The Numnuts® targeted pain relief system for marking lambs – trial closed

August 2nd, 2021

How sheep producers helped us trial the Numnuts® targeted pain relief system at lamb marking.

CSIRO, in conjunction with Meat & Livestock Australia and Australian Wool Innovation, have tested and validated a targeted pain relief system for farmers to use when tail docking and castrating their lambs using the ring method. Called Numnuts®, the system is now commercially available to the Australian sheep sector to improve the welfare of lambs at marking time. In trials we conducted with the University of Melbourne, Numnuts® reduced the number of lambs displaying pain behaviours immediately after marking by up to 68%.

The Numnuts anaesthetic, Numocaine. Image supplied.

The Numnuts® extended commercial trial

Farmers helped us trial the Numnuts® targeted pain relief system in real life on-farm settings.

It was a single day’s commitment with an incentive payment to cover costs. We provided all instructions and, where possible, arranged for a sheep vet or research technical support to be present all day.

Those involved were

  • interested in trying Numnuts® for ring castration and tail docking in lambs
  • willing to run a research study on their property (with our support)
  • able to set up 2 pens, to place 10 lambs in each pen and hold them there for 2 hours – and do this 3 times
  • willing to score lamb behaviours during this 2-hour period (3 times)
  • able to source NumOcaine® from their veterinarian
  • willing to answer a few questions about lamb marking and pain relief.

The Numnuts on-farm commercial trial set-up

For more information

Visit the Numnuts® store.

Watch a presentation by CSIRO’s project leader Dr Alison Small | Welfare Seminar | Macdonald & Co Woolbrokers – YouTube.


  • Ali is a principal research scientist at CSIRO's McMaster Laboratory in Armidale, NSW, leading livestock welfare research in a number of areas including neonatal development and survival, alternatives to painful husbandry procedures, pain mitigation for livestock and humane slaughter.
  • Jim has worked in large animal research for over 30 years researching immunology, parasitology, livestock transport on land and sea, pain alleviation in husbandry procedures, feed choice in feed lots and virtual fencing. Jim is also based at CSIRO's McMaster Laboratory in Armidale, NSW.