4-year PhD Studentship: Assessing long-lasting pain following hot-iron disbudding in dairy calves
Bristol Veterinary School, University of Bristol
Bristol, United Kingdom
Although freedom from pain is a key pillar of animal welfare, painful procedures are still common on most dairy farms. For instance, despite being painful, hot-iron disbudding is still performed on the vast majority of calves. Although the procedure may be performed in a way that limits intra-operative pain (using a combination of anaesthetics and analgesics), recent reports suggest that calves may experience pain for days or weeks after the procedure. However, limited information is yet available on the long-term emotional impact of the procedure and on ways to mitigate it. This PhD project will therefore aim to 1) develop the tools to assess the emotional component of long-lasting pain and 2) develop new ways to tackle pain over long periods of time. For this, we will develop methods based on pain relief as animals are expected to work to access pain relief solutions if they experience pain. These will include novel explorations of the use of cold therapy as a means of providing non-pharmaceutical pain control. We expect that this project will deepen our understanding of what calves’ experience after hot-iron disbudding and contribute to inform on potential innovative and low-cost solutions to tackle the pain.
Supervisors: Mike Mendl (primary supervisor), Benjamin Lecorps