While veterinarians are instrumental to the welfare of calves (Bos taurus
), limited knowledge exists concerning veterinary perceptions towards perioperative pain management in calves. As a part of a larger, nationwide study investigating the perceptions of veterinarians towards calf welfare, the current work sought to quantify veterinary perceptions towards perioperative pain management, including barriers to its use, and investigate demographic influences affecting those perceptions. An electronic mixed-methods survey was completed by 104 veterinarians registered with the Veterinary Council of New Zealand. The current work revealed that most veterinarians considered a multimodal approach as the most effective method for ameliorating perioperative pain in calves, rejected the practice of differential treatment based on developmental age, and perceived that postprocedural pain persists beyond 24 h for the majority of procedures included in the survey. Despite this, veterinarians identified certain barriers that may inhibit the provision of pain mitigation on-farm, including costs, inadequate recognition of pain, and ingrained farming practices. Certain demographic effects were found to influence perceptions towards perioperative pain management, including gender, the number of years since graduation, and species emphasis. Nevertheless, the current work demonstrated considerable support among veterinarians to improve pain management protocols during routine husbandry procedures. The asymmetries that exist between the current minimum provisions of perioperative pain management and veterinary perspectives suggest that substantive improvements are necessary in order to reconcile New Zealand’s existing regulatory regime with developments in scientific knowledge.
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