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Pain evaluation in dairy cattle

By K. B. Gleerup, P. H. Andersen, L. Munksgaard, B. Forkman

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Pain compromises the welfare of animals. A prerequisite for being able to alleviate pain is that we are able to recognize it. Potential behavioural signs of pain were investigated for dairy cattle with the aim of constructing a pain scale for use under production conditions. Forty-three cows were selected and fifteen different behaviours were scored, subsequently a clinical examination was performed to allocate the cows to a pain and non-pain group. The animals were then treated with an analgesic or a placebo and after a resting period the cows were re-scored by two observers blinded to the treatment. Six behaviours were found to be significantly different between the pain and non-pain group and robust enough to be included in the pain scale: 'attention towards the surroundings' 'head position', 'ears position', 'facial expressions', 'response to approach' and 'back position' (a seventh, piloerection, was also significant but seemed difficult to use as it changed rapidly; p

Publication Title Applied Animal Behaviour Science
Volume 171
Pages 25-32
ISBN/ISSN 0168-1591
DOI 10.1016/j.applanim.2015.08.023
Language English
Author Address University of Copenhagen, Department of Large Animal Sciences, Copenhagen,
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Animal behavior
  2. Animals
  3. Animal welfare
  4. Bovidae
  5. Cattle
  6. Clinical aspects
  7. Evaluation
  8. Mammals
  9. Pain
  10. peer-reviewed
  11. placebos
  12. Ruminants
  13. therapy
  14. ungulates
  15. vertebrates
  1. peer-reviewed