The And Management Of Pain

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As a 2000 graduate of an accredited veterinary college it is of interest to consider the divergent philosophy that persists today regarding the consideration and management of pain in animals. Indeed, accredited veterinary curriculums have included a standard of care for castration in companion animals that requires pre and postoperative pain management since at least the year 2000. However, at the same time, those universities had no such standard of care for animals raised for food such as piglets, and the vast majorities still don’t.

The practice of castration in piglets is conducted typically within the first week of life primarily to prevent the development of “boar taint” (Guay et al., 2013). Boar taint is the result
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The Dilemma
Is there a compelling ethical argument that would justify a standard of care for piglet castration that precludes the application of anesthesia and analgesia in the United States?

To adequately assess the question one must consider the options and the ethical concerns of the stakeholders. While there are several options, the two alternatives put forth for consideration are whether or not pain mitigation is provided. The stakeholders considered here include the: piglet, herd, farmer/stockperson, buyer (slaughter house or “packer”), customers (retail and restaurants), consumers and the environment.

What are the options?
There are a few ways in which the procedural and post-procedural pain associated with castration can be prevented or mitigated. The use of a local anesthetic (LA) alone can mitigate procedural pain as well as post procedural pain for a few hours in pigs castrated at an early age (McGlone and Hellman, 1988). Alternatively, a general anesthetic (injectable or inhalant) in combination with an analgesic is also able to reduce the pain associated with castration (McGlone and Hellman, 1988). However, the use of inhalation anesthetics on a mass scale are as of yet impractical as some agents pose a safety risk for the operator and pig, reducing nursing and seeking behavior in piglets,
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