This release is available in Spanish.
The Department of Animal Production at Neiker-Tecnalia, with the cooperation of Ikerbasque, is participating in the AWIN -Animal Welfare Indicators project. This research project financed by the European Union counts with international experts in animal welfare from 11 centres. The group of researchers met at the Scottish Agricultural College of the University of Edinburgh on the 10 and 11 of May, to initiate a research project with the fundamental objective of designing protocols of evaluation for the welfare of sheep, goats, horses, donkeys and turkeys, with special emphasis on determining possible early warning indicators of pain amongst these species. The study also aims to determine to what extent maternal stress caused by a number of handling practices may affect to the potential of their offspring.
One of the specific objectives of the work is to determine the degree of pain of the animals during the various phases of rearing. The research project aims to develop non-invasive protocols for evaluating welfare, pain as well as the effects of conditions such as mastitis or lameness. Likewise, experiments will be carried out on the attitude of farmers on managing painful conditions.
Determining pain in farm animals is not an easy task, as many of these animals have developed great capacity to hide it over their evolutionary history. This is due to the fact that these species in the past were object of predators and, if they were to show external signs of pain or injury, such as limping, they would be an easy target for the predators. This is why these animals, throughout their evolution, have developed strategies for hiding pain. This survival mechanism in the wild causes problems in animal husbandry, as the animal may be suffering pain before it becomes obvious and palliative treatment can be applie
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