A new study concludes that the pain associated with horn removal can last for months, according to a report by the Luzerner Zeitung.
This conclusion supports the upcoming vote to penalize dehorning in Switzerland. The initiative, scheduled for 25 November 2018, entitled: For the dignity of farm animals, aims to withdraw farm subsidies from farmers who remove horns from their animals.
Horn removal can be a painful process, but it’s difficult to scientifically quantify the pain because of the challenges of communicating with animals. In addition, prey animals such as cows avoid displaying pain to avoid attracting predators, according to Claudia Spadavecchia, a vet and anesthesia specialist.
For these reasons researchers relied on neuro-physiological tests. Using a special laser, measurable pressure and a Von Frey hair, a device for measuring the tactile sensitivity of the skin, they measured the pain sensitivity of calves at intervals after horn removal. Results showed that pain sensitivity persisted three months after horn removal in 38% of the calves.
Switzerland has a reputation for considering animal rights. In 1992, it became the first country in the world to consider the dignity of animals in its constitution.
On 17 May 1992, Swiss voters were asked to accept or reject a referendum against the abusive use of certain reproductive techniques and genetic tinkering. The referendum, accepted by 73.8% of those who voted, led to changes to the Swiss constitution.
The resulting constitutional text makes reference, not only to humans, but also to animals, and in particular how it requires animals to be treated with dignity. While animal dignity is mentioned only in the narrow context of gene technology, it has wider ramifications, because the wording refers to animals as beings rather than things, setting a new legal precedent.
- Switzerland bans boiling lobsters alive (Le News)
Earlier this year, Switzerland banned live lobster boiling. They must stunned before being killed, a procedure that excludes boiling them alive1.