Marking lambs usually involves both tail docking and castration. Numnuts has been developed for docking the tail of male and female lambs and for castrating male lambs.
Numnuts will be rolled out on selected commercial farms (in Australia, NZ and UK…) in 2018. If you wish to participate in this initial launch of Numnuts, please register your interest with the Numnuts Team.
We aim to distribute Numnuts in Australia, New Zealand and UK in 2019.
Click here to learn more about the Numnuts development journey.
Numnuts will be available on a ‘cost per procedure basis’. Numnuts will be competitively priced against current pain relief products. Australian Wool Innovation’s publication ‘Beyond the Bale’ describes the current price of pain relief drugs available for use in sheep in Australia. http://beyondthebale.wool.com/?iid=151130#folio=34
The team behind Numnuts are building relationships with manufacturing, distribution and supply chain partners. A more accurate cost structure will available in 2018.
There are two components to Numnuts: a ring applicator tool and a local anaesthetic injector cartridge that locks on top of the ring applicator tool. The ring applicator tool will last for many seasons. The injector cartridge is replaced every 65 shots. The injector cartridge has two components that are joined just before use. This procedure ensures there is a new needle and a sterile bottle of pain relief drug ready to use in each new cartridge. The packaging has been carefully designed for operator convenience and for operator and lamb safety. A new needle with every new injector cartridge helps minimise the risk to the lamb of infection and ensures that the needle remains sharp. This innovation is more humane than the common practice of using a single needle for 100s of animal injections, for instance during vaccination and some worm treatments.
During the first few seasons a veterinarian’s script may be required when purchasing the replaceable injector cartridge (which includes the local anaesthetic drug). Regulations controlling the supply of the injector module may vary between countries. Further details will be provided on this website when country-specific details become available.
The likely withholding period in Australia will is 2 weeks. This is well before marked lambs are sold for meat. This is still to be confirmed and will vary from country to country.
A trained operator can apply Numnuts in 2-3 seconds.
We believe the marginal additional time taken to push the local anaesthetic injection plunger on the Numnuts tool is offset by the improved ergonomics and reduced RSI associated with using our unique innovative tool for applying rings to the tail and scrotum at marking.
Numnuts engineers worked beside veterinarians, stockpersons, shepherds and farmers to ensure that Numnuts is safe, fast and practical to use by animal handlers familiar with marking lambs.
What’s the difference between local anaesthetics (LA) and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)?
The local l anaesthetic In Numnuts is a powerful fast-acting drug that blocks transmission of pain signals by nerves. The local anaesthetic is injected directly where the ring is applied to the tail and scrotum. The pain of ring castration and ring tail docking commences at these sites. LA is the ideal class of drug for reducing acute pain. The marking ring disrupts blood flow to the tail and testicles. Pain develops around 2 – 5 minutes later from loss of oxygen supply, and the acute pain associated with the procedure lasts 60-90 minutes. LA reduces the conduction of pain by nerves for a similar time frame. Local anaesthetics are therefore an excellent choice for reducing the acute pain when lambs are marked with a rubber ring.
In contrast NSAIDs have a slower onset than local anaesthetics. They act by a different pathway to reduce production of chemicals (prostaglandins) that provoke tissue inflammation and pain. NSAIDs are a good choice for reducing dull and chronic pain, once the immediate and most intense phases of pain have passed.
Regulations controlling marking practices varies between countries. In Australia, animal husbandry practice guidelines recommend marking lambs between 2 to 8 weeks of age, whereas government regulations indicate that marking should, where possible, occur between 2 and 12 weeks of age. Numnuts is designed to be used on lambs up to 12 weeks of age.
Lambs less than 7 days of age can be marked with Numnuts.
Currently in the UK legislation requires lambs to be less than 7 days of age when castrated with a constricting rubber ring in the absence of local anaesthetic. The legislation limits the use of rings to the first week of a lamb’s life. Before Numnuts was invented, there was no practical method for the UK farmer to administer local anaesthetic safely and effectively, when castrating and tail docking lambs with rubber rings. We are currently working with the UK Legislators to confirm that lambs can be marked after 7 days of age when Numnuts is used.
Numnuts has been designed for use on lambs held in the type of marking cradle commonly used in Australia and New Zealand. Numnuts can be used without a lamb marking cradle. When lambs more than 7 days of age are marked a cradle improves the ease with which lambs are held for marking. When lamb marking is carried out at 2-8 weeks of age an animal handling system like a lamb marking cradle is recommended.
Yes, the system has been designed to utilise the traditional rubber ring, which is a bloodless and highly effective, farmer-friendly method for castration and tail docking lambs that is used in many countries.
Numnuts does not alleviate all the pain a lamb experiences during castration and tail docking. For a lamb, marking may be similar to the human experience of visiting a dentist. For a human, a filling or a tooth extraction, following injection of local anaesthetic, is usually not without some pain. Similarly at present, pain relief provide by Numnuts does not abolish all the pain associated with marking. Numnuts reduces the pain lambs experience substantially when they are marked. Numnuts has been developed in collaboration with veterinarians and animal behavioural scientists at two world leading animal health and animal welfare research organisations; Moredun Research Institute and CSIRO with the goal of reducing the pain experienced by lambs at marking.
Numnuts is designed castrating and tail docking lambs with rubber rings. Numnuts is not designed for castrating or tail docking lambs with a knife.
Numnuts is designed for marking lambs. Numnuts for calves is under development.
Tail docking reduces soiling of wool with urine and faeces. This reduces the risk of sheep contracting the painful and potentially fatal disease fly strike and reduces the risk of carcass contamination in the abattoir. Castration reduces fighting between males, improves meat and wool quality and enables the farmer to selectively breed sheep for beneficial traits by use of superior sires.