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Vets Encouraged To Speak To Farmers About The Benefits Of Using NSAIDs In Dairy Cows

7 days ago

10th July, 2024 18h33


Vets are being encouraged to ‘go back to basics’ and speak to dairy farmers about the role of NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatories) in their medicine cabinets.

The move follows a recent cattle vet conference and round table meeting, hosted by Ceva Animal Health, which revealed that some vets and farmers are not speaking the same language when it comes to pain relief in the nation’s herd.  Indeed, the vet delegates at the ‘Break the Pain Conference and Round Table’ event, which took place at The Mount Hotel in Wolverhampton on Wednesday 26 June, reported that they often assumed that farmers knew what NSAIDs were and their many benefits, yet anecdotal feedback from delegates was that proficient and knowledgeable farmers were confused between antibiotics and NSAIDs!  In addition, vets often wrongly perceived that farmers were worried about the cost of medication, which discouraged them from speaking to their clients.

Featuring presentations on the extensive role of NSAIDs in pain relief at calving, during the treatment of digital dermatitis and for pain associated with lameness, delegates at the conference discussed the challenges that vets face when it comes to prescribing NSAIDs for pain relief in dairy cows with the consensus being that vets, mobility scorers and foot trimmers need to use more positive language on farm. Taking time to speak to clients about what motivates them and following a motivational interview technique can help glean information in a confident and constructive way by ‘asking, advising, assessing, assisting and arranging’ to gain an understanding of the farmer’s aims and objectives and providing advice on management and treatments such as NSAIDs as an outcome.

Esteemed speakers at the conference included Nicola Gladden, Farm Animal Clinical Assistant Professor at the University of Nottingham; Georgios Oikonomou, RCVS Specialist in Cattle Health and Production and Professor of Cattle Health and Welfare at the University of Liverpool and James Wilson, Foot Health Consultant at Herd Health Consultancy, with Nick Bell, Director of Herd Health Consultancy facilitating the round table discussion.

Katherine Timms, ruminant veterinary advisor at Ceva Animal Health, which manufactures the NSAID Ketofen, also spoke at the conference and comments: “The Stride UK dairy mobility report 2024 revealed that 7% of dairy farmers were not using NSAIDs in any lame cow, yet foot care and lameness management should be included in their herd health plans to meet the Red Tractor Dairy Standards and the standards of their milk buyer.

“Farmers want an easy and cost-effective solution when it comes to offering pain relief to their herds due to other priorities on farm and using NSAIDs strategically have shown a substantial return on investment of £1.66 for every £1 invested1.  Vets should be leading discussions on pain relief to change their clients’ mindset with the goal of providing gold standard care for the long-term health and welfare of the nation’s herd.”

Sam Bowker, vet surgeon at Blackdown Farm Vets in Devon, who attended the conference, says: “It was a good challenge to us as vets to lead on the use of NSAIDs and pain relief on farm. We had a good discussion about protocols we have in the practice, particularly around the use of pain relief when called to assisted calvings and all agreed to use them ongoing.  The other good reminder was not to assume that farmers won’t want to give pain relief because of cost, and to consider both the welfare and production benefits of their use.”

For further information on Ceva’s Break the Pain Conference and Roundtable please contact your local Ceva Animal Health territory manager.  Information on the role of NSAIDs in the treatment of pain in cattle can be found here


  1. Wilson JP, Green MJ, Randall LV et al.  Effects of routine treatment with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs at calving and when lame on the future probability of lameness and culling in dairy cows: a randomised controlled trial.  J Dairy Sci. 2022; 105(7):6041-6054.

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