Abstract Column Efficacy of Oral Meloxicam in Lambs Being Castrated and Tail Docked

Summarised by Robyn Hamman

Small, A., Belson, S., Holm, M. and Colditz, I. (2014), Efficacy of a buccal meloxicam formulation for pain relief in Merino lambs undergoing knife castration and tail docking in a randomised field trial. Australian Veterinary Journal, 92: 381–388. doi: 10.1111/avj.12241

Why they did it

It is well documented that routine procedures such as tail docking and castration in lambs is a painful procedure with knock on consequences, it is however a necessary procedure to prevent conditions such as blowfly strike and fighting. The application of a non steroidal anti-inflammatory has the ability to limit the negative effects however ease of application when processing large numbers of lambs as well as time constraints were important parameters for these researchers.

What they did

A blinded, randomised, block design field study group of 60 merino lambs, 2months of age were divided in two groups. The animals were habituated to observers. On the day of procedure animals either received Meloxicam (10mg/ml) formulated to aid buccal absorption or a placebo via oral dosing gun. Meloxicam was administered at 1mg/kg immediately prior to procedure. Following castration and tail docking the lambs were released back into the camp and observers’ recorded animal behaviour and join up over the following 8hours and again at 24 hours. Weight change was recorded 4 and 7 days after marking.

What they found 

Meloxicam did not affect mothering up, however in the 8 hours following it was noted that the treated group had a 7-fold reduction (P<0.001) in abnormal behaviour (hunched, standing, walking stiffly and stretched posture). The treated group spent more time grazing, suckling or lying than the placebo group. At 24 hours the treated group continued to show a higher proportion of normal behaviour compared to the placebo. No difference in weight was observed at 4 and 7 days post procedure.

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