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Why are painful procedures performed without anaesthetic?

Article ID: 83
Last updated: 18 Feb, 2014
Revision: 2
Views: 14213

Farm animals may require invasive husbandry procedures that are intended to benefit the animal or group of animals involved. These include castration, spaying, mulesing (removal of wool-bearing skin from part of the tail and breech area in sheep), dehorning and horn trimming (in cattle, sheep and goats), tail docking of lambs, laparoscopic insemination of sheep, branding of animals for identification, and beak trimming of poultry.

However, these procedures may often cause pain, suffering or distress, particularly because they are routinely performed without anaesthetic or pain relief. A lack of understanding of the animal’s ability to experience pain and the unavailability of anaesthetics and/or pain relief to lay operators have been the main reasons for this.

The RSPCA is opposed to any unnecessary animal husbandry procedure — that is, any procedure that does not benefit the animal or group of animals involved. Procedures that are performed to prevent injury or disease in the animals or to control reproduction are acceptable, but procedures that are undertaken only for the benefit of people handling the animals, or for cosmetic reasons, are not.

The RSPCA’s position is that any procedure that may cause pain to the animals should be undertaken at the earliest possible age and only by competent and accredited operators. Appropriate pain-relieving products and treatments, and/or anaesthetics, must be used. Restraint of the animal for the procedure should be done in a way that minimises pain and distress, and appropriate postoperative care should be provided to minimise the risk of infection and to promote healing.

The long-term goal should be to replace invasive procedures with non-invasive alternatives.

This website provides general information which must not be relied upon or regarded as a substitute for specific professional advice, including veterinary advice. We make no warranties that the website is accurate or suitable for a person's unique circumstances and provide the website on the basis that all persons accessing the website responsibly assess the relevance and accuracy of its content.
Also read
document Can the RSPCA prosecute farmers for performing painful husbandry procedures without anaesthetic or pain relief?
document How are beef cattle reared?
document What is mulesing and what are the alternatives?
document RSPCA Policy B4 Farm animal husbandry and management
document Why are cattle dehorned and is it painful?
document Why are the tails of dairy cows docked?
document Is dehorning of cattle legal?
document Why are many male farm animals castrated?
document Why do farmed deer have their antlers removed?
document Why are cattle spayed?
document What is boar taint and how can it be prevented?
document What are the welfare issues with tail biting and tail docking in pigs?

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