New technology delivering better pain relief

Global - lambs TD Farm
DEVICE: The Numnuts single action handheld device. (Photo: 4c Design)

NEW technology giving sheep producers the ability to safely deliver fast and effective pain relief to lambs during the castration and tail docking process is set to be available by mid-2019.

The product with a slightly risqué name – Numnuts – is the result of a partnership between Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA) and Scottish product design and engineering firm 4c Design.

The Numnuts tool incorporates a single action handheld device that dispenses a rubber ring and injects local anaesthetic to alleviate pain when lambs are castrated and tail-docked, known together as marking.

In addition to delivering technical innovation, 4c Design also developed the commercial business case for Numnuts. This led to the formation of a joint venture between 4c Design and Moredun Research Institute (MRI) to commercialise the new tool.

The technology has been licensed in Australia to Senesino for delivery to the Australian sheep industry with a pilot launch set for 2019.

Commonwealth Scientific Industrial and Research Organisation lead researcher Alison Small says extensive animal trials of Numnuts in Australia have produced positive results.

Detailed research studies were carried out at the CSIRO Chiswick field station, and commercial trials were carried out for both Merinos and crossbreds on five commercial farms in Australia during the 2018 marking season.

“There was a significant reduction in pain–related behaviours such as the ‘tucked up’ posture, bleating and lying down when sheep were treated using the Numnuts tool, as compared with just having rubber rings applied,” Small says.

MLA Welfare Program Manager Johann Schröder says the tool will add real benefits for producers on-farm.

“The Numnuts tool will allow producers to administer effective pain relief in a safe, controlled and fast-acting manner without the need for a veterinarian to be present, making it a practical and economically viable option for on-farm use,” Schröder says.

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