Application of pain relief for mulesing
It is necessary to assess each specific husbandry procedure to fully understand the best pain mitigation strategy. In many cases, a number of these procedures occur concurrently (e.g. in sheep: mulesing, castration and tail docking; earmarking and/or eartagging).
When undertaking painful procedures, always ensure best practice husbandry recommendations are followed and that application guidelines, which are present on all pain relief product labels, are adhered to.
For up to date husbandry guidelines, please refer to A producer’s guide to sheep husbandry practices.
Mulesing is the removal of skin around the breech area of a sheep to decrease the risk of breech flystrike and aid in crutching. There is a strong expectation that if mulesing is performed, it will be done so in conjunction with the provision of pain relief medication. In at least one state this is now a legislative requirement. Research studies looking at pain-related behaviours suggest:
- Tri-Solfen and Buccalgesic both provide pain relief with mulesing, with Tri-Solfen providing a faster response (especially in the first four hours) and Buccalgesic four to six hours post treatment (but likely longer). Tri‑Solfen also provides a sustained effect (at least 24 hours) on the development of mulesing wound pain.
- A combination of Buccalgesic and Tri-Solfen provides the best pain relief.
- Pain still occurs after these products wear off.
Specific research has not been reported using injectable meloxicam, but it is expected to have the same effect as reported for Buccalgesic.