Small, A., Marini, D., Colditz, I. 2021. Local anesthetic delivered with a dual action ring and injection applicator reduces the acute pain response of lambs during tail docking. Animals 11(8), 2242.
Docking the tail of lambs is a standard husbandry procedure and is achieved through several techniques including clamps, hot or cold knives and latex rings, the last of which is the most popular. All tail docking methods cause acute pain which can be reduced by application of local anesthetic, however precise anatomical injection for optimal efficacy requires considerable skill. This pen trial evaluated the ability of local anesthetic (LA) delivered with a dual function ring applicator/injector to alleviate acute tail docking pain. Thirty ewe lambs were assigned to one of three treatment groups (n = 10 per group): ring plus local anesthetic (Ring LA), ring only (Ring) and sham handled control (Sham). Lambs were videoed and their behavior categorized every five minutes for the first hour and every 10 min for the subsequent two hours after treatment. There was a significant effect (p < 0.001) of treatment on total active pain related behaviors in the first hour, with Ring lambs showing higher counts compared to Ring LA or Sham. Ring lambs also displayed a significantly higher count of combined abnormal postures (p < 0.001) than Ring LA or Sham lambs. Delivery of 1.5 mL of 2% lignocaine via the dual action device abolished abnormal behaviors and signs of pain in Ring LA lambs. However, lambs in the Ring LA group spent less time attempting to suckle compared to Ring and Sham lambs, suggesting that some residual discomfort remained.