficult to say this is what it's going to cost you all up because you know you might be tailing a group of lambs that range from nine kilos all the way up to 20 kilos, and if that is the case, it's so hard to predict."
Dickon's insight provides a compelling look into the future of farming, where the welfare of the animals is prioritised alongside productivity. As pain relief measures become more commonplace, it's clear that the industry is evolving to meet new standards of care.
Listen to the full chat between Rural Business Manager Heath Dickson and Jo Grigg above.