Ferrer, L. M., Lacasta, D., Ortín, A. et al. 2020. Impact of a topical anaesthesia wound management formulation on pain, inflammation and reduction of secondary infections after tail docking in lambs. Animals 10(8), 1255.

We examined several procedures for surgical tail docking; with and without general anaesthesia (GA), including the use of a topical wound gel formulation to provide pain relief (PR) and improve healing after surgery, containing local anaesthetics lignocaine and bupivacaine, with cetrimide and adrenalin. Forty-four lambs were recruited into four equal cohorts: Groups A and C, the tail was excised with a scalpel without anaesthesia or stitches; Groups B and D, the tail was surgically excised and stitched under GA; Groups C and D wounds were immediately sprayed with PR. Behavioural observations identified that Groups A and C displayed significantly less pain-related behaviours than Groups B and D shortly after the procedure, especially if treated with PR. Similarly, the mean of days when animals showed no signs of wound infection was longer in the groups not undergoing stitching. Finally, treatment with PR appeared to reduce the cortisol response and avoided the elevation of serum amyloid A in lambs where the tail was excised without general anaesthesia. In conclusion, surgical tail-docking without GA but where wounds are immediately sprayed with PR, appears as an affordable and more welfare-appropriate method for conducting tail docking in lambs.

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