Delivering effective and targeted pain relief.

Developed over 8 years in collaboration with CSIRO, Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA), Australian Wool Innovation (AWI) and Moredun Research Institute (MRI).

Pain relief makes business sense

A farmer’s goal is for their animals to grow as quickly as possible. Setbacks  – when animals stop growing or even lose weight – must be avoided or minimised. Well-evidenced veterinary research has highlighted that severe pain can restrict healthy development. 

A long-established practice for marking (tail docking and castration) is the application of rubber (Elastrator®) rings. Research shows that marked animals experience acute ischemic pain which is most severe 15 to 45 minutes after application. This pain manifests visually as abnormal behaviour including lying down and mis-mothering.

Current marking practices are coming under increased scrutiny from animal welfare groups, particularly when carried out on older animals. In the UK, 1954 legislation makes it illegal to use a rubber ring on lambs more than 7 days old without local anaesthetic. A growing consumer trend is to buy products demonstrating higher animal welfare.  

Pain Management Options for Tail Docking and Castration

Local Anaesthetic
NumOcaine® | Tri-Solfen®
Buccalgesic® | Metacam®
  • Blocks pain and sensory function is lost
  • Quick acting, 1 – 5 minutes to take effect
  • Not long-lasting
  • Subcutaneous injection desensitizes a defined location
  • Relieves pain but retains most sensory function
  • Slower to act, 10 – 15 minutes
  • Longer-lasting
  • Systemic action following oral or subcutaneous injection

Why Local Anaesthetics?

30 years of veterinary research carried out in New Zealand, Australia and the UK has identified injectable local anaesthetic as the preferred solution for pain relief for castration and tail docking with rings. It provides fast acting pain relief in the first 45 minutes when lambs experience acute pain caused by loss of blood flow. Local anaesthetics block this pain.

Numnuts delivers Targeted Pain Relief for Tail Docking and Castration

For many years, veterinary research has shown that pain after marking can be alleviated by local anaesthetics. However, until now, the risk of needle stick injury to the farmer, the time required to administer the drug by needle and syringe, and uncertainty about how and where to administer it have created a barrier to use of local anaesthetics by farmers. 

“We can’t obliterate pain for humans yet and we certainly can’t obliterate it for animals, but we can make a difference to the level of pain experienced.”

Alison Small BVM&S, CSIRO

Numnuts is a game changer, enabling sheep handlers to accurately inject local anaesthetic (NumOcaine®) at the same time as ring application. 

In trials by CSIRO and the University of Melbourne, Numnuts substantially reduced the number of lambs displaying pain behaviours immediately after marking. 

  • Up to 68% reduction in pain-related behaviours
  • Faster mothering-up
  • Reduction in mis-mothering

With any assessment of pain there is a massive grey scale. Like humans, some lambs are very stoic and will just ‘grit their teeth’ and bear it, whereas others show a wide range of pain behaviours.

As with other on-farm pain management practices, Numnuts does not eliminate pain. However, veterinary field trials in the UK and Australia have demonstrated a substantial reduction in pain behaviours compared to lambs marked without Numnuts.


The effectiveness of Numnuts

Efficacy of Numnuts has been studied in field trials by CSIRO in Australia and in pen trials by Moredun Research Institute in Scotland. During Numnuts’ development, more than 1000 lambs have been studied.

  • Lambs were noticeably more relaxed when released from the cradle.
  • The number of pain behaviours observed were reduced by up to 68%.

Supplying NumOcaine

We’re interested in talking to vets that would like to supply NumOcaine to welfare focused farmers. Below are links to more information and a registration form.