Published on Thu, 05/09/2019 by Solvet

Pain control a top concern for beef producers and consumers alike

The demand for humanely-raised farm animals has reached a critical point in Canada. The Canadian Centre for Food Integrity estimates that 40% of Canadians are concerned with humane treatment of farm animals, and support for that is rising every year.

“Every producer, veterinarian, research scientist – we all respect the animals we work with, and care deeply about doing what’s best for them.”

The beef industry wants consumers to know they’re listening.

“Every producer, veterinarian, research scientist – we all respect the animals we work with, and care deeply about doing what’s best for them,” says Dr. Merle Olson, a prominent Canadian veterinary researcher who has dedicated his career to developing humane treatments for production animals.  He is the lead pharmaceutical developer at Solvet – a Calgary-based company that generates veterinary medicines for the Canadian livestock industry.

The demand for humanely-raised beef is not just driven by consumers, however. Cattle producers and veterinarians themselves have been vocal about needing humane treatments for years. “Producers have long recognized the importance of pain relief for procedures like castration and branding, but have not had the tools to control pain,” he says. In response, they have approached Dr. Olson for a solution. After five years of research and development, Dr. Olson produced Meloxicam Oral Suspension as an easy-to-administer pain relief product for livestock. It has been recognized across the industry as a significant innovation in animal welfare.

Kim Hextall operates a family-run cattle farm with her husband in Grenfell, Saskatchewan, and is an advocate for humanely-raised beef. Hextall Livestock is designated Verified Beef Production +, a certification that acknowledges responsible on-farm beef production and food safety practices in Canada and is endorsed by industry and regulatory bodies, including the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. “We do what we can to relieve as much stress as possible,” she says. “We used Meloxicam for this reason, and all the cattle were mothered up very well. The next day after branding they looked very normal and that is what we were really looking for in a pain relief product.”

Dr. Olson acknowledges that although oral Meloxicam was developed for cattle welfare reasons, the pain control has been shown to translate into healthier and more productive animals. Alberta-based beef producer Sue Giles has seen the benefit first-hand. “When we used it, our weights were definitely up at weaning,” says Giles, who, alongside her husband Jason, is a partner in Giles Ranch. “It kind of makes sense if you’re reducing stress that they’re going to give something back to you,” she says.

Now that pain control has established its place in cattle production, consumers, cattle producers and veterinarians can be confident that Canadian production systems are meeting animal welfare concerns. Research coming out of Western Canada and the rapid adoption by producers and veterinarians have significantly contributed to this.

“Ultimately, producers want Canadians to know that we all have a common desire for doing the right thing,” says Dr. Olson. “We too care about these animals, and our industry is responding with innovations to demonstrate that.”