3Rs Information - Large mammal

Farm animal cognition - linking behaviour, welfare and ethics

A review has highlighted the importance of farm animal welfare and the necessity to understand not only their behavioural needs and capacities but also their cognitive ones. We recommend this review for researchers working with farm animals, as well as ethics committees, AWBs and information officers.


Facial expressions in piglets undergoing tail docking and castration

An article has been published in Frontiers of Veterinary Science looking at facial expressions in piglets undergoing tail docking and castration. This article evaluated the utility of a Grimace Scale applied to neonatal pigs to evaluate pain. While more research is needed to assess its full effectiveness, and the influence of possible confounds, the article reported that orbital tightening may have the potential to be applied to investigate painful conditions in neonatal pigs.


Diagnosis of pain levels in sheep

Researchers in the University of Cambridge have developed an artificial intelligence (AI) system to detect pain levels in sheep. This system uses five different facial expressions and is currently able to estimate pain levels with 80% accuracy.


Equine pain scoring

A paper has been published in The Veterinary Journal which validates a facial assessment pain scale in horses with acute or postoperative pain originating from the head:



Use of agricultural animals for research

The Federation of Animal Science Societies have published this comprehensive Guide for the Care and Use of Agricultural Animals in Research and Teaching. It should be a helpful guidance document for those using agricultural animals and it covers cattle, horses, poultry, sheep, goats and pigs.

Research with agricultural animals and wildlife

A paper on the use of livestock and wild ungulates has been published in ILAR Journal, which gives guidance on housing and husbandry, restraint and handling, record keeping etc., and highlights the importance of applying the 3Rs principles in these types of studies.


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