Pain relief for sheep husbandry operations
Tail docking and castration are essential management operations that are routinely carried out by sheep producers.
While nobody has denied that tail docking and castration cause pain and stress to the animals, there has been an absence of cost effective and efficient methods for reducing the side effects. In recent years advances in science and technology have assisted the development of cost effective products that can be used to reduce the pain and distress associated with some husbandry operations.
While the majority of producers who mules their sheep are now using the spray on gel, Tri Solfen, 2020 saw the uptake of a new product, Numnuts®. Numnuts® applies elastrator rings over the tail and scrotum while simultaneously injecting an optimal dose of the local anaesthetic, NumOcaine®. This resource explores the use of this new product and is designed for Stage 5 and 6 students.
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This set of activities addresses the ethical issue of providing pain relief for animals during husbandry operations. These activities focus on the use of Numnuts® used for sheep undergoing castration and tail docking. The activities use video resources and questions to promote ethical discussion within the classroom.
Agricultural Technology Stage 5 – Animal Production 2
- Select and use technologies to assist effective animal management practices.
- Identify emerging technologies that affect sustainability.
- Investigate Australian animal welfare codes and their effect on the management of intensive and extensive systems.
- Implement and document practices in accordance with animal welfare codes.
HSC Agriculture – Animal Production
Animal ethics and welfare
- Discuss the factors that should be considered when carrying out a particular husbandry practice to reduce the negative welfare impacts to the animal including use of appropriate equipment, skill of the operator, timing of the animal practice, management of the animals after completion of practice.
- Discuss one ethical issue relevant to an animal production system such as mulesing, live export, battery egg production, use of farrowing crates.
HSC Agriculture Elective 3 – Farming for the 21st Century
- For one recent technological development:
- explain the reasons for the development of the technology
- outline the historical development of the technology
- describe in detail the technological development
- evaluate the impact of the technological development in terms of economic, environmental, social, legal, and managerial factors.
Agricultural Technology Years 7-10 Syllabus © NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA) for and on behalf of the Crown in right of the State of New South Wales, 2019.
Agriculture Stage 6 Syllabus © NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA) for and on behalf of the Crown in right of the State of New South Wales, 2013.
In recent years animal production has seen widespread use of the product Tri-Solfen® to provide pain relief for sheep that are mulesed and cattle that are dehorned. More recently a product marketed under the name Numnuts® has been released to provide pain relief for sheep being tail docked and/or castrated with an elastrator ring.
To learn more about Numnuts® and its use, visit Numnuts® store and watch Landline 15/11/20 (54:00) (beginning 43:52).
The following are some suggested activities that link to the identified syllabus content:
- Describe how Numnuts® is administered to an animal during marking.
- NumOcaine is the local anaesthetic that is injected during the process. Describe how it assists in pain relief for the animal during marking.
- If a producer was to use this product, identify the information that needs to be recorded on their animal care records.
- Construct a table that shows the advantages and disadvantages of using Numnuts.
- Imagine you are a sheep producer. Make a judgement about whether you would use Numnuts® when carrying out castration and tail docking. Explain the reasons for your decision.
- Answer a, b and c in relation to Numnuts®:
- Explain the reasons for the development of Numnuts®.
- Outline the historical development of Numnuts®.
- Evaluate the impact of Numnuts® in terms of economic, environmental, social, legal, and managerial factors.