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Abandonment of castration without anaesthesia

Four months on from the outbreak of the pandemic and gives his assessment of the European milk policy

From 1 January 2021, the castration of piglets, including those less than eight days of age, without anaesthesia will be banned in Germany. Many piglet producers have not yet decided which of the four alternatives that are permitted in Germany they will be implementing on their farms from then on:

  • Boar fattening
  • Immunocastration
  • Castration with injection narcosis
  • Castration with inhalation narcosis

The local anaesthesia usual in some Northern European countries is not permitted in Germany due to the lack of analgesia and cannot therefore be used as a possible alternative.

Besides coordinating with fatteners and slaughterhouses, there is also the question of which method can implemented most economically by the piglet producers in terms of labour. This can vary from farm to farm, which is why practical experience is of such great interest. This practical knowledge is currently being imparted and shared in numerous webinars throughout Germany. The permitted methods are presented in these online events, which last a good two hours. The scientific backgrounds of the different variants are first explained. Country-specific circumstances are also reported on and direct exchange with farmers and consultants who have already acquired experience with the different alternatives is possible.

One important item on the agenda is also the presentation of isoflurane anaesthesia devices which have been certified by the DLG Test Center. During certification, all of these devices underwent an optimisation process spanning several months in order to meet the high requirements. Besides functional reliability and handling, focus is particularly placed on work safety.

The new DLG Expert Knowledge pamphlet 454 provides users of isoflurane inhalation narcosis with information on optimising work processes and clearly illustrates user tips from practical work surveys. The experiences described and illustrations shown in the Expert Knowledge pamphlet originate from two funded projects focussing on the practicality of inhalation narcosis. The investigations were conducted both on conventionally and on organically managed farms in Germany. DLG's partners in both of the joint projects were the Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (FiBL), Hesse Department of Agriculture (LLH), Giessen University and the North Rhine-Westphalia Chamber of Agriculture. At present, the Expert Knowledge pamphlets are only available in German, but translation into English is also planned in the run-up to EuroTier.