Docking tails at an early age has benefits to both the health and welfare of lambs at a later age. ... Fecal contamination has been shown repeatedly to increase the risk for the incidence and severity of fly strike; therefore the practice of tail dockingdrastically reduces the incidence of fly strike in sheep.
The easiest and most common method of tail docking is to apply a rubber ring (or band) to the tail using an elastrator or ring extender. Banding is a bloodless method of tail docking. The band cuts off the blood supply to the tail, causing the tail to fall off in 7 to 10 days. Some producers cut the tail off before it falls off to prevent potential problems.
Banding causes some pain to the lamb, but the pain is short-lived. Pain can be reduced if a clamp is applied across the tail immediately distal to the ring. The use of a local anesthetic, such as lidocaine, can be used to reduce the pain felt by the lamb. However, this is not usually practical as lidocaine is not available for purchase over-the-counter. Only veterinarians may prescribe the use of lidocaine. Oral pain relievers are availabe in other countries.
Lambs should be at least 24 hours old before bands are applied, and bands should only be applied during the lamb's first week of life.