Pain management in swine

As our understanding of Good Farming Practices grows, the importance of pain management in swine becomes increasingly evident.

In the past it was sometimes claimed that pigs feel pain less intensely or even not at all. However, pigs, like cattle, are adept at masking signs of pain, making it challenging to recognise at times.

Today it is widely accepted that common procedures in pig farming necessitate effective pain relief and swine anaesthesia and analgesia methods have been developed to ensure the welfare of the animals.

Integrated approach to pain management

Animal welfare is becoming a key topic for society, consumers, and politicians. An integrated approach to pain management is an essential part of any activity that aims to improve pig welfare.

Pain management in Cattle - Dechra's integrated approach

Common causes of pain in swine

Addressing the root cause of pain is the first step. Routine husbandry procedures in pigs (e.g. castration) are often necessary for safety, meat quality or management purposes, but can cause significant discomfort and distress to the animals if not properly managed. Inadequate housing conditions or illness also can cause pain. Veterinarians play a pivotal role in assessing animal needs and offering comprehensive guidance to uphold welfare standards. Ultimately happy pigs will perform better.


Identifying signs of pain in swine

Detecting discomfort or pain in pigs can be challenging. General indicators of pain may include decreased appetite, lethargy, abnormal posture and movement or an increase in heart and respiratory rates. More subtle signs can be classified with a pig grimacing scale.

Pain management strategies for swine

Adequate pain medication will depend on the cause and the location of pain and may be multimodal, i.e. a combination of different analgesics administered via various routes (oral, injection, local) to optimise the effect.