Best practice marking of lambs

Page last updated: Wednesday, 1 March 2023 - 12:49pm

Please note: This content may be out of date and is currently under review.

Pain relief 

A webinar for sheep producers on the pain relief options for lamb marking was held on 13 July 2022. You can view the hour-long webinar below in addition to the written material on this webpage.

Please note, information in the webinar is current as at July 2022. The scheduling for NumOcaine® and Buccalgesic® have changed, and new injectable and oral meloxicam products have been registered with the APVMA since this webinar was produced. These changes are reflected in the updated text and tables below.

Hosted by DPIRD Development Officer, Katherine Davies, this webinar features DPIRD Principal Policy Officer and vet, Lee Chester, who covers the pain relief options available to use on lambs at marking time, including their modes of action, availability, and costs. Wickepin sheep producer, Audrey Bird, shares her practical experience and thoughts on using multiple products for short- and longer-term pain relief for lambs at marking time.

Note: poll questions mentioned in the live webinar are not visible in this recording.

Pain relief products for lamb marking

DPIRD recommends that producers use pain relief when mulesing, tail docking and castrating sheep. There are four types of registered pain relief products for use at lamb marking. Some are Schedule 5 (S5) or Schedule 6 (S6) and available over the counter at agricultural stores, while some are Schedule 4 products (S4) and must be prescribed and dispensed by a veterinary surgeon who has a bone fide professional relationship with the producer.

The Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicine Authority (APVMA) has registered pain relief products for use at lamb marking – see Table 1.

Table 1 - Pain relief products for lamb marking and their Withholding Period (WHP) and Export Slaughter Interval (ESI)
Product Description & use Veterinary prescription needed

Meat withholding period (days)

Export slaughter interval (days)



Pain relief following mulesing, tail docking and castration.

Post-operative gel spray providing local anaesthetic and antiseptic.
No 90 90



Local anaesthetic injection for pain relief at tail docking and castration used in conjunction with the NumNuts® ring applicator system.



An ESI has not been established for this product. Trade advice should be sought from the manufacturer before using this product on animals destined for export.



Available under several brands

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) for alleviation of pain, fever and inflammation.

Pre-operative subcutaneous injection.
Yes 11 11

Buccalgesic® or Butec®


Oral preparation of meloxicam. Alleviation of pain and inflammation for castration and tail docking.

Pre-operative liquid administered orally.

No 10 10

*Lambs must be older than 14 days

Benefits of providing pain relief

Provision of pain relief to animals enhances their ability to cope with the painful procedure, while also promoting healing by alleviation of tissue trauma and inflammatory processes.

Products like Tri-Solfen® or NumOcaine® provide an anaesthetic effect to reduce the sensation of pain at the time of the procedure. Tri-Solfen® helps control blood loss due to the inclusion of adrenaline which constricts blood vessels and contains an antiseptic to help prevent infection and promote healing.

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) drugs such as injectable meloxicam (various brands) or oral meloxicam (Buccalgesic® or Butec®), work on alleviating the pain associated with inflammation after the procedure and contribute to an animal’s ability to return to normal activities.

It is important to fill out the Mob Mulesing Status of the National Wool declaration when selling wool to reflect that pain relief has been used when mulesing.

Along with improving the welfare outcomes of animals undergoing painful husbandry procedures, provision of pain relief contributes to the sustainability of an industry by meeting community and consumer expectations.

Multi-modal approach to providing pain relief

Painful husbandry procedures, such as mulesing, castration, tail docking, earmarking or ear tagging, may be performed at the same time. In this situation, the best pain relief strategy is to use a ‘multi- modal’ approach which is a combination of a local anaesthetic product (for example Tri-Solfen® or NumOcaine®) and a NSAID (for example an injectable or oral meloxicam).

Products should be applied according to the manufacturer’s recommendations, before, during, or immediately after the painful procedure. This ‘multi-modal’ strategy relieves immediate pain associated with the procedure as well as longer lasting pain associated with inflammation and healing.

A suggested approach to best practice application of registered uses of pain relief products is listed in Table 2.

If using a NSAID, use either an injectable meloxicam or oral meloxicam – but not both.

Table 2 - Application of pain relief products (scroll across to see all columns)
Product Action Application WHP & ESI Mulesing Tail docking with hot knife/knife Castration with knife Tail docking with rings Castration with rings Veterinary prescription needed



Short acting local anaesthetic Fan spray application to the wound (effective in less than 1 min) 90 days

Buccalgesic® or Butec®



longer acting analgesic

Oral with custom applicator – gel applied inside the cheek (effective after 10 mins) 10 days



Available under several generic brands


longer acting analgesic

Subcutaneous injection under skin high on neck (effective after 10 mins) 11 days

NumOcaine® used in conjunction with NumNuts® ring applicator system


Short acting local anaesthetic Ring applicator combined with an injector that dispenses local anaesthetic (NumOcaine®) for pain relief at tail docking and castration

0 days


*ESI (see note)

Adapted from Australian Wool Innovation Ltd Factsheet: Anaesthetics and Analgesics at Lamb Marking.

*Tri-Solfen® relies on an open wound and exposed blood vessels for absorption, and is not effective if using a gas knife, or rings to castrate and tail dock.

*An Export Slaughter Interval (ESI) has not been established for NumOcaine®. The manufacturer’s advice should be sought before using this product.

Contact information

Julia Smith
+61 (0)8 9368 3449