As a man, I feel that in this week’s article I am going to a place where angels fear to tread: giving birth. I can already see the letters and social media comments winging their way to Downe Veterinary clinic from the ladies of Lecale, but hear me out. This weekend the lovely Slieve Donard Hotel in Newcastle hosted one of Ireland’s top veterinary conferences. At this conference vets from across the country gathered to hear about the latest research in Veterinary Medicine. One lecture which the author attended was on the subject of cows giving birth. This is an event which occurs frequently for the farmers and vets of Lecale. You would think that we have nothing more to learn on the subject, but we do.
As many mothers will tell you, giving birth involves a modicum of discomfort. In human medicine the process is often accompanied by good pain relief in the form of epidurals, anaesthetics and opioids. However we have been slow to catch up in veterinary medicine. Perhaps because our patients can’t talk, we have been slow to introduce good pain relief for “routine” calvings. After all, cows have been giving birth in fields for time immemorial. To be sure, for years it has been common practice to administer pain relief during C-sections but it has been less common to administer drugs when calvings go to plan.
At the AVSPNI veterinary conference this weekend, local vets were presented with the latest research out of the USA on the topic of pain relief in calving. A study has indicated that giving cows good pain relief during even “normal” calvings can have dramatic beneficial effects for the cow, the farmer and the vet. The cow gets great pain relief and enjoys life; the farmer gets increased milk production, a reduction in postnatal sickness and it has even been shown that the cows treated go on to have a longer lifespan. The vet gets that warm glow of knowing animal welfare in Lecale has gone up a notch. The research is compelling and logical. It goes to show that the simplest ideas are often the best. If you would like more information on the latest thinking, please just call into the clinic where one of our staff will be happy to advise.