Small, A., Fetiveau, M., Smith, R. et al. 2021. Three studies evaluating the potential for lidocaine, bupivacaine or procaine to reduce pain-related behaviors following ring castration and/or tail docking in lambs. Animals 11(12), 3583.
The use of local anesthesia at the time of ring castration and tail docking can improve lamb welfare. However, few local anesthetics are registered for sheep, and data on their duration of effect is limited. Three studies were conducted to evaluate the efficacy of procaine (P), lidocaine (L), and bupivacaine (B) in terms of observed alleviation of behavioral responses to castration and/or tail docking in 10-min blocks in the first 60 min post-treatment. In each study, comparisons were made between two groups of lambs castrated and/or tail docked with rubber rings and either receiving the agent using the NUMNUTS® instrument (N) or receiving no anesthetic agent (RR). Acute pain behavior was lower in NL (n = 28) than RRL (n = 15) males in the first 10 min post-procedure (p < 0.05); lower in NB (n = 16) than RRB (n = 16) males in periods 10–20 min (0.05 < p < 0.01), 20–30 min (p < 0.05) and 40–50 min (0.05 < p < 0.01); lower in NB (n = 16) than RRB (n = 16) females between 20 and 40 min post-procedure (0.05 < p < 0.01); lower in NP (n = 8) than RRP (n = 7) males in period 10–20 min (0.05 < p < 0.01), and lower in NP (n = 9) than RRP (n = 9) females in periods 0–10 min (0.05 < p < 0.01), and 10–40 min (p < 0.05). Benefits were modest, and the effects of procaine appear to last longer than lidocaine, while bupivacaine is slower to take effect than either procaine or lidocaine but may provide longer-lasting pain relief. The duration of action of local anesthetics is short in sheep, and detailed behavioral evaluations are required in the first hour post-procedure to establish efficacy.