Oral pain relief gel for sheep due next year

Sheep Central, October 27, 2015

AN ORAL pain relief gel similar to a product released for use in cattle production earlier this year is set to be approved for use in the sheep industry next year.

Troy Laboratories released a pain relief product for cattle earlier this year containing the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug, meloxicam.

“Ilium Buccalgesic OTM” is a viscous liquid applied using a drench-like gun applicator into the space between the gum and cheek of a calf. The active ingredient is effectively absorbed through the buccal membranes of the cheek and delivers pain relief within 5-10 minutes, with efficacy lasting 24 hours or longer.

The cost to producers to buy Buccalgesic through their vets (which is the only way they can access the product) is approximately 80 cents for a 40kg calf or $2.40/ 120kg calf.

Troy Laboratories CEO Ian Saunders said the pain relief gel was developed to provide farmers with a cost-effective way of achieving pain management and to ensure livestock are not set back in their development and weight gain due to pain related issues.

He believes the key to driving wider uptake of the product will involve demonstrating to producers that there is more than just a “feel good benefit” to using pain relief.

The company currently has trial work underway to monitor feeding times, feeding rates and weight changes of calves treated with Buccalgesic versus a non-treated group.

After calves are disbudded, monitoring equipment on a feeder device records the ear tag numbers of treated and non-treated cattle as they feed, which provides accurate time of feeding and length of feeding for the two groups. Weight changes are also monitored.

“The indication to us on the early data is that there is a clear difference between a calf that has had the treatment and one that has not,” Mr Saunders said.

“We’re looking at around about 11pc difference in weight between treated and non-treated calves.”

Ilium Buccalgesic OTM has been funded by a million dollar partnership between the MLA Donor Company (MDC) and Troy Laboratories Australia.

Meloxicam was previously only available in the form of an injection, which presented operator-safety, carcase-quality and welfare issues.

The normal dose is less than 3 mL and is stained blue, so it is easy to see the animal has been treated.

“It can be given while the animals are in the race so the pain medication is kicking in at the time of operation,” Mr Saunders said.

“The calves then have 24–48 hours pain free and, as there are no needles involved, it’s also safer for the operator.”

The MDC-Troy partnership has also produced a similar pain relief product for sheep, which is due to be released later in 2016.

MLA Sustainability R&D Program Manager Jim Rothwell, said the MDC-Troy partnership was necessary to address a market failure.

He said Troy Laboratories had conceived the product, but the high cost of development and registration presented an enormous barrier to its development.

“There is no longer patent protection for registered NSAIDs, which limited the commercial incentive to develop them further for sheep and cattle,” Mr Rothwell said.

“The development and registration process was expensive so, by sharing that cost, Troy and the MDC have created products that would probably not have been developed if left in the hands of market forces.”

Mr Rothwell said the sheep product, in particular, required an expensive residue study as there was no NSAID registered for sheep in Australia.

“There is significant interest from producers in best practice pain relief, so we anticipate there will be a lot of interest in these products when they become available,” he said.

Tri-Solfen uptake ‘an industry success story’


Meanwhile, the Tri-Solfen anesthetic and antiseptic spray released for use in the sheep industry in 2008 to provide post-operation pain relief for lambs after mulesing has become an unheralded industry success story, according to one of its developers.

Tri-Solfen is sprayed onto the open wound immediately after mulesing and provides pain-relief for up to 24 hours, stops bleeding and also provides protection against infection.

The spray contains an organic marker to indicate that it has been applied.

Livestock producer and animal nutrition industry leader Chick Olsson, who was involved in the development of Tri-Solfen, told Sheep Central that progress is being made and registration for use by all cattle operations is expected by next year.

Sheep producers can currently buy Tri-Solfen off the shelf from Landmark or through their veterinarian.

Mr Olsson estimates that 70pc of Australian sheep producers now voluntarily use the product to treat around 7 million lambs a year.

As many as 50 million lambs have now received pain relief during the mulesing operation since Tri-Solfen was registered for use on sheep back in 2008.

The product costs producers about 40-50c per lamb to apply, Mr Olsson said. While a small market premium was currently available for wool sold from pain-relief treated sheep, Mr Olsson said most producers were using tri-Solfen simply because it was “the right thing to do”.

“This is the story our industry should be telling,” he said. “All the good work that people are doing voluntarily with no guarantee of being rewarded, they are doing it because it is the right thing to do.”

Will an anesthetic treatment satisfy animal welfare advocates if it is applied after the procedure, rather than before?

Mr Olsson said there were some welfare activists who were not satisfied with a post-op treatment, but there were also many “reasonable” activists who saw it as a great step.

“There are people at RSPCA who are brilliant I find and really think it is great and they are looking at the science, because 95pc of the pain comes in the next day after the operation, and Tri-Solfen provides 24 hour pain relief after the operation.

“A quick mulesing cut is painful but not as painful as four hours afterwards.

“Some rights groups and welfare groups are hard to talk to, but there are very reasonable people out there who think that what Australian farmers have done is amazing, and that is the story we should be telling.”





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  1. This is good, but can you use Tri -Solfen on goats too after de budding ?
    Which method is best? Full names required in future for reader comments please Jean, as per our long-standing comments policy: Editor

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