Miller, R., Grott, A., Patzkéwitsch, D. et al. 2023. Behavior of piglets in an observation arena before and after castration with local anesthesia. Animals 13(3), 529.
Surgical castration of piglets is generally recognized as a painful procedure, but there is currently no gold standard for the assessment of pain behavior in piglets. However, pain assessment is essential for evaluating the effectiveness of local anesthetics. In this study, we investigated the efficacy of four local anesthetics in terms of pain relief during and after surgical castration in three sequential study parts. To do so, we filmed 178 piglets before the applied procedures, after injection of the local anesthetic, and up to 24 h after castration (five observation times in total) in an observation arena and compared their behavior before and after castration and between treatments and control groups. The results showed significant differences in the behavior of the piglets before and after castration and between the sham-castrated control group and the control group castrated without anesthesia. The different local anesthesia treatment groups showed diverging differences to the control groups. The most frequently shown pain-associated behaviors of the piglets were changes in tail position and hunched back posture. We observed a reduction but no complete elimination of the expressed pain-associated behaviors after local anesthesia. Several behavioral changes—such as changes in tail position, hunched back posture or tail wagging—persisted until the day after castration. Owing to the limited duration of the effects of the local anesthetics, local anesthesia did not influence long-term pain.