Pain management important to dairy industry

Written by Peyson Shields
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Through programs like DFA’s Gold Standard Dairy Program, and its animal care module, National Milk Producers Federation’s Farmers Assuring Responsible Management (FARM) Program, the industry is working on continuous improvement when it comes to proper animal care practices.

“One issue that is often brought up in regard to animal care is pain management,” says Fabian Bernal, manager of dairy science and farm practices.

Beyond that broad umbrella, procedures such as extra teat removal, castration and/or dehorning, are routinely of focus.

“The science of pain in cattle is clear,” Bernal says. “Animals feel pain at different levels; however, veterinary medicine dictates we have to alleviate all pain, suffering and distress. We now have techniques and drugs to alleviate pain.”

Management of pain for routine procedures is a widely accepted veterinary best practice, but that has not always translated to the farm. It is important to understand that some painful procedures may have better alternatives and improved treatment given how far veterinary care has come, even in the past decade. 

When it comes to providing pain management to your herd, a good first step is to establish a Veterinarian Client-Patient Relationship (VCPR) with a VCPR form. If your farm already has a VCPR in place, it might be time to review the protocols on your dairy and identify whether they align with guidelines outlined in the FARM Program, the best comprehensive resource available for the dairy industry. 

Pain management resources
myDFA Gold Standard Dairy page

Animal Medicinal Drug Use Clarification Act

Ohio Livestock Care Standards