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Winner, Eva-Maria; Beisl, Marina; Gumbert, Sophie; Härtel, Helena; Kaiser, Jennifer; Wernecke, Anja; Senf, Steffanie; Zablotski, Yury; Ritzmann, Mathias and Zöls, Susanne (17. May 2022): Implementation of piglet castration under inhalation anaesthesia on farrowing farms. In: Porcine Health Management, Vol. 8 [PDF, 1MB]


Background Since 01.01.2021, suckling piglets may no longer be castrated without anaesthesia in Germany. Previous studies showed castration using isoflurane anaesthesia in combination with a suitable analgesic, meet the requirements of the German Animal Welfare Act. It can be carried out independently by farmers and other qualified persons with an automated and certified isoflurane device. Therefore, the aim of the present field study was to implement the use of three different anaesthetic devices for surgical castration of male piglets under automated isoflurane anaesthesia on 15 conventional pig farms in southern Germany. In addition, the depth of anaesthesia based on defensive movements, the labour time required in contrast to anaesthetic-free castration, castration-related anaesthetic incidents and the piglet mortality rate as well as occupational safety were investigated. For this purpose, farrowing batches of 11,574 piglets castrated under isoflurane anaesthesia (IA) were compared with the results of the 1568 piglets of anaesthetic-free farrowing batches (AF).

Results In total, 80.1% of the castrated piglets showed sufficient depth of anaesthesia, although this varied significantly between devices. 1.7% of the piglets suffered an anaesthetic incident, of which 0.1% died during or within 24 h after anaesthesia. The required time for the complete working process differed significantly between AF (1.7 ± 0.8 min/piglet) and IA batches (2.2 ± 0.8 min/piglet) but not for castration itself. The mean isoflurane consumption was 0.57 ± 0.27 ml/piglet and differed significantly between the devices ( p < 0.001). The isoflurane concentration in the ambient air of the person-related workplace safety measurements was below the internationally lowest value of 15 mg/m 3 from Ontario and Israel.

Conclusion In conclusion, 2 of the 3 types of devices used, a sufficient depth of anaesthesia during castration under isoflurane was achieved in 85% of castrated piglets. Anaesthetic incidents occurred in 1.7% of the animals, of which 0.1% died. Castration under isoflurane is more time-consuming than anaesthetic-free castration, but the castration time itself did not differ significantly. The occupational exposure limits were below the internationally lowest limit value of 15 mg/m 3 for the persons involved. Even though castration under isoflurane is more time consuming than anaesthetic-free castration, it is a well-establishable method for practice and a dear improvement for animal welfare.

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