In farm animal production, animal welfare requires specific consideration based on the specific animal welfare requirements in place worldwide. Veterinary practitioners play an important role in ensuring that on-farm animal production is carried out according to animal welfare standards.
Animal welfare - definition
Animal welfare means how an animal is coping with the conditions in which it lives. An animal is in a good state of welfare if it is healthy, comfortable, well-nourished, safe, able to express innate behaviour and not suffering from unpleasant states such as pain, fear and distress.
Good animal welfare requires disease prevention and veterinary treatment, appropriate care, shelter, good management, nutrition and human handling. Poor welfare, whatever its cause, can lead to increased susceptibility to disease. It has been shown that poor welfare makes disease more likely by initiating immunosuppression (Kelly, 1980; Broom and Kirkden, 2004).
As well as the ethical responsibility to prevent pain and suffering, there is a need to maintain health as the essential precondition to animal welfare.
"Five freedoms" concept
European animal welfare standards are based on the European Convention for the Protection of Animals kept for Farming and they reflect five principles of animal welfare (the "Five Freedom"; Table 1).
Animal health and animal welfare are inextricably linked and there is a critical relationship between animal health and animal welfare. Good animal health management is the basis to optimise the physical and behavioural health and the welfare of animals. Ensuring animal welfare has a multifactorial approach which includes a broad range of influencing factors summarised in Figure 1.
Freedom from pain, injury and disease
Constant monitoring of animals on a farm is necessary to pick up injuries, swellings, behaviour changes and other disease-related deviations.
- Lameness is indicative of pain (Figure 2). Depending on the cause, treatment might differ. Appropriate analgesic and anti-inflammatory treatment is often required.
- Acute pleuropneumonia is characterised by rapid fever development and lung inflammation as well as necrosis and haemorrhage in the lungs caused by A. pleuropneumoniae produced endotoxins (Figure 3). A potent non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) to control pain, inflammation with antipyretic and anti-endotoxic effects is required.
- Farrowing can be a painful and stressful process causing aggression and having a negative effect on colostrum and milk production.
- Postpartum dysgalactia syndrome (PPDS) during the peripartum period often causes udder inflammation, pain, fever development and reduced milk production (Figure 4). Administration of a potent NSAID to control pain and inflammation with an antipyretic effect is helpful.
Importance of a safe and potent NSAID for pain control: the cure should not be worse than the treatment
pigs are inherently sensitive to developing stomach ulcers or, even worse, stomach wall perforations. This can be evoked by several factors of which the use of NSAIDs is one, by inhibiting the cyclooxygenase-1 (COX-1) instead of selective COX-2. Selective COX-2 inhibitors, like Pyrocam oral suspension, are not only more effective but also safer.
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are a group of products which play a key role in pain and inflammation management in pigs. Their activity is based on the reduction of prostaglandin biosynthesis by inhibition of the COX-1 and COX-2 enzymes. Cyclooxygenase enzymes induce prostaglandin which consequently leads to inflammation, fever and pain.
COX-1 is the consecutive form of the cyclooxygenase enzyme expressed in all tissues of the body catalysing the formation of physiologically relevant prostaglandins, which mediate normal physiologic effects like gastrointestinal mucosal protection, haemostasis and kidney protection from hypotensive insult.
In contrast, COX-2 is activated in damaged and inflamed tissues, catalysing the formation of pro-inflammatory prostaglandins which intensify the inflammation process. COX-2 is also involved in thermoregulation and the pain response to injury. The specific inhibition of COX-2 is responsible for the antipyretic, analgesic and anti-inflammatory actions of corresponding NSAID products.
NSAID products are, in their mode of action, characterised by differences in their inhibition patterns of COX-1 and COX-2 enzymes.
Pyrocam 15 mg/ml oral suspension (meloxicam) is an NSAID which specifically inhibits COX-2. Other NSAIDs show a COX-1 selective activity (acetylsalicylic acid; ketoprofen) or a more balanced COX-1/COX-2 activity (sodium salicylate; Figure 5). Due to its COX-2 selective effect and inhibition, Pyrocam meloxicam provides higher analgesic, anti-inflammatory and antipyretic effects in the case of administration in pigs in comparison to other NSAID products.
Pig welfare and health plan
The veterinary practitioner is on the frontline for the establishment of health and good welfare in pigs reared under intensive or conventional settings.
Pig welfare and health plans in pig farms need to include Pyrocam 15 mg/ml oral suspension (meloxicam) as a key element based on its high analgesic, anti-inflammatory and antipyretic effects. Together with the judicious use of antibiotics, those targeted treatment concepts can create freedom from suffering, pain, inflammation and disease, which is in line with the welfare and health standards defined for pigs.
References are available on request.