Swiss Federal Research Station for Animal Production, Posieux

Castration of piglets under local anaesthesia

The feasibility of the castration of piglets under local anaesthesia was investigated in a breeding herd during one year. None of the roughly 700 one to two weeks old piglets showed signs of side effects after the injection of 0.5 ml 2% lidocaine into each testicle. The extra time needed for handling the piglets and injecting the local anaesthetic amounted to about the time used for castration without local anaesthesia. In order to test the efficacy of local anaesthesia, one testicle only was injected in 156 piglets, and the intensity of vocalization was recorded when the two spermatic cords were severed about ten minutes after the injection. No vocalization, cries indistinguishable from cries of anxiety and shrill cries indicative of acute pain were recorded in 66, 24 and 10 per cent respectively when the testicle with the injected anaesthetic was removed and in 14, 50 and 36 per cent when the testicle without anaesthesia was removed. The study shows that local anaesthesia as described above is easy to perform and in general reduces the pain experienced during castration, although in at least ten per cent of the cases pain reduction is insufficient.

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