In the words of the great Bob Dylan... The times they are a changing... It was not that long ago that we (the veterinary profession included) were blissfully unaware that animals were so capable of feeling pain and distress. As time goes on we are all becoming more and more knowledgeable about welfare and ethics, and it is still an area that we all must strive to get better at.


Many will be aware that some new animal welfare regulations have been issued earlier this year. Most of these regulations will come into force in October 2018 and they relate mainly to:
• Stock transport
• Farm husbandry
• Companion and working animals
• Pigs and layer hens
• Rodeos
• Surgical or painful procedures

The details of these changes are well documented on the MPI website, as they will be the governing body. For dairy farmers the changes of note involve things like transport and euthanasia of young calves, transporting of cows in late pregnancy, use of electric prodders and the use of local anaesthetic before dehorning and disbudding.

As of October 2019, it will be illegal to dehorn or disbud calves without local anaesthetic being administered prior to the procedure. This will give farmers and calf-rearers, who do their own disbudding, time to become trained, competent and signed off to carry out this procedure. We are in the process of training people to administer local anaesthetic, so if you are keen to join the training scheme please contact the clinic before the start of disbudding. Otherwise all VetEnt disbudding is done using local and often additional pain relief as well. Recent studies have also shown that “ Calves given analgesia at disbudding grew faster in the next 15 days than calves not given analgesia” (Bates, Laven, Chapple, Weeks & Eder, 2016).

There are some areas of the new regulations that can be difficult to interpret such as lame cows being fit for transport, cancer eye and chronic mastitis cases. If you are unsure about whether to send an animal to the abattoir, a vet certificate from us is cheap insurance. Our vets will be able to make a call about whether we think the condition adheres to the regulations and if not then a certificate won’t be written. We are currently running with a four day time limit from certification through to day of slaughter so please bear that in mind, and allow notice for us to book your animals appointment without a last minute rush!

Another tool to have on hand, is the Fit for Transport app which was launched by MPI last year. Developed with industry leaders and vets, the app is an easy and efficient tool to help people make the right decision for the welfare of animals. It consolidates available information in to one place and doesn’t require internet access, which makes it suitable for on-farm use.

09 July 2018, 03:54