Journal of Animal Science vol:89 issue:10 pages:3310-3317
Surgical castration of male piglets without anesthesia is a routine management practice conducted on commercial pig farms. For animal welfare reasons, it would be beneficial to develop methods of practical pain relief. The objective of this study was to evaluate the effect of providing CO2 anesthesia before castration on the behavior of piglets for up to 8 d after castration in comparison with piglets castrated without anesthesia. In 3 successive replicates, the behavior of 186 male piglets castrated with (n = 95) or without (n = 91) anesthesia was observed for up to 8 d after castration. All piglets in a given replicate were castrated on the same day, before 8 d of age. Behavioral observations were carried out in accordance with a continuous focal sampling procedure that began immediately after castration and continued for a period of 1 wk. Bar-rows anesthetized with CO2 before castration displayed more interactive behaviors during the overall observation period than the other barrows (P = 0.0412), which may indicate better welfare. Assessing all observation periods separately, differences in activity at the udder, lying, walking, and interactive behaviors appeared to support the beneficial effect of providing CO2 anesthesia before castration. However, these differences varied over time between treatment groups. The most important conclusion was that piglets castrated with or without CO2 anesthesia displayed behaviors indicative of pain and discomfort for up to 6 d after castration. Therefore, additional analgesia may be necessary to eliminate the long-term pain caused by castration even in piglets anesthetized with CO2 before castration.