Investigation of the efficacy, animal welfare, and pharmacokinetic impacts of needle-free administration of iron dextran and meloxicam compared to intramuscular injection in piglets

Lead Applicant: Terri O'Sullivan

Research Priority: Animal Health & Welfare

Program Type: Tier 1

Funding Cycle: 2023/2024

Research Centre: Ontario Swine Research Centre - Arkell

Research Summary: The efficacy, feasibility, and welfare implications of using a needle-free injection device (NFID) compared to needle-syringe intra-muscular (IM) injection of meloxicam, a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID), and iron dextran in nursing piglets, at the time of piglet processing will be evaluated. The use of an NFID has been suggested to reduce the aversive experience associated with injections in weaned piglets. However, no previous studies have investigated the implications of using NFIDs for NSAID and iron dextran administration to nursing piglets. If efficacy and welfare benefit is confirmed, the project would inform adoption of NFID on-farm and best production practices related to piglet processing. Additionally, the use of an NFID at processing would reduce the hazards associated with IM injection, including broken needles and needle fragments in pork products, pain and disease transfer associated with reusing needles between piglets, needlestick injuries to humans, and decreased biohazardous waste production.