Labour time required for piglet castration with isoflurane-anaesthesia using shared and stationary inhaler devices
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Isoflurane-anaesthesia combined with an analgesic represents a welfare-friendly method of pain mitigation for castration of piglets. However, it requires an inhaler device, which is uneconomic for small farms. Sharing a device among farms may be an economical option if the shared use does not increase labour time and the resulting costs. This study aimed to investigate the amount and components of labour time required for piglet castration with isoflurane anaesthesia performed with stationary and shared devices. Piglets (N = 1579) were anaesthetised with isoflurane (using either stationary or shared devices) and castrated. The stationary devices were used in a group (n = 5) of larger farms (84 sows/farm on an average), whereas smaller farms (n = 7; 32 sows/farm on an average) shared one device. Each farm was visited four times and labour time for each process-step was recorded. The complete process included machine set-up, anaesthesia and castration by a practitioner, and preparation, collection and transport of piglets by a farmer. Labour time of the complete process was increased (P = 0.012) on farms sharing a device (266 s/piglet) compared to farms using stationary devices (177 s/piglet), due to increased time for preparation (P = 0.055), castration (P = 0.026) and packing (P = 0.010) when sharing a device. However, components of the time budget of farms using stationary or shared devices did not differ significantly (P>0.05). Cost arising from time spent by farmers did not differ considerably between the use of stationary (0.28(sic) per piglet) and shared (0.26 (sic)) devices. It is concluded that costs arising from the increased labour time due to sharing a device can be considered marginal, since the high expenses originating from purchasing an inhaler device are shared among several farms.